UN Human Rights Council vote on Rohingya: Bangladesh’s diplomatic failure exposed yet again

File photo: Rohingya refugees stretch their hands to receive aid distributed by local organisations at Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 14, 2017 Reuters. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | Subscribe

DHAKA, Sep 30, 2019, Dhaka Tribune. The September 26 vote on a resolution titled “Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar” at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has once again exposed Bangladesh’s failure in diplomacy. Although the resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority, Bangladesh failed to convince any of its neighbours to support it, reported the Dhaka Tribune.

The draft of the resolution was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the European Union. The resolution expressed grave concern at continuing reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar, against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities.

The violations include arbitrary arrests, torture, forced labour, socioeconomic exploitation, the forced displacement of more than a million Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh, and sexual and gender-based violence against women and children, among others. The resolution urges Myanmar to take concrete steps towards the creation of an environment conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of the forcibly displaced Rohingya refugees residing in Bangladesh.

The 47-member UNHRC adopted the resolution by 37 votes in favour, two against, and with seven abstentions. The two countries who voted against the resolution were China and The Philippines, while the abstentions were India, Nepal, Japan, Brazil, Ukraine, Angola and Cameroon.

The lack of support from China, India, and Japan is particularly alarming, as Dhaka has repeatedly maintained that these countries are with Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue. Does the voting pattern of the said countries support Dhaka’s claim? Many will disagree.

China, the staunchest ally of Myanmar and now officially engaged with the repatriation process, is the only country with which Bangladesh has a strategic partnership. However, Bangladesh has still failed time and again to prove itself more important to China than Myanmar. It is high time Dhaka uses its leverage wisely to obtain the support of Beijing for a just cause.

Leaders of Bangladesh and India often say the relationship between the two countries is beyond the need for a strategic partnership. There are numerous engagements between the two countries in various sectors, and it is widely perceived that Dhaka does more for Delhi. However, Bangladesh has been unable to gain India’s support on the Rohingya issue by failing to play its cards right.

Japan is one of the largest development partners of Bangladesh and also has a great deal of economic interests in the country. Tokyo’s activities to aid the Rohingya repatriation have recently been noticed, which is positive, but Japan’s failure to support Bangladesh on a just resolution raises questions over the extent of its support.

All in all, it can be safely said the least that so far Bangladeshi diplomacy has not performed as the people of the country wanted it to. The country has to use the leverage at its disposal to earn the support of strategic partners and neighbours, or the Rohingya crisis may linger on and have devastating effects.

Share it

Exclusive: Beyond the Covid-19 world's coverage