Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury is a politician from Bangladesh with an impressive track record in public service spanning two decades.
Having begun his career in the private sector as an entrepreneur, Mr. Chowdhury embraced full-time politics in 1996. In a distinguished career, he has excelled in various roles and responsibilities in parliament, government, political party and sports administration.
He is a graduate of School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and holds a Joint Honors degree in Economics and Politics. He has also received a Diploma in Law from University of Westminster, United Kingdom having completed the academic stage for entry to the Bar.
As a Parliamentarian
He is the 28th President of Inter-Parliamentary Union, having been elected to the position on 16th October 2014 for a term of 3 years. He is the first Bangladeshi to have been elected to this highest office of global parliamentary leadership.
Established in 1889 and currently headquartered in Geneva, IPU is the world organization of parliaments and is the focal point for worldwide parliamentary dialogue. IPU supports the efforts of and works in close cooperation with United Nations whose objectives its shares. It enjoys Permanent Observer status at the UN.
IPU’s current membership includes 167 national parliaments, having 45,000 members of parliaments who in turn represent 6.5 billion people across the world.
As IPU President, he is also a member of the high level group - Every Woman Every Child - a global movement to champion the health of women, children and adolescents led by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The group’s members comprise leaders from governments around the world, the international business community, philanthropists and prominent young people.
First elected as a Member of Parliament from a central constituency in Dhaka in June 1996, he has been prominent in the enactment, through Private Member Bills, of groundbreaking legislation such as repeal of the Leper’s Act (doing away with the segregation of lepers and facilitating their treatment and integration into society).
As a former prisoner of conscience (recognized by Amnesty International) who was subjected to repeated detention and custodial violence, he tabled a private member bill in Bangladesh’s Parliament in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was adopted as the Torture & Custodial Death (Prohibition) Act, 2013.
He has also successfully initiated and promoted an amendment in Constitution of Bangladesh that now ensures protection of the environment and biodiversity for present and future generations.
Now serving his third term in the Parliament, he is Chair of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Jute and Textiles. He is also a Member of the Petition Committee and the Committee on Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives.
Much of his political effort, engagement and advocacy at national and international levels have focused on climate change, disaster risk reduction, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda.
He co-authored a joint parliamentary Inquiry on climate change equity by the Parliaments of Bangladesh and the United Kingdom, a worldwide first in inter-parliamentary cooperation and networking, which was released in Copenhagen in December 2009 during the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP 15).
He has been actively involved in Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) initiatives and served as a CPA resource person on orientation and capacity-building for Members of Parliament from Africa and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the meeting of the Small Island and Developing States Study Group on the Role of Parliament in Climate Change, held in Zanzibar, Tanzania, in May 2011.
In November 2012, at the invitation of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Office in Viet Nam, Mr. Chowdhury shared his experience in the adoption of disaster risk reduction legislation with the National Assembly of Viet Nam.
As Chair of the Asian Advisory Group of Parliamentarians for Disaster Risk Reduction and Global Champion of the United Nations Office on Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), he has worked with parliamentarians in Seoul (Rep. of Korea) in 2012 and Vientiane (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) in 2014 and led the process of parliamentary consultations on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the successor to Hyogo.
As Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), championing the cause of international peace, he has urged that resources dedicated to nuclear weapons should be made available for development purposes.
As a parliamentarian, he has been very active at the constituency level where he has pioneered community initiatives on health care, tobacco control, youth empowerment, self-employment schemes, micro-credit (for women in particular) and legal aid.
As a Member of the Cabinet
Mr. Chowdhury served as Deputy Minister of Ministry of Ports & Shipping and, later, as Deputy Minister for Local Government, Rural Development & Cooperatives, one of Bangladesh’s largest development Ministries (1999-2001).
He was the youngest Member of the Cabinet during this period and is widely acknowledged for injecting dynamism and energy and adding new dimensions in the works of the Ministry.
At Political Party Level
Mr. Chowdhury was appointed in October 2001 as Political Secretary to President of Bangladesh Awami League, Sheikh Hasina, who was then the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.
Shortly thereafter, he was elected Organizing Secretary (1) of the Party with responsibility for Dhaka Division that accounts for 90 of Bangladesh’s 300 electoral constituencies. Bangladesh Awami League won all of these 90 seats in the December 2008 elections. He continued in both these positions till 2009.
As a Sports Administrator
Mr. Chowdhury’s inspiring vision and leadership as President of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) from 1996-2001 was instrumental in the country’s elevation to Full Membership (attainment of Test Status) of the International Cricket Council and cricket’s transformation as Bangladesh’s most popular sport.
In 2000, BCB was recognized and bestowed with Bangladesh's highest national honor, Independence Award. In 2003, he was awarded Honorary Life Membership by Marylebone Cricket Club of Lords, England, in recognition of his services to cricket as an administrator.