The past year has been a challenging one for democracy in Bangladesh. The months running up to the January 5, 2014 parliamentary elections were scarred by endless rounds of around-the-clock hartals (strikes) and road blockades that took a toll on both the Bangladeshi economy and the national psyche, as the country witnessed rarely-seen levels of violence that often targeted innocent people. The elections were flawed. Reflecting a boycott by the opposition parties, more than half of the 300 parliamentary seats were uncontested, and the rest largely involved only token opposition. Since the elections, violence has continued, albeit of a different nature involving abductions, disappearances and allegations of extra-judicial killings.
Meanwhile, the nation’s economy continues to grow at an impressive, albeit reduced rate. Bangladesh remains on track to achieve Millennium Development Goals for reducing poverty and slashing maternal and child-under-five mortality. The apparel sector is progressing toward international standards for fire safety, factory structural soundness and workers’ rights. What was the impact of this turbulent political year on America’s partnership with Bangladesh? How should the U.S. engage with this pivotal Muslim-majority country to further encourage economic and development growth and to bolster the nation’s emerging democratic institutions?
Dan Mozena has served as U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh for nearly three years. While in this position, he has worked to advance the interests of the people of America, Bangladesh and the region by promoting a Bangladesh that is peaceful, secure, prosperous, healthy and democratic. Join us to hear Ambassador Mozena relate his experiences and his vision for US–Bangladesh relations.
More About the Speakers
Ambassador Dan W. Mozena
U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh
Director, Asian Studies Center