Bangladesh Country Profile
Prepared by: Twin Falls High School Delegation for Idaho Model U.N. – 2023
Bangladesh is a Parliamentary representative democratic republic as of 1990 after 15 years of military rule from Pakistan. In East Pakistan, a pro democracy movement led to the Liberation War, and Bangladesh became a sovereign and independent country in 1971. Bangladesh’s leaders are President (Abdul Hamid), the Prime Minister (Sheikh Hasina), and Parliament. President (elected every five years by the parliamentary legislature) power is a ceremonial post, while the prime minister mainly leads the country. A caretaker government leads Bangladesh. In a caretaker government, the president has control over the Ministry of Defense, the authority to declare a state of emergency, and the power to dismiss the chief adviser and other members of the caretaker government. Once elections are
held, and a new Prime Minister and Parliament are placed, the president’s powers revert to a ceremonial role. The Prime Minister appoints the Chief Adviser with presidential approval and other advisers to the government 15 days after the current Parliament’s expiration. The president appoints the prime minister, who must be a Member of Parliament whom the president feels commands the confidence of the majority of other parliamentary members. The cabinet is composed of ministers selected by the prime minister and appointed by the president. Bangladesh’s political parties are the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Bangladesh primarily the Awami League, and Jatiya Party. The Constitution was adopted on November 4, 1972, and has fourteen amendments. The Eighth Amendment removed the principle of secularism and affirmed Islam as the state religion but
allowed Bangladeshis to practice other beliefs peacefully. Women’s rights and gender equality are protected by Article 10, allowing the participation of women in national life. Also, Articles 26 to 29 of the section the Fundamental Rights affirm the equality of all citizens before the law. The rights of minority groups are protected by Article 41, reiterating that Bangladeshis may practice religions in peace (subject to law, public order, and morality). This affects the
significant Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist minorities.
Bangladesh was formed in 1971 and began as one of the poorest nations in the world after British colonization. Poverty has slowly decreased since then, and they reached lower-middle income status in 2015. From 1991 to 2016, poverty declined from 43.5% to 14.3%. Bangladesh’s economy has risen 6% annually since 2005 despite political unrest, poor infrastructure, and
insufficient power supplies. The GDP per capita of Bangladesh was $2,503 in 2021, and the total GDP of the nation reached $354.24 billion between 2020 and 2021. Bangladesh’s total expenditures in 2021 were the equivalent of $64 billion, but its tax revenue was only equal to $42 billion. While over half of the GDP is generated through the service sector, almost half of Bangladeshis are employed in the agricultural industry, with rice as the essential produce. The industrial sector continues to grow, with clothing accounting for more than 80% of exports. Bangladesh specializes in clothing exports, with their top export being non-knit men’s suits, approximating $5.75B in revenue. Followed closely behind are knit t-shirts with an estimated revenue of $5.74B. Bangladesh’s most significant export trading partners are Germany, the United States, Spain, Poland, and the United Kingdom. China, India, Singapore, the United States, and Indonesia are their most significant import trading partners. Wealth inequality is exceptionally high in Bangladesh, with the top 1% earning 16.2% of wealth and the bottom 50% earning 17.1% of the wealth in 2021. The government has worked on Improving infrastructure
such as roads, mobile phones, and electricity to stimulate economic growth in healthy ways while also improving the quality of life for citizens. Despite the age restriction on working in Bangladesh, child labor runs rampant in Bangladesh, with children as young as six beginning to work full-time. There are laws to prevent children under 14 from working full-time, but they are
not enforced, putting many children at risk. Impoverished children are a target for different clothing factories, with some children working up to 110 hours a week for $2 a day.
Bangladesh’s national security focuses on both traditional and non-traditional threats that make Bangladesh highly vulnerable to attack. Bangladesh’s most prevalent territorial threat is aggression and military conflicts with the neighboring country of Myanmar. Myanmar is very aggressive towards Bangladesh, and they have built walls to prevent Burmese immigrants from
fleeing to Bangladesh. Bangladesh also grapples with threats to domestic security, such as terrorist groups that operate throughout the country and tribal guerillas in the Chittagong Hills. Current active terrorist groups include Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham in Bangladesh (ISB); al-Qaida; al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
The current commander-in-chief of Bangladesh’s military is President Abdul Hamid, and the Head of the Armed Forces Division and Minister of Defence is prime minister Sheikh Hasina. One of Bangladesh’s most prominent organizations to promote national security is its National Security Intelligence (NSI). This group works under the direction and authority of Sheikh Hasina. The NSI works on counter-terrorism, counter-intelligence, and foreign intelligence efforts. A few smaller intelligence agencies in Bangladesh are the SB (Special Branch), the CID (Criminal Investigation Department), and the PBI (Police Bureau of Investigation). Bangladesh’s military consists of three main branches: The Bangladesh Army, the Bangladesh Navy, and the Bangladesh Air Force. In 2017, Bangladesh spent $4.35 Billion on military spending and production. This made up 1.35% of their total GDP for the year. However, they receive most of their military weapons and arms from China. A relatively recent development in Bangladesh’s security is its internet security. Nearly half the country has access to the internet, and the number is increasing exponentially. To provide security for the government, Bangladesh implemented the Digital Security Act in 2018, which criminalizes dissent against the government and can result in up to 14 years in prison for anybody who spreads propaganda and ideas criticizing the government. The Digital Security Act also drastically limits the volume of content and information that citizens have access to.
Role in the United Nations
Although Bangladesh fulfilled the requirements to graduate from its status in the UN as a Least Developed Country (LDC), it first joined the United Nations in September 1974. The struggling nation, having very few resources available to leverage its position, provided large numbers of troops for UN peacekeeping operations. Currently, Bangladesh is the second largest contributor of soldiers to the United Nations, providing nearly a tenth of all of the UN’s soldiers. Between 2001 and 2010, the UN gave Bangladesh $1.28 billion in compensation for providing soldiers to its operations. In return for Bangladesh’s contributions and membership, the United Nations supplies them with assistance and humanitarian aid for crises such as the massive influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Nearly one million refugees have immigrated to Bangladesh after they were denied citizenship in Myanmar. Unfortunately, due to a general under-preparedness and lack of resources, most refugees live in congested and under-supplied refugee camps. The government also plans to implement the UN guidelines for sustainable development by 2030 to help mitigate the effects of climate change. It has also taken steps toward achieving gender equality and eliminating human trafficking. However, child labor still runs rampant, and many students drop out rate was still 38% as of 2017, so Bangladesh still has work to do to meet the international standards for developed countries.
Current Role in Climate Change Mitigation
Bangladesh is a low-lying country and is vulnerable to flooding and cyclones. It stands to be badly affected by any rise in sea levels. They are a tropical environment with mild winters, hot, humid summers, and humid, warm rainy monsoon seasons. Due to large populations, most people are left landless and live on flood-prone land, leading to water pollution, especially in fishing areas. This can cause groundwater contamination, water shortages, massive soil degradation, erosion, deforestation, and destruction of wetlands. Prevalent air pollutants in Bangladesh include particulate matter, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and methane emissions. The severe overpopulation in Bangladesh also causes noise pollution. Bangladesh experiences about ⅖ of the world’s storm surge every year and have built over 200 new cyclone shelters and storm-resilient homes. Bangladesh has addressed climate change by being internationally recognized for cutting-edge achievements, such as investing over $10 billion to take action. They have also enhanced the capacity of communities to increase their resilience, adapting rural households’ farming systems and implementing early warning and emergency management systems. Bank funding also has supported projects in some of the poorest regions to build desalination plants and solar-powered irrigation and solar home systems, raise the plinths of homes to protect from future flooding, and help identify livelihoods largely insulated from frequent natural
disasters. Bangladesh has built 320 solar irrigation pumps benefiting 8,000 farmers, provided essential adaptive services for 40,000 families, provided 3.95 million remote households and rural shops with solar home systems– increasing access to electricity, installed seven mini-grids to provide continuous electricity to 2,000 rural businesses and shops and have improved the availability of energy through electricity transfers.