Editor’s Note

Delwar Hossain

Professor of International Relations, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Editor

The Journal of Bangladesh and Global Affairs in its second issue of Volume 2 covers a host of issues pertinent to Bangladesh foreign policy and global politics. The growing importance of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean region brings up the major actors to pursue their norms, values and interests. As a result, a discernable rivalry between the emerging China and India is evident. Against this backdrop, it is imperative to understand the security dynamics of this area from the perspective of India and China. To secure peace and prosperity in the littoral areas of the Bay, states of this area need to take a multilateral approach. In addition, suicide terrorism has been a severe threat to many states. Further, the protracted Rohingya refugee crisis, along with the coronavirus pandemic, imposed multifaceted challenges on Bangladesh. Thus, a broader understanding of these issues becomes necessary for academics and policymakers to grasp the actual regional and national dynamics of the matters concerned.

This issue includes articles discussing the growing rivalries in the Bay of Bengal, the dynamics of the China-India relationship analyzed from a security environment viewpoint, the concept of multilateralism in the Bay as seen from the perspectives of BIMSTEC, from a regional perspective. In addition, suicide terrorism has been discussed from a security perspective. Additionally, from a national standpoint, the issue includes articles on the delayed repatriation of the Rohingya and its connection to both violent and nonviolent incidents, and Bangladesh’s vaccine diplomacy. A collection of six articles critically examines the themes mentioned above.

In his work titled ‘Understanding Bangladesh’s Vaccine Diplomacy during the COVID-19 Crisis,’ Islam aims to analyze Bangladesh’s utilization of vaccine diplomacy at both bilateral and multilateral levels amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The article emphasizes the struggles faced by nations in the Global South in obtaining sufficient vaccines, primarily due to the rise of vaccine nationalism and the consequent vaccine divide. The paper mostly centers around the dire situation encountered by Bangladesh when it was denied the vaccines promised by its neighboring country, India. In light of this context, the objective of this study is to examine the vaccine diplomacy pursued by Bangladesh under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The study maintains that vaccine diplomacy constituted the primary focus of Bangladesh’s foreign policy during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

In their paper titled ‘Understanding the Emerging Strategic Rivalries in the Bay of Bengal: Actors and Associated Policies,’ Hossain et al. examine how changes in global and regional power dynamics have turned the Bay of Bengal into a new theatre for strategic rivalry in the greater Indian Ocean region. To comprehend this rivalry, it is imperative to concentrate on the principal actors in this domain and their policies, as stated in the paper. Furthermore, it strives to ascertain the direct and indirect interests of these actors associated with the Bay. The article reveals that major and minor powers are adopting new approaches or modifying their existing strategies in response to the growing importance and varied interests surrounding the Bay of Bengal. The article also presents fresh opportunities for research for the small littoral states in this region on how they might strategically advance their national interest and uphold their independent position in the rivalry. Ultimately, it is evident that the Bay of Bengal, as a sub-regional entity within the Indian Ocean region, possesses enormous potential.

The paper titled ‘BIMSTEC: An Engine of Promoting Multilateralism in the Bay of Bengal?’ argues that the Bay of Bengal, despite its historical significance and its importance as a crucial part of the Indo-Pacific economic zone, has been neglected by the international community in terms of economic development. The paper reveals that the establishment of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) aimed to address the region’s reputation as ‘incomplete’ and ‘inadequate’. The organization has exerted considerable effort to promote regional multilateralism, surmounting obstacles and identifying prospects for growth. Nevertheless, the emergence of regionalism and multilateralism in the Bay of Bengal region poses a new challenge. In response to the emergence of influential regional powers and new entities, governments may choose to implement a ‘taking sides’ policy. In this context, the paper argues that the BIMSTEC can act as an intermediary for peaceful coexistence and enhance the resilience of its members amidst the current difficulties. The article also focuses on the strategies employed by BIMSTEC and the countries’ endeavors to establish connections and foster multilateralism in the Indo-Pacific region.

The article ‘Sino-Indian Dynamics in South Asia: A Systemic Security Environment Approach’ contends that the interactions between China and India create a complex strategic situation, requiring a comprehensive perspective that incorporates different theoretical foundations of the broader security field in International Relations. This study is grounded on Tang’s conceptualization of four key dimensions that represent the security complex, namely geographical barriers, state-to-state interaction, international structure and military technology. This research does a comparative analytical analysis of all four characteristics and identifies a shortcoming in Tang’s framework. The article concludes that Tang’s formulation, which excludes non-traditional security concerns, often puts pressure on the regional security system in line with the traditional factors identified by Tang. Therefore, it is necessary to include these non-traditional security concerns in the approach to the systemic security environment.

In his article ‘Why is Suicide Terrorism Applied as an Instrument of Violence’ Islam focuses on why and how suicide terrorism has been employed as an instrument of violence. This article begins by giving a brief conceptual overview and historical background on issues related to suicide terrorism. The article also discusses the justifications for causes and motivations of suicide terrorism. Finally, the effectiveness of suicide terrorism is based on available empirical evidence has been presented.

In their paper titled ‘Delayed Rohingya Repatriation and Current Trends of Violence: A Critical Analysis in Bangladesh,’ Rahman and Kabir aim to investigate the correlation between the delayed repatriation of the Rohingyas from the Cox’s Bazar camps and the escalation of both violent and non-violent occurrences within the region. The study also examines how both violent and non-violent acts pose a threat to both the Rohingyas and the local population. The article concludes that the ongoing delay in repatriation is contributing to the potential growth of criminal behavior among the Rohingya community. Continued delay in the repatriation process will result in the community becoming a burden for the region. The study advocates for more research in this field so that policymakers can fully comprehend the issue’s magnitude. Authorities should enhance their proactive endeavors to garner global attention towards the protracted Rohingya crisis, minimize crimes and violence, and foster a peaceful atmosphere within the overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Notably, the articles in this issue provide new perspectives on Bangladesh’s vaccine diplomacy, strategic rivalries in the Bay of Bengal and its importance within the broader Indian Ocean region. The role of BIMSTEC in promoting multilateralism has also been analyzed in this issue. Another crucial issue, Sino-Indian dynamics in South Asia and suicide terrorism as a security threat has also been discussed in this issue. The article also provides new insights into the problems that arise as a consequence of the delayed repatriation of the Rohingya. The articles in this issue will provide enough food for thought to the readers.

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