Globe, the Geneva Graduate Institute Review
04 December 2023

Human Rights and National Security in Bangladesh

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Interview with Mahbubur Rahman, Senior Fellow in Residence at the Global Migration Centre

You are originally from Bangladesh and are Senior Fellow in Residence at the Global Migration Centre. What was your background before coming to the Institute?

I was awarded the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship to conduct a postdoctoral study in human rights at the Department of International Law at the Geneva Graduate Institute from 2022 to 2023. This enabled me to affiliate with the Global Migration Centre as a Senior Fellow in Residence. Before coming to the Institute, I was working as a Protection Focal Point in two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

I started my career as a Lecturer of Political Science at the University of Development Alternative in Dhaka. Later, I worked with several UN agencies including the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme. I was the Coordinator of the Bangladesh Civil Society Coordination Committee for Migration, Development and Human Rights. I was also affiliated as a researcher with the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit and the University of East Anglia, UK.

I hold a master’s degree in English from BRAC University and a PhD in Gender and Politics from University of Dhaka. A number of my research works, including my Masters and PhD theses, have been published nationally and internationally. My research interests are on human rights, security, refugee, migration, displacement and gender issues.


You worked for 12 months at the Institute on a research project linking human rights and national security in Bangladesh. Why did you choose this subject and what are the results of this project?

Through nearly five years of work experience in Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, I was able to observe many correlations between human rights and national security. Violations put the Rohingya refugees in extremely vulnerable conditions and forced them to resort to serious crimes and to collaborate with various armed and criminal groups, as well as traffickers and smugglers for the sake of survival, resulting in non-traditional security threats to the country. I consequently chose the subject as my postdoctoral research project at the Institute so that I could examine my primary observations in the light of International laws and theories and accordingly draw policy recommendations.

A Canadian research institute reached out to me with a request to contribute a chapter to a book on the Rohingya issues.      My participation in the book is      an immediate result of my collaboration with the Institute. A joint publication with renowned Professor Vincent Chetail, my postdoc supervisor and Director of the Global Migration Centre, is also ongoing. I believe that these works in concert will encourage Bangladesh to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the full human rights of its inhabitants, especially the human rights of refugees, migrants and other displaced peoples in order to better protect its national security.


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