Protecting Bangladesh's Economic Stability: A Human Rights Imperative
East and South Asia Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
In recent times, Bangladesh has faced a daunting challenge that extends beyond economic concerns into the realm of human rights [The Daily Star, 26 September 2023]. Indicating critical issue of Bangladesh's economic stability and the human rights implications it entails [The Business Standard, 28 September 2023]. As the nation grapples with dwindling reserves, a tightening of dollar liquidity, and a series of credit rating downgrades from major agencies [The Daily Star, 26 September 2023][Investing.com, 26 September 2023], it is imperative to explore how these economic woes intersect with human rights principles and standards.
The economic landscape of Bangladesh has been marked by a steady decline in foreign currency reserves, prompting international rating agencies, including Fitch Ratings, S&P Global Ratings, and Moody's Investors Service, to revise the nation's sovereign rating outlook to negative [The Business Standard, 28 September 2023] [The Daily Star, 26 September 2023] [Investing.com, 26 September 2023]. Despite a $4.7 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in January 2023 [Investing.com, 26 September 2023], concerns about Bangladesh's economic health persist. Fitch Ratings predicts that foreign reserves fell by a staggering 19% in the first nine months of 2023, exacerbating vulnerabilities and challenges [The Business Standard, 28 September 2023] [The Daily Star, 26 September 2023]. This precarious economic situation, coupled with low revenue collection, weak governance in the banking sector, and a lack of foreign direct investments, paints a bleak picture for Bangladesh's economic future [The Business Standard, 28 September 2023] [The Daily Star, 26 September 2023].
Beyond its economic dimensions, the situation in Bangladesh warrants a human rights analysis. The right to an adequate standard of living, enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), includes access to food, clothing, housing, and medical care. The economic downturn in Bangladesh, marked by rising inflation due to currency depreciation [The Daily Star, 26 September 2023], threatens the realization of this fundamental right for many of its citizens. As the domestic market grapples with commodity shortages, basic necessities become less accessible, disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations.
Furthermore, the erosion of economic stability in Bangladesh directly impacts the right to work, as articulated in Article 23 of the UDHR. High unemployment rates and reduced foreign direct investments hinder the country's ability to generate employment opportunities for its citizens, thereby violating their right to work and contribute to their own economic well-being.
The right to an effective remedy for violations of economic, social, and cultural rights, as outlined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), becomes particularly pertinent in this context. If Bangladesh fails to take effective measures to address its economic challenges and protect the rights of its citizens, it could be deemed in violation of its obligations under the ICESCR.
In conclusion, the economic instability faced by Bangladesh is not merely a financial concern; it is a human rights imperative. The erosion of economic stability threatens the rights to an adequate standard of living, work, and access to effective remedies for violations of economic, social, and cultural rights^[UN UDHR] [ICESCR]. As Bangladesh navigates these economic challenges, it must do so with a steadfast commitment to upholding the human rights of its citizens, ensuring that their dignity and well-being remain at the forefront of policy decisions and actions [The Business Standard, 28 September 2023] [DD News, 26 September]. Addressing the economic crisis through a human rights lens is not only ethically sound but also essential for the long-term prosperity and stability of the nation.
The Daily Star. (26 September 2023). Now Fitch has negative outlook on Bangladesh. Available at https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/now-fitch-has-negative-outlook-bangladesh-3427931.
Investing.com. (26 September 2023). Fitch Ratings downgrades Bangladesh's economic outlook amid tightening dollar liquidity. Available at https://www.investing.com/news/economy/fitch-ratings-downgrades-bangladeshs-economic-outlook-amid-tightening-dollar-liquidity-93CH-3182491.
DD News. (26 September 2023). Fitch downgrades Bangladesh's foreign debt outlook to negative. Available https://ddnews.gov.in/international/fitch-downgrades-bangladeshs-foreign-debt-outlook-negative-0.
The Business Standard. (28 September 2023). Understanding the implications of Fitch downgrading Bangladesh's sovereign rating outlook. Available at https://www.tbsnews.net/features/panorama/understanding-implications-fitch-downgrading-bangladeshs-sovereign-rating-outlook.