Bangladesh’s Membership in ECOSOC: Electoral Victory for the Term 2025-2027

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On June 7, 2024, Bangladesh won the membership in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a key United Nations body, representing the Asia-Pacific region for the 2025-2027 term. With an overwhelming majority, Bangladesh secured 181 out of 189 votes during the election conducted at the UN General Assembly Hall. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan were also elected from the same region. ECOSOC stands as the cornerstone of the UN system and plays a pivotal role in addressing development and social concerns through multilateral diplomacy.

In the past fifteen years, Bangladesh has emerged as a dynamic and rapidly growing economic force. With an average gross national income growth rate exceeding 6.7 percent during this period, the nation’s per capita income reached Taka 273,360 by the end of the fiscal year 2022-23. As of 2023, Bangladesh stands as the 33rd largest economy globally by GDP size. Notably, poverty rates have plummeted to 18.7 percent, with extreme poverty dropping to 5.6 percent. The nation boasts a life expectancy of 72.8 years, with 98.8 percent of the population having access to safe drinking water and 97.32 percent utilizing sanitary latrines.

Additionally, the infant mortality rate has declined to 21 per thousand, while maternal mortality stands at 161 per lakh. In the domain of infrastructure, Bangladesh has witnessed remarkable progress. Power generation capacity has surged sixfold to 30,277 MW, ensuring electricity coverage for 100 percent of the population. The healthcare sector has also experienced unprecedented growth, with the number of beds in government hospitals doubling to 71,000 and the number of government doctors and nurses tripling. Moreover, the establishment of 14,311 community clinics has significantly bolstered healthcare accessibility.

Education has been another success story, with the literacy rate rising from 45 percent in 2006 to 76.8 percent in 2023. Female participation in primary education has surged to 98.25 percent, while enrollment in technical education has increased by 22 times. Agriculture has flourished, with grain crop production quadrupling to 4.92 crore metric tonnes and fish production increasing 2.5 times to 53.14 lakh metric tonnes. Infrastructure development has been extensive, with highways tripling to 32,678 km and rural roads increasing 76 times to 2,37,446 km. Railway infrastructure has also expanded by one and a half times to 3,486 km.

The digital revolution has swept Bangladesh, with internet usage skyrocketing from 0.23 percent to 78.55 percent between 2006 and 2023. The active number of mobile phone SIMs has surged tenfold to 18 crore 86 lakhs 40 thousand, while the number of digital services provided by government agencies has increased 400 times. Additionally, ICT exports have soared from USD21 million to USD1.9 billion, and the number of IT freelancers has surged from 200 to 6 lakh 80 thousand, securing Bangladesh the second position globally.

Recognized widely as a beacon of socio-economic progress, Bangladesh’s achievements have garnered global acclaim. Diplomats from various nations present at the election venue remarked, ‘This victory serves as a global acknowledgment of Bangladesh’s development achievements.’ Indeed, Bangladesh’s consistent successes in international elections, including this prestigious one, underscore the confidence, trust, and recognition bestowed upon our nation by the international community. On top that Ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith, Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, was elected as the Chair of the Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee) of the United Nations General Assembly for its 79th Session.

The election, overseen by Mr. Dennis Francis, President of the 78th United Nations General Assembly, was conducted through a confidential voting process. Ambassador Muhammad A. Muhith, Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the UN, remarked, ‘This election recognizes Bangladesh’s distinctive achievements in sustainable development under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, showcasing the international trust and confidence in our nation.’ With Bangladesh slated to transition from Least Developed Country (LDC) status to a developing country by 2026, Ambassador Muhith highlighted the significance of ECOSOC membership in facilitating a smooth and sustainable graduation process, accelerating progress towards Agenda 2030 implementation.

ECOSOC membership offers Bangladesh a strategic platform to amplify its engagement in realizing Agenda 2030 objectives. Through robust participation in diverse forums, commissions, and committees, Bangladesh can actively shape policies and contribute to global development efforts. Moreover, membership facilitates access to regional platforms like the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), enhancing Bangladesh’s visibility and influence in regional development initiatives.

The Ambassador emphasized Bangladesh’s commitment to sharing its successful developmental practices with the world. As the current President of the Executive Board of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Bangladesh is already positioned as a leader in international development cooperation. ECOSOC membership further solidifies Bangladesh’s role as a proactive contributor to global development discourse.

With its ECOSOC membership set to commence in January 2025, Bangladesh is poised to leverage this platform effectively. It provides an opportunity for Bangladesh to showcase its innovative approaches in areas such as poverty alleviation, healthcare, and climate resilience. By actively engaging with ECOSOC, Bangladesh can foster partnerships, mobilize resources, and accelerate progress towards achieving sustainable development goals on both national and global scales.

– Syed Raiyan Amir is a Senior Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

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