Say Hello to Bangladesh

6th March  2024

Shaping international relations while adorning a well-tailored suit together with other well-dressed diplomats is what many students of Freie Universität Berlin dream of. For those who aspire a career within international politics events like the National Model United Nations, abbreviated as NMUN, present a good opportunity to conduct international policymaking firsthand. The experience offers an opportunity for students from all programs to acquire knowledge about  international power relations and dynamics, as they need to fully delve into and reflect their countries’ stance and outlook on contemporary global issues. NMUN is an international model UN, in which students from participating universities get the chance to represent the interests of a Member State within the UN’s various committees. Each committee addresses different issue related to its real-world mandate.

As such, students within the committee of UN Women might address the question of how to combat gender-based violence in the context of climate catastrophes, students within the International Atomic Energy Agency might be tasked with finding an international consensus on how to dispose of atomic waste, and students within the United Nations Environment Assembly might need to discuss which actions the international community must take to battle the mass extinction of life under water. The objective of each committee is to draw up and pass a resolution. Resolutions denote the will of the UN bodies that issue them. They act as a guideline for appropriate measures taken by Member States. With the exception of the Security Council, they are not legally binding, however. The latest NMUN conference took place between the 22nd and 24th of November in Erfurt, Thuringia. During the event Freie Universität Berlin took on the role of Bangladesh representing the countries interests in the Human Rights Council, the United Nations Environment Assembly as well as the General Assembly.

The Delegation of FU received great support from their real-life counterpart: The Embassy of Bangladesh. One of the diplomats working within the Embassy, Mr. Kabir, who specializes in the fields of climate, science and technology, had offered to share his experiences with the six-person Delegation in a briefing session giving the students the opportunity to engage with him on the obstacles Bangladeshi diplomats are confronted with on a day-to-day basis. The exchange presented itself to be quite unique in terms of it encompassing candid discussions on the strengths and weaknesses of Bangladesh’s international standing. In a very transparent manner Mr. Kabir emphasized his home country’s ambitious climate action policies while touching upon the fact that the country needs to further develop its labor rights and female participation on a national level.

Going the extra mile, Mr. Kabir even visited the Delegation of FU in Erfurt while the conference was held, stating that he did this primarily to encourage the students, but also because he was curious to see how they were performing. The presence of the diplomat also sent out a very clear message to all other university students: Bangladesh will support you on your path to learn more about international relations. According to Mr. Kabir himself, the people-to-people contacts are essential for his work as a Bangladeshi diplomat in Germany. Among many other things the work of the Embassy in Bangladesh aims to strengthen its bilateral relationship with Germany, one of Bangladesh’ longest standing trade partners and among the EU its most significant developmental partner. Furthermore, the Embassy regularly communicates with German think tanks in order to not only convey its interests and aspiration but also to learn Germany’s stance on important issues in order to better find a middle ground between the two positions.

In a subsequent interview he highlighted that political relations depend on the legacy and perspective of the countries involved. Politics is not solely grounded upon what is happening in the moment, but the history that came before it. Having been in existence for 53 years, of which ten constituted a military rule, Bangladesh is a relatively young country. These historical conditions greatly impact the countries standing and leverage during each and every negotiation, be it with the neighboring Myanmar or with a Member State of the European Union, like Germany. Politicians and people taking an interest in politics need to acknowledge that these encounters are shaped by the different realities people and nations have experienced. Many disagreements are not the result of conflicting values inherent to the parties involved, but more so due to their different needs and priorities. Uncontextualized comparisons of varying national perspectives and solutions concerning any political issue is quite the fallacy. However, the fact is that many people in Germany don’t know enough about Bangladesh as an international player for this to happen.

The Embassy of Bangladesh takes an active approach towards this issue. Its doors are wide open for anyone interested in working together with or within the Embassy. This includes the opportunity of internships, which are not bound to any specific nationality, or conducting research with the possibility of collaborating with students or supervisors in Bangladesh. As previously mentioned, Bangladesh is most ambitious in regard to its commitment to climate action. One example of this is the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, which aims to completely reconstruct the world's largest natural Delta within the span of 82 years to make the country more resilient towards climate catastrophes and enable a sustainable usage of the land. This national action plan and others like it may be of interest to students from the Geology Department, who would like to conduct first-hand research on climate change and countermeasures for it. Beyond the field of climate action there are many valuable opportunities to engage with the people of Bangladesh. Be it through debates, forums or cultural events.   

During his visit in Erfurt and the following interview Mr. Kabir made it very clear that he and the Embassy were more than happy to support any student from Freie Universität Berlin who has any suggestions or ideas on how relations between Bangladesh and the FU could be established and tended to. This type of engaging bottom-up diplomacy with the youth is a breath of fresh air when it comes to how diplomats conduct their business as representatives of their country. During all of his engagements with students from FU, Mr. Kabir always kept an honest and positive attitude. Being candid about the country’s contemporary problems while expressing hope that one day these issues might be solved through combined efforts, demonstrates the very essence of what diplomacy can be: An honest attempt of improving the lives of some, without it coming at the expense of others. On the contrary, good and honest diplomacy done right might even see all as beneficiaries. Mr. Kabir showed the students from the FU NMUN Delegation that being a diplomat amounts to more than just wearing a well-tailored suit and some shiny shoes. At its core it is about building trust between people and nations which live in different realities. Being a diplomat is about being a decent human being.

For those interested in working together with the Embassy of Bangladesh: Here is Mr. Kabir’s contact information.


Twitter: @tanvirmofa29

linkedIn: Tanvir Kabir

For those interested in learning more about the UN take a look at the seminars Peggy Wittke offers every semester!