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.


    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.


    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.

    Informal Meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers
    Statement by:
    H.E. Ms Dunya Maumoon, Minister of Foreign Affairs
    New York, 30 September 2015


     Honourable Foreign Ministers, 

     Secretary-General of SAARC,  

     Assalaamu Alaikum and Good Afternoon, 

     One year has passed since we met last in November 2014, during the 18th SAARC Summit. The past year has brought much anguish and distress to the region as a whole. Some have been affected more than others. But as neighbours and friendly countries, we have stood together.  

     Let me convey my appreciation to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, for organizing this informal session of the Council of Ministers. It is timely and necessary to meet and share our thoughts on issues of importance to our organisation.  I also wish to thank the Secretary General for his comprehensive report and commend him for his dedicated efforts to assist our work. 

     I would like to convey deep condolences of my government and the people of Maldives to the government and people of Nepal on the devastating earthquake that caused loss of many lives and immense destruction to the country. As one of the most densely populated regions, we in south Asia, remain vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters.  


     The relevance of SAARC has grown far greater than ever. The decisions that we make touch the lives of millions who struggle for a better life and greater opportunity. Despite many setbacks, we have moved ahead. Yet, we are far from the aspirations we have set out for ourselves. We need to move ahead with far greater speed and will. We need to be more focused and efficient in realizing our goals and aspirations.  

     The Maldives fully supports the reform of SAARC processes and mechanisms that we have embarked upon. The closure and merger of identified Regional Centers will be complete end of this year. It is our hope that the host of the new SAARC Environment and Disaster Management Centre will be decided soon, and the smooth transfer of the work of those centerswill come together to the new Center.  


     Early this month, the Maldives hosted the Eighth Board meeting of the SAARC Food Bank. The meeting reiterated the importance of regional food security and collective effort to address challenges that we face today. Issues discussed included eliminating the threshold limit to draw food grains and facilitate easy access to food during emergencies. It is my wish that the decisions taken at the meeting are implemented in a timely manner.  

     Time and again, we have discussed trade liberalization within the SAARC region to fully realize the true potential of trade within the region and its benefits. Although the Special meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts in July this year further discussed on making headway in reducing sensitive lists, we still stand far from achieving real progress in this area.  


     The issue of climate change has become a pivotal one for the region as a whole. The impacts may be felt differently, but surely affects us all. The shared challenges and trans-boundary nature of climate change cannot be ignored. It is important that the climate change negotiations produce a legally binding agreement in Paris this December. We must stay focussed to coordinate our efforts towards this objective. 


     Let me express deep appreciation to our Leaders for their guidance in protecting and promoting welfare of our people. I am confident that through SAARC mechanisms and its coordinated efforts, the region and our people can achieve a more secure and prosperous future.

    I also wish to assure full support and cooperation of the Government of Maldives to the Government of Pakistan in hosting a successful Summit next year.

     Thank you.

    24 August 2015

    Bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm

    State Ministers,

    The United Nations Resident Coordinator,

    Members of the UNDAF Steering Committee, and Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Assalaam Alaikum and a very good morning.

    Last month we celebrated the golden jubilee of the Maldives national independence. Next month, we will be marking the golden jubilee of Maldives membership in the United Nations.

    Over the last fifty years, the UN has been the stalwart development partner of the Maldives. After the country gained independence, the Government sought external assistance from various sources. And it was the United Nations System that showed maximum commitment to work with the Maldives. And the results speak for itself: in 1977, the life expectancy of a Maldivian was just 47 years, this  has now risen to 77 years; in 1977 infant mortality was at 120.7, this  has now been reduced to just 6 per 1,000 live births. Maternal mortality rate in 1977 stood at 680, this has now been reduced to 34. In 1977, there were just three government schools, all of which were in Malé; now there are more than 200 government schools all over the country teaching skills that will help to transform children to productive and responsible adults. These rapid developments in the social sectors have helped to propel economic growth, making Maldivians prosperous: in 1977, the GDP per capita in the Maldives was 160 dollars; now the GDP per capita of Maldives is more than 7,500 dollars. In our journey of success, the United Nations was an able, and indeed enthusiastic and reliable partner.

    The UNDAF document that we just signed takes that partnership further. It places these accomplishments in the proper development context. The four outcome areas identified for the next cycle, Gender, Governance, Youth and Children, and Environment and Climate Change, were identified based on the priorities set out in the election manifesto of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s Government.

    The four outcome areas demonstrate the Government’s commitment, in partnership with the UN, to gender equality and the empowerment of women; to strengthen democratic institutions and to cultivate a culture of respect in the society; to teach our children better skills and to inspire our youth to become successful adults; and to fight against environmental degradation and climate change. The UNDAF document provides a framework that will help the Government and the UN agencies to work together in these areas and consolidate the gains we have made in these areas.

    A key aspect of President Yameen’s development policy is in investing in youth. The Government has prioritised skills development and job creation for the youth. Over the last twenty months, more than seven thousand jobs have been created, and several skills development programmes have been launched. We believe that through these instruments, and through empowering our youth, we would be able address and reduce the  problems of drug abuse and gang-violence.

    Equal emphasis has been placed on gender equality . The Domestic Violence Prevention Act, the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse Act, and Sexual Offences Act have strengthened the legal framework to protect women, and children, from violence and sexual abuse. The Gender Equality Bill, which is currently in its final stages, once passed, will cement our national standards on gender equality, and confirm that our policies and legal framework are consistent with the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

    President Yameen’s development policy is informed by human rights principles that are explicit and implicit in the Maldives Constitution. The President’s economic agenda is one that not only protects the rights of the individual, but also, and most importantly, enables the individual to unleash the power of human creativity and, in turn, increase the welfare of the individual and the society. The policy is guided by the belief, that although legal instruments provide the basic framework, human rights are not just about international instruments or pieces of law. Human rights is also about belief; belief that needs to be carefully cultivated and nurtured; belief that needs space and time to grow organically, and become valued and cherished traditions in the societies concerned.

    The four outcome areas and the outputs in each of these areas will complement the Post-2015 Development Agenda and SDGs that will be adopted next month by the world leaders. The implementation of outputs set out in the respective country programme documents of each of the UN Agencies will be aligned with the SDG national matrices as and when we develop the matrices. I am confident we would be able to achieve that level of coordination in the implementation of both UNDAF outcomes and the SDGs.

    I would like to thank the UNDAF Steering Committee for its strategic direction in formulating the UNDAF document. And I would, in particular, like to thank Ms Shoko Noda, the UN Resident Coordinator in the Maldives, for her leadership in this process. The UN Country Team, participants of the thematic groups, and civil society organisations who contributed to the process deserve a big thank you. I wish you every success. And I look forward working closely with you all in the implementation of the UNDAF.

    Thank you.

    15 August 2015

    Today as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II, let us all take a moment and remember the courage and the sacrifices of all those brave men and women who fought to end the war and enabled the world to forge the peace.

    As we commemorate this day, we should also remember the sacrifices made by our forefathers. The Maldives, though a small nation, isolated from the rest of the countries in the Indian Ocean also faced severe consequences of the World War II. The limitation in trade links caused shortages in basic food supplies that created widespread starvation in the islands. Yet, Maldivians contributed financially to the Allies war efforts including hosting a staging post for the armed forces.

    As we commemorate the end of the World War II, we have to renew our determination not to let another human induced catastrophe to strike the world. Such a danger could be imminent unless we take urgent and bold measures to stop climate change and promote the value of mutual respect and tolerance. 

    Early today, Friday 10 July 2015, the Government of Maldives submitted its response to the Regular Procedure Communication filed on 12 May 2015 by former President Mohamed Nasheed with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. 

    The offence committed by former President Nasheed, namely using the army to illegally abduct a serving judge, is of utmost severity in Maldives and the rule of law must apply to any person who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence, irrespective of their political status or affiliation. 

    On the night of 16 January 2012, during Mohamed Nasheed’s tenure as President, Judge Abdulla was abducted by the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) and his whereabouts were unknown for 72 hours. Subsequently, he was detained for over 21 days in a military training camp without access to his family or lawyers.

    Mr Nasheed made various public statements fully admitting that the arrest was in response to his wishes and fully demonstrating that he has no remorse for his conduct, and that he would do it again.

    It is also important to recall that the unlawful actions of former President Nasheed began before the arrest of Judge Abdulla, with the padlocking of the Supreme Court, and the imposition of a new bench of judges without parliamentary approval, thus failing to respect democratic institutions and the principle of the Separation of Powers. 

    The Government reiterates that the sentencing of former President Nasheed is not politically motivated, that the Constitution of Maldives guarantees the full independence of the Judiciary from the Executive and that the Government can neither interfere nor influence any decision of the Prosecutor General in bringing criminal charges or the Judiciary which is charged with upholding the rule of law. In fact, it is important to note that the Prosecutor General, who had been nominated by former President Nasheed when he was in office, first filed the charges on 15 July 2012. 

    Like any other citizen of the Maldives, former President Nasheed has been entitled to a transparent trial by an independent and impartial tribunal in accordance with the relevant national laws in force. Throughout the legal proceedings against former President Nasheed, his constitutional right to effective legal representation has been guaranteed and when his legal representatives boycotted the proceedings, the former President was repeatedly reminded of his right to alternative legal representation and that the court did not accept the withdrawal. 

    The Republic of Maldives has a three-tier court system and the right to appeal is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 56 of the Constitution. The Government also indicated that the appeal process would have been open to the full scrutiny of the international community.  

    However, Mr Nasheed failed to file an appeal and instead submitted a Regular Procedure Communication against the Government of Maldives on 12 May 2015 with the UN Working on Arbitrary Detention. 

    The petition submitted by Mr Nasheed seeks to divert attention from the offence committed by him during his tenure as President of Maldives, namely using the army to abduct a serving judge. 

    Today, the Government of Maldives has responded comprehensively to each of the allegations raised. It remains the position of the Government that the allegations made by Mr Nasheed are either factually incorrect, or a mischaracterisation of the reality of the position.

    The Government reiterates that Mr Nasheed has not been the victim of a politicised process. He has been properly charged and faced a trial for an extremely serious offence and one that was aimed at interfering with an independent judiciary and circumventing the rule of law.

    The law cannot be applied selectively. A democracy functions by the application of the rule of law and not its circumvention. Justice must be allowed to take its course without any hindrance or interference.

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