This year, the United States is going to organise the second ‘Summit for Democracy,’ scheduled to commence on March 29 with the name of Bangladesh again left out of the list of countries invited to join the much-talked-about democracy event’ – thereby drawing flak from different quarters.
The US State Department recently published the list of 110 invitees to the second Summit for Democracy with India, Pakistan, Nepal and Maldives representing South Asia this time. According to a statement by the US State Department, this second summit will highlight how democracies deliver for their citizens and are best equipped to address the world’s most pressing challenges. Bangladesh has been upset upon seeing the list of invited countries. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen previously expressed optimism about receiving invitation to the summit. Even the then US South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau Deputy Assistant Secretary Ambassador Kelly Keiderling, during a visit to Dhaka in 2021, also hinted at including Bangladesh in the second summit.
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The US, as a propagator of democracy and promoter of democratic norms worldwide, has been hosting this self-styled democracy summit since assuming the office by President Joe Biden. During its first democracy summit in December 2021, the US hosted a total of about 100 countries. Although there were questions raised over the list of exclusions that included Bangladesh, a total of 750 commitments were made during that auspicious event to advance democracies across the globe.
What has the US said?
US State Department Councillor Derek Chollet, during his recent visit to Bangladesh, said Bangladesh’s decision to not come up with a plan of action for democracy let to it being excluded from the US’ Summit for Democracy this year. According to him, the countries that are participating in the second edition of the world summit on democracy were asked to submit action plans on how they would strengthen their democracies in the coming year. Bangladesh failed to provide with this action plan. Thus, the countries that did not provide the required action plan were not invited to this year’s conference.
Invitees include countries with worse democratic index
Although Bangladesh didn’t get an invitation to attend the democracy summit, the neighbouring countries of South Asia, like India, Pakistan, Nepal, and the Maldives, did receive an invitation. According to the democracy index calculated by wise voters, many countries are in much worse shape. Noteworthy among them are Pakistan, Liberia, Nepal, Iraq, etc. Pakistan, a country having a tough time in its political circuit, is way behind Bangladesh in the democracy index. This country’s index is 4.3, for which its ranking is 104. The status of Pakistan as a democratic state itself is a debatable one. Democratic countries are supposed to have a persistent government on their side, whereas Pakistan has been debated as a failed state by many. There is no law and order in place, and there is not even a justice system at work that can enforce these laws and justice. It is in a perpetual state of both democracy and anarchy simultaneously. Iraq is a country that, according to the same consensus, is ranked at 116, whereas in the case of Bangladesh, the position is only 71. Not only that, but also Turkey has a democracy index of 3.5, which is 2.5 below Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the liberal democracy index of Iraq is 0.22, while that of Bangladesh is 0.12. Thus, in terms of democracy, Bangladesh is much ahead of many of the invited countries.
Bangladesh’s takeaways from the latest exclusion
However, in light of the event, our Foreign Minister, Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, said that it does not matter if Bangladesh is invited or not. Many US residents think that the US is neither a perfect example of a democracy nor the first one. Thus, our not getting invited to the democracy should not be a matter of much concern. On the other hand, the US president said in a statement, “No matter how challenging the problems we face, we know that democracy remains the best tool we have to unleash our human potential and deliver for all our people, and we will continue to champion it.” Yet their call for democracy is only a matter of selfinterest. Since the end of the Cold War, democracy has been one of the major tools used by the US to promote its vision of capitalism and, hence, imperialism. There is no right way to practice democracy. Any binding factor embedded in democracy negates the definition of democracy itself. As a result, all we can do is focus on doing what is best for the country and learning how to develop sustainably. After all, the hegemony of a hegemon may fall, but the satellite states always prevail.