Vol. 5 Num 215 Fri. December 31, 2004  

Economic self-reliance a must for security
Speakers tell roundtable on 'Security of small states'

The smaller countries around the world must build up their economic self-reliance as a potential security measure in the face of uni-polar hegemonic world order, said the speakers at a roundtable yesterday.

The roundtable on 'Security of Small States' was organised by Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (Bilia) in the city.

The small states have to take both the economic and military aspects into consideration for its security, said former ambassador Harun-ur-Rashid in his keynote paper.

He said with the unprovoked US invasion of Iraq in 2003, small states find themselves no more protected by an international order envisaged in the UN Charter.

"The US and its allies, by waging war in Iraq, have abandoned the UN Charter that provides that war can be launched only in self-defense with UN approval when a state is attacked by another one," he added.

Rashid said the world community has to seriously deal with two challenges-non-state terrorism and Bush-doctrine of pre-emptive war in adapting the UN Charter with the present day world situation.

He quoted former US secretary of state Dr Kissinger to sum up the bottom line of the Bush administration's foreign policy as saying, "The desire of one power for absolute security means absolute insecurity for all others."

"Pre-emptive or preventive war doctrine appears to endanger security of small states because the distinction between imminent threat of attack and capacity to attack has been obliterated by the doctrine," read the keynote paper.

Rashid said the task force, constituted by the UN Secretary General and headed by former Thai prime minister Dr Anand Panyrchun to reform the world body, has recommended the expansion of the Security Council by including additional six permanent members and activating its role in maintaining international peace and security.

Former Justice Naimuddin Ahmed said any country having a potential resource is insecure in today's world order.

As per the UN Charter, it is the Security Council that must take effective and collective measures to protect world peace and security, he said, adding that there is no scope for unilateral or bilateral action.

"We significantly compromise economic aspect of the state security, as we spend a substantial amount of national budget for the defense only," said GM Quader, lawmaker.

Internal cohesion is of prime importance in maintaining security of a small state, said former Dhaka University vice-chancellor Prof M Moniruzzaman Mia.

The problem of UN reform lies with how to deal with the question of veto power, said Bilia Director and former ambassador Waliur Rahman who chaired the dialogue.

Justice KM Sobhan, former ambassadors Sayyid A Karim and Kazi Anwarul Masud and Bhutanese Ambassador Dasho Jigme Tshultim were present on the occasion.