The United Nations in Bangladesh
The relationship between Bangladesh and the United Nations started during the initial stage of Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971. In March 1971, millions of people sought refuge in neighbouring India. In April, the government of India requested the United Nations to provide humanitarian assistance to the refugees and the United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim initiated the response. The UNHCR took the lead in coordinating humanitarian assistance to 10 million Bengali refugees in partnership with the Indian government and with the support of UNICEF, WFP, FAO, WHO and the League of Red Cross Societies. After independence, the refugees returned to their homeland - Bangladesh - and UN agencies assisted in the rehabilitation process.
Currently, the UN System has been engaged to support national development priorities under the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). In the upcoming 8th Five Year Plan, the assistance would be under a new generation framework called the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), in line with the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UN agencies in Bangladesh have been working together in a new, coherent way to support the government to implement the SDGs and to enhance the development impact in priority areas.
The UN in Bangladesh has been supporting the Government to implement the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. It formulated the UN Development Assistance Framework 2017-2020 jointly with Government. Currently, the UN in Bangladesh is developing the new UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2021-2025, pursuing an inclusive, gender-equality focused and human rights-based approach to development to leave no one behind. The UNSDCF will coordinate with the priorities set in the Government's 8th Five-Year Plan.
The UN System in Bangladesh is collaborating with the Government and non-governmental partners to provide humanitarian assistance to approximately one million Rohingya refugees with programmes for shelter, food, water and sanitation, health, education and protection. The UN in Bangladesh also engages with multi-level stakeholders to promote accountability and supports initiatives aimed at voluntary, safe and dignified repatriation of Rohingya refugees.
The UN in Bangladesh has been working with the Government and development partners on a more coordinated system of providing social protection, such as the Tea Garden Project as part of implementation of the Global SDG Joint Fund that aims to enhance the protection of female farmers at the tea gardens in Sylhet, along with their family members, together with other social protection initiatives in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.
The UN in Bangladesh is collaborating with the Government on strengthening humanitarian and disaster risk reduction and preparedness initiatives that support people affected by natural calamities linked to climate change. It also contributes inclusive financing for climate resilience. The UN in Bangladesh successfully supported national capacity development of policy makers and other institutional stakeholders to implement the Rio Conventions and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements.
The UN system in Bangladesh is jointly working with Government and civil society on women’s human rights and empowerment, towards eliminating violence against women, guaranteeing sexual and reproductive health and rights, and reducing gender inequalities in the labour market, education system and political institutions. The UN Committee against Torture reviewed Bangladesh’s compliance with the UN Torture Convention for the first time in 20 years, providing important recommendations for action.
The Convention on Violence and Harassment in the Workplace was adopted in June 2019. A shining example of what can be achieved through multi-stakeholder collaboration, the convention was drafted with contributions from governments, employee organizations, and trade unions, to recognize the serious toll that violence and harassment can have on individuals, businesses, and governments.