Statements

    Bismillah Ah-Rahman Ah-Raheem

    Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates,

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Ah-salaam Alaikum, and good afternoon

    On 19 October 1987, the former President of Maldives Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, spoke at the UN General Assembly and warned about the dangers that the Maldives was facing from climate change, and said (and I quote), "a mean sea level rise of 2 metres would suffice to virtually submerge the entire country of 1190 islands, most of which barely rise two metres above mean sea level. That would be the death of a nation” (end of quote).  

    That was the beginning of our advocacy work: on the vulnerability of small islands states on building resilience of, and on mitigating against the impacts of climate change. For over three decades, we have persistently brought this issue to the forefront of international debates.

    Some have tried to tame the Maldives for leading this cause. Such challenges only increase our resolve to argue for stronger measures. Fundamental rights of people, including those in small island developing states, should be protected, especially from the drastic effects of climate change. We will remain relentless and steadfast in our call on the countries responsible to pay for the loss and damage.

    Mr. President

    The Maldives recognises that its advocacy can only continue by building its national resilience: politically, socially and economically. The Government of His Excellency President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom believe that investing in the country’s young democracy is the best way for making the nation politically resilient. Our efforts have been at times welcomed, at times jeopardised, and at times challenged, by various actors, both nationally and internationally. Despite that, our commitment remains firm.

    We will, Insha Allah, transform the Maldives into an advanced democracy; a democracy that protects every individual’s rights; a democracy that sustains human development; and a democracy that allows prosperity to thrive. We would not be able to reach there just in days, weeks, or even years; history shows that it takes at least few generations to bring and sustain democratic change in a society. To achieve that we need support and encouragement, to light up the road ahead. But we definitely do not wish to be bullied as we climb uphill on this journey. All we are asking is to give the people of the Maldives the chance, the space, and to give us the privilege to work at our own pace, in our own way, facing our challenges, and learning from them.

    Mr President:

    When I stood here in 2014, I pledged that our work in this Council would continue to be based on universality, objectivity, non-selectivity, and impartiality. Despite challenges, we have come a long way in achieving those objectives.

    We have reiterated the call, to refrain from politicising the Council and to keep the focus on promoting and protecting human rights. We have advocated on bringing the perspective of Small Island Developing States to the Council which had led to the establishment of the voluntary trust fund for SIDS and LDCs, and the UPR support for SIDS.

    The Maldives had its second review of UPR in May 2015. We received praise for our achievements; especially in strengthening the legal framework to safeguard the rights of women and children, and particularly for the enactment of key ground-breaking legislations. Over 60 per cent of legislations enacted in the last two years relate to the promotion and protection of human rights. The Maldives also just recently engaged in a long and constructive dialogue with the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

    Reporting on every treaty body and mechanism is increasingly becoming a burden for small states. The assessments of countries need to be based on their strengths, weaknesses, and limitations; not on a yardstick that is unrealistic. Let us establish a pragmatic vision for a Council that helps, not hinders, countries to promote and protect human rights.

    The rule of law remains the most important vehicle through which human rights can be protected. It is the anchor that allows countries to achieve economic and social development. Yet, we are asked by some, to set aside the laws in place, for one or two individuals. Such suggestions undermine efforts to protect human rights in the country. That is why the Government of President Yameen has made it a priority to uphold the law and will not be apologetic for doing that despite international pressure. And that is why the Government is working with its international partners, to ensure that people have confidence in the legal framework.

    Mr President:

    The Maldives has been observing the political turmoil across the globe. Countries across the world continue to be plagued by an endless cycle of violence and destruction. The escalating refugee crisis in Europe demands our unwavering attention and solidarity to find lasting solutions. I appeal to this Council, to be persistent in its efforts to address the root causes of these conflicts.

    Every day we hear of confused people from across the world, joining terrorist groups created in the name of Islam. The Maldives has repeatedly condemned gross violations of human rights committed by these groups, and taken measures to curb this in our own country. Just a few days ago, the President of Maldives established the National Counter Terrorism Centre. The struggle against radicalism and terrorism need stronger global and unified efforts to succeed.

    Mr President

    The Maldives is pleased that the Palestinian flag is finally waving outside this building. While it is a symbolic triumph, a true victory will be the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the 1965 borders. Until then, we will continue to remain steadfast in our strong support for the people of the State of Palestine.

    As our second term at the Human Rights Council ends this year, we celebrate the productive debates we have led, the meaningful contributions we have made, and the new ideas we have proposed. We take this opportunity to pay our dues to our friends, our partners who have contributed to our development, and our critics who have encouraged us to strive for more.

    As this Council completes its tenth year since establishment, we must not only celebrate our achievements. But also address our challenges. Resolutions of the Council should not be mere rhetoric. It should have bearing on the people fleeing war; the hungry child on a boat in the ocean; or every single man, woman, and child, who slowly see their hope for a better future diminish. We, this Council, need to revive that beautiful hope and dream of love, freedom, and humanity.

     We need to work together to cultivate respect for values, cultivate cultures that understand and respect the beauty of difference. It is time we stop dictating; it is time we start listening with intent: listen to the pleas of the people, hear their cries. Walk in each other’s shoes for a while. Perhaps then we can understand better, and bring about meaningful progress; progress that we are proud of; progress that is sustainable; progress that we can leave behind for our children and for our children’s children.

    I thank you all

    10 February 2016, London; The new High Commissioner, H.E Mr. Ahmed Shiaan presented his credentials to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 10 February 2016 at a formal ceremony held at Buckingham Palace. The presentation marked the official assumption of duties as High Commissioner of the Republic of Maldives to the United Kingdom. 

    The High Commissioner was escorted to Buckingham Palace in a state carriage by the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps from Hyatt Regency London. The High Commissioner was accompanied by Deputy High Commissioner, Hassan Shifau and Minister Counselor, Geela Ali who were welcomed warmly by The Queen at Buckingham Palace. During the ceremony the High Commissioner presented his Letters of Credence to The Queen who then accredited him as the High Commissioner of the Republic of Maldives. The High Commissioner thanked Her Majesty the Queen for the audience and conveyed greetings from H.E President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to Her Majesty the Queen and expressed the desire to further strengthen positive relations between the two countries. Her Majesty the Queen recalled with pleasure her visit to the Maldives in 1972 and conveyed her best regards to H.E President Yameen and the people of Maldives.

    The High Commissioner H.E Mr. Ahmed Shiaan later hosted a Vin D’Honneur at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill which was attended by a number of British Parliamentarians, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Foreign Office Officials. 

    ENDS

    November 2015 marks the second anniversary of President Yameen’s election to office and provides a fitting opportunity to highlight the remarkable foreign policy achievements of the government so far.

    The Foreign Policy of the Republic of Maldives was unveiled on the 20th January 2014, by His Excellency President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom following election to office in November 2013. Under the leadership of H.E President Yameen and Foreign Minister, H.E Ms Dunya Maumoon the Government of the Maldives formulated a Foreign Policy that was focused on 6 key pledges:

    1. Enhance the national security and absolute sovereignty of the Maldives through increased bilateral and multilateral engagement;
    2. Protect the Islamic identity of the Maldives and help to promote the core values of Islam internationally;
    3. Increase the economic resilience of the Maldives;
    4. Promote greater regional cooperation in South Asia;
    5. Provide quality consular services for Maldivians; and
    6. Promote efficiency and professionalism in the service.

    Enhancing the national security and absolute sovereignty of the Maldives through increased bilateral and multilateral engagement

    Enhancing national security and absolute sovereignty of the Maldives is the first objective of the Maldives foreign policy, an objective that can only be achieved by maintaining sound bilateral and multilateral relationships with major regional and global powers. And now more than ever, with the Maldives facing challenging circumstances at home and scrutiny from certain members of the international community- it is vital that accurate and reliable information is disseminated to international stakeholders. The Foreign Ministry and missions abroad have therefore developed a timely and effective way of ensuring that key partners are kept abreast of political developments in the country, thus avoiding the spread of misinformation by unreliable sources that only serves to perpetuate domestic tension.

    On a multilateral front the Maldives was re-elected, unopposed, to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2014-2016 term. As the smallest country ever to have been elected to the esteemed council, the Government continues to take great pride in the contribution it makes towards the promotion and protection of human rights.

    Protecting the Islamic identity of the Maldives and helping to promote the core values of Islam internationally

    As part of foreign policy goal of protecting the Islamic Identity, Maldives continues to work closely with Islamic countries and with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to further strengthen the relationships.

    At a meeting with the Secretary General of the OIC in March this year on the side-lines of the High Level Segment of the twenty-eighth session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Minster Dunya reaffirmed Maldives commitment to stand steadfastly with the OIC in all its endeavours. She also reiterated the Government’s unwavering support for the formation of an independent Palestinian State and in resolving the internal conflict in Syria. The Minister further raised concerns regarding the acts of terrorism taking place around the world in the name of Islam and Jihad, and reiterated the Government of Maldives condemnation of terrorism in all its forms.

    Increasing the economic resilience of the Maldives

    November 2014 was also a pivotal time for the Maldives, securing the Chairmanship of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) by consensus during a plenary meeting earlier in the month. The decision was announced at the Meeting of AOSIS Ministers being held in the Seychelles.

    The Maldives spearheaded the efforts to form AOSIS, following the first ever Small States Conference held in the Maldives in November 1989. In the past twenty-five years, the Maldives, through national, regional, and international efforts, has undertaken several initiatives and has been an agent of change on a wide variety of issues related to climate change and environmental degradation. The Maldives continues to further strengthen the character and status of AOSIS as the norm entrepreneur and bridge builder, in its position as Chair.

    Indeed, the Maldives chairmanship comes at a very crucial period of UN negotiations on climate change and sustainable development. Following the end of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to drive the implementation of sustainable development is due to be adopted this year. In addition, with the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a new climate agreement post 2020 will be negotiated this year at COP 21 in Paris where Maldives intends to be a very prominent voice.

    Promoting greater regional cooperation in South Asia

    The emphasis on regional cooperation in South Asia is also a fundamental part of the Government’s foreign policy. The Maldives believes that promoting greater regional cooperation in South Asia is the only viable means of promoting peace and stability in South Asia. As a founding member of SAARC and Chair of the organisation until November 2014, the Maldives has and will continue to work towards consolidating the gains made in regional cooperation, whilst embarking on new projects that would promote greater trust and mutual respect within the countries in the region.

    Providing quality consular services for Maldivians

    Providing quality consular services for Maldivians is another important goal of the government’s Foreign Policy, with the aim to conclude visa waiver agreements with countries most frequently visited by Maldivians. The United Kingdom remains a preferred destination for Maldivian students for both postgraduate and undergraduate study, however each year Maldivian students accepted to study in the UK faced some difficulties in obtaining visas. In the past, the delay experienced by many Maldivian students in obtaining their visas hindered their ability to take up their university offers.

    Following discussions with the British Government by the Maldives High Commission in London and with the support of The All-Party British-Maldives Parliamentary Group, the British High Commission in Sri Lanka have for the past two years provided a temporary enrolment location for student visas in Male'. This has proved a huge success and a welcome provision. The government will continue to work in pursuit of achieving a permanent solution so Maldivian students have access to renowned higher education institutions in UK.

    Foreign Policy Achievements in the UK

    Aside from the support extended by The All-Party British-Maldives Parliamentary Group in securing a solution for Maldivian students, the group has also worked with the High Commission in London to raise awareness of key issues relating to environmental problems, education, political and social issues in the Maldives. The High Commission meets with members of the group frequently to brief members on developments in Maldives, and discuss issues of importance to British-Maldives relations.

    In the United Kingdom the main objective of the High Commission is to promote the Maldives, not only as a tourist destination but also to create a greater awareness about the traditions and culture of the island nation. The event held at London’s Southbank in August of this year is a fantastic example of such promotion, showcasing traditional Maldivian music and dance.

    The event was a collaborative effort of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation and the High Commission in London. The highly entertaining items performed by popular ‘Harubee boduberu’ band and dancers of ‘Theatre Mirage’ captured the attention of thousands of visitors providing a rare insight into the rich culture of the Maldives. The performances on the Southbank were held as part of a number of events that took place in the UK and around the world commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of the Maldives.

    In September of this year the High Commission in London also held a diplomatic reception to mark the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of Independence. The reception, hosted by Foreign Minister, H.E Ms Dunya Maumoon was attended by the Diplomatic Corps in London, Senior UK Government officials, British parliamentarians, and members of the business community, media and Maldivians living in UK.

    The Rt Hon Baroness Warsi also attended the reception as Guest of Honour. Speaking at the event the Baroness explained that journeys to democracy take time and are sometimes difficult adding that even Britain has had it’s own very difficult history in establishing the mature democracy that it is today. Baroness Warsi concluded her remarks by conveying her best wishes to the Government and people of the Maldives on its democratic journey and expressed her hope that Maldives UK relations would remain ever strong.

    The World Travel Market, which took place last month, is also a regular feature in the annual calendar of both the Maldives High Commission in London and the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC). A leading event for the travel industry, it generates more than 2.5 billion tourism industry contracts and hosts more than 100 conference sessions with total delegate numbers of around 17,000.

    This year the Maldives delegation was headed by H.E. Mr Moosa Zameer, Minister of Tourism alongside representatives from MMPRC and the Maldives High Commission in London. The Maldives was showcased in a 276Sqm contemporary stand which celebrated the exclusivity of the country, reaffirming its position as a destination that epitomizes“…the sunny side of life”. The event also saw the launch of the Visit Maldives year 2016.

     

    General Debate of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

    Statement by: H.E. Ms Dunya Maumoon, Minister of Foreign Affairs

    New York, 3 October 2015

    Mr President, Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    The first three words of the UN Charter reads “We the People”. Those words make it clear, that human life is at the heart of the UN Charter. And it must remain the key principle guiding our work. This year, we mark the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Charter. Seventy years since the establishment of the United Nations. And there isn’t a more opportune time to ask ourselves: Have we served, “we the people” well?

    The answer to that question is, probably yes.

    I say that because:

    Succeeding generations have been saved from the scourge of inter-state war: yet we remain unable to counter intra-state conflict.

    Our faith in fundamental human rights is reaffirmed in principle; yet, the equal rights of men and women, and of nations, large and small, are ignored.

    The rule of law, and values of good governance, are advocated for some, but ignored for others.

    We promised to promote social progress and a better standard of life…and yes, extreme poverty has been reduced significantly, more children than ever are going to school, yet, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and ignorance, and intolerance are rampant.

    The Charter failed to recognise the environment as an issue of importance, and we fail the environment, every day.

    Despite all that, Excellencies, the United Nations is the best hope for humanity. And it must remain relevant.

    If we want the United Nations to become more resilient,

    If we want it to face the emerging challenges of our time,

    If we want it to give hope to the many who perish away in dire situations,

    …To inspire courage in the face of adversity,

    …To protect the rights of nations regardless of size,

    The UN must be reformed

    Last week we adopted a new Agenda for Sustainable Development. It recognises at its core that development must be holistic. That poverty is a multi-dimensional problem. That, what matters is the human being, whose rights must be protected, and promoted.  Yet here in the United Nations, we remain trapped in silos: hiding away, behind the excuse of mandates. Why is it that the Security Council must only discuss guns and bombs? Why can’t the Economic and Social Council discuss war and peace? Why can’t development, why can’t war, have a human rights dimension? Why must issues be confined to one specific body?

    We believe, that every problem can, and should be looked at, from every angle. It is the only way our responses to crises can be sustainable. In the real world, the real problems, and indeed the real solutions, do not fit neatly into separate compartments. A new way of approaching the global challenges of our time is necessary. So let us start organising our work differently.

    One important way of doing that is to redefine the concept of security: to include all issues that threaten all of humanity, including climate change. For us in the Maldives, climate change is a security threat. It damages our economy, deprives us of our rights, of our land, and our way of life. It is a threat to the very existence of our nation.

    Excellencies, when young children play by the beach, the waves lapping at their feet, when a fisherman looks to the sea for the day’s catch, and when we feel the cool breeze of the ocean caressing us, we cannot imagine that, those same waters will become our watery grave.

    Mr President, the Maldives is ready to act. We have always been the first in line. Together with other small island developing states, we have taken urgent action to keep the rise of global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius. We are reducing our emissions. We are working, in good faith, towards a legally binding agreement in Paris this year. And if we, the smallest can act, why can’t the biggest?

    Another such issue is oceans. Oceans are intimately linked with our lives and livelihoods. Oceans and their wealth are the drivers of our economy. They are the source of our food, and the backbone of our heritage and traditions. Without sustaining the wealth of oceans, we achieve nothing. This is why the Maldives banned turtle poaching in the early 80s. This is why the Maldives declared a biosphere reserve in 2012. This is why the entire Maldives is a shark sanctuary. We understand the value of our oceans and all the treasures it contains. Our oceans are home to some of the most valuable marine habitats in the world. Yet illicit exploitation of natural resources, maritime piracy and other criminal activities threaten and undermine the peace and security of our countries.

    Excellencies,

    Building the resilience of our people must remain at the centre of all our efforts: abroad and at home. That is why President Abdullah Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s government has embarked on a national development programme that is based on the “empowerment of people”: empowerment of youth, empowerment of children, and the empowerment of women. Investing in people, we believe, is the best way to promote human rights. It is the best way, to guarantee a brighter future for the generations to come. And it is the best way, to ensure that the democracy gains we have made are consolidated and further enhanced. The Maldives is a nation that is governed by the rule of law. Regardless of the position a person holds in society, even when it is most inconvenient to do so, we will continue with our strong commitment in upholding the rule of law.  I can assure you, we will not fail in that endeavour.

    Mr President,

    The United Nations rose from the ashes of war and destruction: where swarms of refugees crossed borders and seas: left everything behind, to seek safety and security, and to save their lives and the lives of their children. We have gone through those times and built a better, more integrated, more tolerant world. Fear of the other, did not overtake humanity. Today, we see similar pictures of girls and boys, women and men, seeking safety from war and certain death. I urge you, show compassion. A good start will be to call it by what it is: a “refugee” crisis, not a migrant crisis.

    These refugees are running away from senseless violence: barbarism that is carried out in the name of Islam. The Maldives condemns these acts of terrorism. The acts of these groups are not only un-Islamic, but also anti-Islamic. They are feeding into the rise of Islamaphobiaaround the world. The international community must not let these groups re-define our beautiful religion of peace, tolerance, and compassion.

    Mr President,

    We thought apartheid was dismantled; yet the world remains indifferent to the apartheid policies that Israel pursues in the occupied Palestine. Three days ago, we witnessed the raising of the Palestinian flag at the UN. This was indeed a historic step, but a much more significant step will be, for Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations. A permanent solution would be for the complete withdrawal of Israel, and the establishment of the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    Excellencies,

    The small island developing states of the world are different from the large states. We face different kinds of challenges that require very different responses. This is a fact that everyone now recognises. Yet, the international architecture, including the UN system, is not designed to accommodate the unique features of small states. This needs to change, and changes need to happen now! Yet, we, the small states, don’t want to be defined by only our vulnerabilities. We are ready to be part of the solution. In Samoa last year, the SIDS asked for building partnerships as the way forward.  Alone, we might be weak: but united, we can move mountains.

    The Maldives has always believed that we can do anything we set our mind to, if we remain sincere in our intention, and unwavering in our commitment. And the United Nations has never failed to inspire us to do so. That is why the Maldives joined the UN, less than two months after gaining independence. And just a few days ago, we celebrated fifty years of our membership. The UN has served us well. And we are committed to expand and further strengthen this valuable partnership.

    We may be short of finance, but we have no shortage of smart ideas.  Our President at that time, Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was the first to speak about the issue of sea-level rise at this podium. We were first to introduce the concept of “security of small states” to the UN, and the first to start advocating here at this Assembly, for the link between human rights and climate change. And we remain relentless in our pursuit of these issues, not only because it is good for the Maldives, but because it is also good for humanity.

    Mr President,

    Fifty years ago, when we applied for UN Membership, there were those that doubted our ability to survive, and questioned our capacity to contribute. After fifty years of being a UN member, I say to those sceptics:

    …We are not only willing, but also able!

    …We are not only viable, but also valuable!

    And as Maldivians, we are proud of what we have achieved.

    Thank you.

    © 2018 Embassy of the Republic of Maldives. All Rights Reserved.

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