The historic foreign policy adage postulated by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which is ’Friendship to all and malice towards none”, continues to provide the philosophical foundation of Bangladesh’s pro-peace foreign policy. Apart from this philosophical foundation, Bangladesh’s foreign policy vision is also grounded firmly on two foreign relations fundamentals deeply rooted the country’s inception.
First, the Proclamation of country’s Independence of 10 April 1971 (following the Declaration of Independence on 26 March 1971) clearly delineate the country’s international obligations, “commitment of the new State to the Charter of the United Nations” and that …“we may make our full contribution to international peace and cooperation in keeping with progressive aspirations of mankind”. Second, Article 25(1) of the country’s Constitution further upholds that the State shall conduct its international relations based on the principles of peaceful settlement of international disputes, respect for international law and the UN Charter, and strive for social and economic emancipation of peoples. These pronouncements laid down the fundamentals of a value-based foreign policy promoting peace, cooperation, democracy, human rights, secularism, nationalism and social justice.
Bangladesh served at the UN Security Council for the terms 1979-80 and 2000-2001. The country’s foreign minister served as President of the 41st UN General Assembly in 1986. In 1982-83, Bangladesh played a constructive role as chair of the “Group of 77”. It has taken a leading role in the “Group of 48” least developing countries. Currently, Bangladesh remains elected to as many as 23 key UN specialized bodies and Intergovernmental Organizations including the following recent elections: UNICEF Executive Board, ILO Governing Board, Presidency of South-South Cooperation, CEDAW Committee and UN Human Rights Council. Not to mention, Bangladesh currently holds the positions of Chairperson of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and President of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Within the ambit of these foreign policy fundamentals, the key goals in the of the present government in its international relations lie in the following: (a) ensuring balanced and good-neighbourly relations with all neighbouring countries in South and South East Asia and beyond, and promoting regional cooperation under SAARC, BIMSTEC, BCIM and contribute to regional peace, stability, connectivity and integration; (b) actively seek partnerships with all regional groups including ASEAN, the EU, Arab League, African Union and remain proactive in OIC, NAM, Commonwealth, Asian Cooperation Dialogue, IORA, ASEAN regional Forum, Asia-Europe Forum(ASEM), CICA and so on; (c) pursue multilateralism to be a strong voice in the ongoing global negotiations on international trade and development, climate change and climate vulnerability, mainstreaming migration into international development discourse, the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, and remain elected, active, visible and vocal in the United Nations System; (d) contribute to UN peacekeeping and peace building activities in the maintenance of international peace and security; (e) find newer markets and better terms of employment for skilled and semi-skilled workforce from Bangladesh and to promote, protect rights and welfare of all expatriate Bangladeshis abroad; (f) secure unimpeded entry of Bangladeshi products into global markets, and negotiate to secure favourable trading regimes; (g) attract Foreign Direct Investment and mobilize global resources for national growth and development; (h) enhance national image globally by showcasing rich intellectual and cultural heritage, growth and development successes.