The Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has pledged “all her support” for the Commonwealth’s “Peace at the Crease” initiative plus more collaboration to encourage Commonwealth trade.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland spoke with the Prime Minister during her first official visit to the country.
The Secretary-General briefed the Prime Minister on the Peace at the Crease initiative and Commonwealth’s commitment to using sport as a development tool:
“This new initiative uses the popularity of cricket as a way to bring people of faith and those of none together to face some of the most challenging issues of today,” she said. “It will include Commonwealth Community Cricketing Cups which will involve players of all genders and across age groups, from young people under the age of 19 to people over the age of 60. Peace at the Crease will also involve capacity building and policy development on the use of cricket, and sport more broadly, as a tool to advance sustainable development and peacebuilding, including mobilising people in rural areas which often do not get proper attention to their developmental needs.”
The Peace at the Crease initiative will complement the work the Commonwealth Secretariat is currently undertaking to help Bangladesh revise their national sport policy to enhance the contribution of sport to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the country. It also aligns with the Faith in the Commonwealth programme which aims at empowering young leaders from diverse backgrounds in facilitating reconciliation and building trust among different faiths and communities.
The Secretary-General applauded the impact of a Faith in the Commonwealth workshop which took place in Dhaka early this year. The workshop engaged 28 young leaders to connect and share the values of global citizenship, facilitate community dialogue and widen the call for social change.
The Prime Minister praised the initiative and promised to support it.
The Secretary-General also underscored the importance of the Commonwealth trade advantage that benefits all 53 member countries. “There is a 19 per cent trade advantage when we trade with one another because of our common laws, institutions, traditions and values,” she said. “We are now working on a new trade facilitation agreement to create new intra-operable measures that can improve intra-Commonwealth trade and investment. This agreement will reduce barriers that hinder trade and will strengthen investment and connectivity, making trade across the Commonwealth easier, cheaper and faster. This will enhance connectivity for Small and Medium Enterprises network.”
The Prime Minister said she would speed up the economic activities within the Commonwealth, including through the development of the blue and green economy. She mentioned that her government is working on women’s and youth empowerment to encourage their participation in the socioeconomic development in an attempt to reduce poverty and inequality.
The Secretary-General said she appreciated the Prime Minister's decision to take in 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims who have been displaced by violence in Myanmar and called it “great compassion and leadership.”
The two also discussed the critical significance of upholding transparency, the rule of law and human rights in a democratic society as enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter. The Secretary-General presented the Prime Minister with a copy of the Charter to underline the importance of participatory democracy as an integral part of the electoral process.