Profile of Permanent Representative
A brief on Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen
Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen is the Bangladesh Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in New York since August 26, 2009 with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Chile and the Republic of Peru. He is currently the Vice-Chair of the UN General Assembly. He was the Chair of the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in 2011-12. Dr. Momen was the chair of LDC (Least Developed Country) in 2009 and recently he concluded as the chair of PBC (Peacebuilding Commission). He was also Vice President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council for 2011-2012 sessions. In 2010 he was the President of the UNICEF Executive Board. Previously he was also the Coordinator for NAM Peacebuilding Caucus of the UN. He was Facilitator for the UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review 2010. Prior to joining the UN, he was the Chairman of the Business Administration and Economics Department at the Framingham State University, Massachusetts. Until Riyadh was rocked by successive bomb blasts in 2003, he was working there as an expert (Economic Adviser) under the Saudi Ministry of Finance and National Economy for few years.
Prior to that, he worked as a faculty in few colleges in Massachusetts namely the Merrimack College, the Salem State College, the Northeastern University, the University of Massachusetts, Cambridge College and the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University for many years. He also worked at the MIT and the World Bank, Washington D. C. for couple of years. He taught courses in economics and business administration. While in Saudi Arabia, Professor Momen received death threats as he spearheaded a movement against the abuse of Bangladeshi expatriates in the Middle East. In early 1990s, he started a movement to end trafficking of women and children into slave like servitude and due to his persistence plus media and others; abuse of young boys as ‘camel jockey’ in the Gulf countries virtually stopped and he repatriated and rehabilitated a few victims. His issue received bipartisan support in the U. S. under the stewardship of U. S. Senator Edward Kennedy and John Kerry plus Congressmen Joe Kennedy II and Barney Frank.
Nearly 154 U. S. lawmakers sent letters to the Gulf governments to end abuse of young boys and Massachusetts lawmakers repeatedly sent letters to the heads of the SAARC (comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) governments to take corrective actions. He launched a campaign to have a SAARC Resolution and a SAARC Fund for the victims and to create public awareness on trafficking. The Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised the resolution at the 10th SAARC Heads of Government Summit in Male and it was approved unanimously.
Dr. Momen testified before the U.S. Congress and the US Labor Dept in 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996 (1) to end Asian Slave trade, (2) to end Sexual Exploitation, (3) to stop Sexual Mutilation of young girls, and also (4) against Child Labor. Important newspapers like the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Eagle Tribune, the New York Times, LA Times, the Christian Science, and weeklies like the Time Magazine, the Newsweek, the Economist, the Lawyers, et al exposed the issue of trafficking and camel jockeys worldwide. In addition, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, and major media covered it. Owing to pressure, President Bill Clinton signed two bills into laws that made it a criminal offence to have sexual abuse of minor children or genital mutilation of girls by Americans both home and abroad, and in addition, the U. S. government created an Office of Assistant Secretary of State for Trafficking to report and monitor trafficking of women and children country-wise. Because of his humanitarian and social works, he received many awards namely, the “Home Town Hero” by the Eagle Tribune, the “Humanitarian Award’ by the North America Bangladesh Medical Association, ‘Friend of the Poor’ by the Probani, Inc of New York, and the ‘Mukto-Gaaner Paki’ by the Marupalash, Saudi Arabia. The Bangladesh-America Foundation Inc. of Washington D. C. honored him with its ‘Our Pride’ citation in 2004 and the American Women Empowerment group awarded him their ‘Gentleman of the Year’ Award in 2007.
Dr. Momen helped in sending nearly $2 million worth of ‘used and usable’ medical equipment to Bangladeshi hospitals through the American Medical Resources Foundation, Inc, Boston. Dr. Momen’s efforts to waive the debt-burden of Bangladesh after the Gulf War was approved and the U. S. government was kind to waive substantial debt burden of Bangladesh. In 1989 after the devastating flood, the Massachusetts State Legislature passed a resolution asking President to help Bangladesh flood victims and the U. S. government sent ‘sea angels’ to Bangladesh. In addition, after the Bangladesh Convention in Boston, the Chairperson of U. S. Wage and Means Committee Congressman Chester Atkins that led a session on Bangladesh Flood at the event was successful to allocate nearly $150m to the Bangladesh flood disaster.
Dr. Momen has been a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in late 1980s and worked as South Asia Advisor of the Dukakis Presidential Campaign in 1988 and also worked for the Kerry campaign in 2004. He was subcommittee Chair of the Harvard’s Kennedy School New England Alumni Council and a member of the Amnesty International. He was the President of the Women & Children International (WCI), Inc., a humanitarian organization of Boston and also President of the Foundation for Eye Hospital, Bangladesh. He was a Director of the American Anti-Slavery organization and is also involved with the philanthropic institutions like the Teenage Safe Home, Gazipur, the Uthsho, Rayer Bazar, the Home of Joy, Khulna. He is a life member of the New England Islamic Society (USA), the Bangladesh Economic Association, the Jalalabad Association, and the Dhaka University Alumni Association, Dhaka.
He was Co-Chairman of the ‘Committee for Democratic Bangladesh’ (1986-90) in USA and he organized movement for restoration of multi-party democracy in Bangladesh. He was instrument in arranging a Congressional Hearing on Bangladesh in 1988 for restoration of multi-party democracy in Bangladesh. He is always in the forefront of prodemocracy and humanitarian movements in USA.
Professor Momen is a columnist, a researcher and an activist. He has published over 250 papers and articles both in professional journals as well as in others. He authored two books and visited all continents.
Professor Momen was Chairperson of the 3rd FOBANA Convention in Boston in 1989. He was also President of the Bangladesh Association of New England, Boston. Prior to coming to the Harvard University as a Ford Foundation and Mason Fellow to pursue higher education in 1978, he worked in the Bangladesh government service. In 1971 he was captured and tortured by the Pakistani occupation army. In 1982 he was forcibly retired from Bangladesh government service under Martial Law Order No. 9 (that has been declared null and void by the Bangladesh High Court) in 2005 as he opposed military rule.
Dr. Momen has developed an administrative and political management program known as TGS to achieve accelerated development of Bangladesh or developing countries. Professor Momen has a PhD in economics and an MBA in business administration from the Northeastern University (Boston), an MPA in public administration, public policy and international economics from the Harvard University (Cambridge), a LLB in Law, an MA in development economics and a BA (Honors) from the University of Dhaka. He is married and he lives with his wife Selina Momen. They have five children; three daughters and two sons.