15th Anniversary of the CHT Accord Signing; Policy Dialogue on CHT Accord: Achievements, lessons learnt and the Way Forward

Dec 2, 2012

Statement by Mr. Stefan Priesner
UNDP Country Director

Hon’ble Chief Guest Prof. Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister;
Hon’ble Chair Mr. Hasanul Haque Inu MP, Minister, Ministry of Information;
Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, Chairman, CHT Regional Council;
Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Chairman, NHRC;
Prof. Dr. AAMS Arefeen Siddique, Vice Chancellor, Dhaka University;
Major General (retd) Ameen Ahmed Chowdhury, Bir Pratik, Freedom Fighter and Former Ambassador;
Mr. Fazie Hossain Badshah MP, Chief Advisor, Jatio Adivasi Parishad;
Respected panelists, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Assalam Walaikum and Namashkar. My warmest greetings on behalf of UNDP during the inauguration of this important policy dialogue on CHT Accord

  • Bangladesh is rightly recognized for its contributions to international peace building through its regular and valued participation in peacekeeping missions in many countries. The signing of the CHT Peace Accord on 2 December 1997 is another important contribution to peace that Bangladesh and the signatories to the Accord can be proud of.
  • Unlike most peace processes and agreements, the CHT Peace Accord is an entirely homegrown solution to the CHT issue which recognises that only a political, and not a military solution can bring about sustainable peace.
  • In keeping with this, it is very fitting on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the inking of the Accord, that the Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous Peoples is organizing this Policy Dialogue that brings together both parties, committed to preserving the CHT as a unique region where local communities will be empowered to make governance and development decisions affecting their daily lives.
  • Key steps have been taken to implement the Peace Accord including the passing of important legislation such as the CHT Regional Council and Hill District Council Acts in Parliament; the establishment of key CHT institutions such as the Regional Council, the Hill District Councils and the Ministry of CHT Affairs (MoCHTA).
  • Other achievements include the rehabilitation of refugees from India and the withdrawal of some 66 temporary military camps as part of the demilitarization of the region and the transfer to the CHT police of 150 police personnel originally from the region to make the CHT police more ethnically representative of the region.
  • However, some key aspects of the Peace Accord remain unfulfilled. Out of 33 subjects to be transferred to the Hill District Councils, around 20 functions have been fully or partially transferred. Regarding functions that were transferred Finances and Functionaries have not been effected to make the transfer meaningful. The most crucial subjects such as law and order of the district, land and land management, local police, secondary education, youth welfare, non-reserved forests, the environment, local tourism and maintenance of statistics are yet to be transferred.
  • The Hill District Councils remain unelected without a mandate or accountability which is worrying in terms of the lack of democratic governance.
  • The CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act has yet to be amended so that it is consistent with the Peace Accord and this has held up the resolution of land disputes in the CHT which is a key pillar of the Accord and crucial to sustainable peace in the CHT.
  • The role of the CHT Regional Council as the apex institution in the CHT that should be consulted in the making any law in connection with the CHT remains untested.
  • That said, it is important to emphasize that the Prime Minister has pledged to implement the Accord and we strongly believe that significant steps can be taken by the Government to deliver relevant results or quick wins.
  • These include: moving forward with
    • mixed policing;
    • amendment of the Land Commission Act and appointment of a new chairman acceptable to all parties;
    • transfer, not necessarily of more functions for the main sectors, but the finances and functionaries to go with the 20 odd functions already transferred to HDCs;
    • and a dialogue on elections regarding the two main sticking points: representational arrangement and ‘who votes for whom’.
  • On the 15th anniversary of the CHT Accord signing, this policy dialogue brings together important stakeholders to take stock of what has been achieved, share lessons learned, identify bottlenecks in implementation and, crucially, to come to a consensus on the way forward on what needs to be done so that this significant Peace Accord can be fully implemented and held up as an unqualified success story in peace building.
  • UNDP is pleased to support this important endeavor and I wish you all success in the days ahead. We look forward to the outcomes from the panels which will help all stakeholders committed to the implementation of the Peace Accord move forward.
Thank you very much. 

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