Democracy, justice must for social stability: PMStaff Correspondent
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Sunday said participatory democracy and justice were imperative for social stability and warned that perpetual poverty and inequality could lead to extremism in a society.
‘Absence of democracy and social justice can be linked to sustained poverty, inequality, deprivation and marginalisation which in turn breeds extremism and terrorism,’ she said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of a two-day international conference on ‘People’s empowerment and development’ in a city hotel.
The prime minister attributed the popular uprisings sweeping different parts of the world to lack of participatory democracy
and justice saying that social stability and peace could not endure without true democracy.
‘I firmly believe that justice is an important requisite for sustainable peace, and it could be attained by empowering people for meaningful engagement in development activities at all levels of the society,’ she said.
More than 80 delegates from 62 countries are attending the conference. The main objective of the conference is to share world`s thoughts on Sheikh Hasina`s `people`s empowerment model` she placed at the 66th UN General Assembly session.
Hasina thanked the delegates for taking up her concept of ‘People’s empowerment for peace, justice and development’, seriously and said that their further inputs would make the concept a ‘classic, universal and workable’.
‘So, I have been trying to realise this model of empowerment for the 160 million people of Bangladesh through pro-poor programmes aimed at bringing about holistic justice and equality, and thereby, strengthening democracy,’ she said.
With foreign minister Dipu Moni in the chair, the inaugural session was addressed, among others, by Nepal’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Sri Lankan foreign minister GL Peiris, Indian rural
development minister Jairam Ramesh, Bhutan’s works and human settlement minister Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, Maldives deputy foreign minister Ali Hameed, UN undersecretary general Joan Clos and UNESCO deputy director general Getachew Engida.
Foreign secretary Mijarul Quayes gave the welcome address in the inaugural session of the conference attended by delegates from UN member-countries, representatives of UN agencies and diplomatic missions of different countries in Dhaka and New Delhi.
Stressing the need for empowerment of the people for real development, Hasina said it requires eradication of poverty, inequality and deprivation of all forms as well as employment opportunity for all, greater inclusiveness, sustainable growth, human development and finally countering extremism and terrorism.
The prime minister said, ‘Freedom, human rights and global peace remain elusive while all forms of extremism are thriving. New and emerging challenges such as oil and food price hike, global financial and debt crisis, climate change, lack of green and clean technology and the digital divide have kept the marginalised and poor societies isolated from global mainstream.’
She said that in pursuit of the spirit of the country’s constitution, constitution of Awami League and ‘people’s empowerment model’, her government was making relentless efforts to ensure secularism and equality of the people irrespective of their race, religion and caste.
‘We are also trying to ensure equal rights of the ethnic minorities in accordance with the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord,’ she added.
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