• Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs at the 34th Session of UN Human Rights Council

    Statement byHis Excellency Dr. Mohamed Asim,Minister of Goreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives at the High Level Segment of the 34th Session of the United nations human rights council

    Geneva, 27 February 2017 - Ref: 2017-080:

    Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates and members of the Civil Society,

    Ah-salaam Alaikum, and good a very good afternoon,

    It is an honour for me to address a High-Level Segment of the Human Rights Council, for the first time.

    For the Maldives, this Council holds a special place. The Council accepted the Maldives request to constitute a study to examine the relationship between climate change and the full enjoyment of fundamental human rights. The Council also accepted the Maldives initiative to establish a special procedure on human rights and the environment. The Maldives also helped to establish three other mandate holders on key human rights issues. The Maldives has also had the privilege of serving as the Vice Chair of the Council.

    Mr President,

    Being a small state does not prevent the Maldives from promoting the values and principles that underpin the international human rights mechanisms. The approach that the Maldives has taken in protecting human rights is through the empowerment of its people: creating opportunities; helping the people to help themselves lead dignified lives. It was this belief that helped to propel the Maldives to reach to a new paradigm of development -- human development -- that places the rights of the individual at the center of development. In 1971, the Maldives was one of the 20 poorest nations of the world. Today, the Maldives is a middle-income country with a per capita income over 8,000 US dollars.


    President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom continues to, and places great emphasis on human rights protection and promotion through human development. Providing free medical care to the entire population, providing free education to ensure that no child is left behind, and caring for the elderly and the vulnerable are some of our highly successful achievements. The existing national health welfare system “Aasandha” provides free health care to all Maldivians, which includes seeking medical treatment overseas.

    The Government provides assistive devices for the physically impaired; residential care for both senior citizens and persons with disabilities for those in need; and a special allowance to vulnerable groups including the elderly, single mothers and persons with disabilities.

    The Maldives is proud to say that we provide fourteen years of free education for every child in the country. We have achieved universal primary education and gender parity in educational attainment in primary and lower secondary education, with 59 per cent of high achievers being girls.

    Maldivian women have enjoyed the right to vote since the early 1930s, and our women enjoy equal pay for equal work. The Gender Equality Act which came into force last week, promotes gender equality in all aspects of life by ensuring equal opportunities and equal conditions to pursue these opportunities.

    Our policies in youth engagement and empowerment through skills development and job creation have led to declined crime rates among the youth. 

    Mr President,

    The Maldives benefited a great deal from its membership of this Council. Our membership of the Council, and our close partnership with the UN human rights mechanism helped to consolidate democracy in the Maldives. Our democratic transition and strengthening of human rights have benefitted from the engagement we have had with the international community, in particular, the United Nations system.

    A recent example is the launching of the first National Human Rights Action Framework in the Maldives last December. We are currently working towards a comprehensive action plan which will include 14 priority outcome areas for the Maldives that also align with the sustainable development goals. We acknowledge and appreciate the close guidance and support extended to the national counterparts by various UN agencies for this national agenda. We will continue to work closely with the UN in implementing the National Human Rights Action Framework.  

    Mr President,

    We need to cultivate and promote a culture of respect and a culture of tolerance more than ever before. It is through promoting such a culture of respect that we can promote a two-state solution in Palestine, which is now illegally occupied by Israel. We call upon Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian and Arab lands that it had occupied illegally since 1967 and to strictly adhere to the Resolutions of the UN Security Council as demanded by international law.

    The Maldives calls upon all the parties involved in the conflict in Syria, including the Syrian Government, to end the violence and to respect the fundamental human rights of the people affected by the war. We call upon countries that receive refugees fleeing the war zones in various parts of the world, to show compassion, instead of showing the exit door. We call upon countries where Islamophobia and other intolerances are on the rise, to promote respect for diversity.

    Mr President,

    The Council is uniquely placed to work with emerging democracies, such as the Maldives, to create opportunities for sharing of experiences and best practices. The Maldives believes that it can contribute in raising the voice and the profile of the Council and in the process, increase the credibility of the Council and the entire human rights protection mechanism of the UN system.

    It is for that reason that the Maldives has put forward its candidacy to the Human Rights Council for the term 2018- 2020. We believe that we can contribute to make this council universal in its outreach, to give hope to the vanquished in every corner of the globe; and to give them their rightful chance to shape their future.

    Thank you

  • The Maldives’ at the UN Human Rights Council


    The Maldives was re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council for a second term for a period 2014-2016.
    In 2010, Maldives was the smallest member to get elected to the Council. The Maldives stood for the voiceless in the international society; for the issues that affect the very fundamental values of human rights yet, hardly get a mention in global human rights debate; and it stood for helping the vulnerable and emerging democracies to cultivate the values of human rights in their societies.
    Since then, the Maldives is proud to have given a voice to the smallest members of the international community. It has also been a leading voice of advocacy for human rights and fundamental freedoms, spearheading important initiatives in the Council. It has succeeded in drawing global attention to the effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights. It has been one of the strongest advocates at the Council for promoting the rule of law and creating the values of human rights.
    Membership of the Human Rights Council: a catalyst for national action

    In 2004, the Maldives took a decision to integrate human rights promotion fully into the country’s foreign policy. That decision propelled the Maldives from the fringes to the core of international human rights discourse, and assumed leadership role on key issues, such as the impact of climate change on human rights. One important outcome of that decision was, and continues to be, that the country’s active role in promoting international human rights has catalytic effect on national actions on some of the sensitive human rights issues.
    Key Initiatives at National Level
    Since the Maldives began to play a more active role in international human rights issues, particularly, since the country’s membership of the Council in 2010, the country has made remarkable progress in its efforts at promoting and protecting human rights nationally. These measures have helped to strengthen the human rights framework in the country and to introduce a rights-based discourse into political and social debates. Some of the key achievements inter alia are:
    • Joined the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2009, and International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 2011. In January 2013, the Maldives ratified all core conventions of the ILO. It was a major policy decision by the Government, considering that the issue was under consideration for nearly two decades;
    • In 2010, the Maldivian parliament passed the Disabilities Act, which gave persons with disabilities, legal rights to adequate and standardised social and health services;
    • in 2011, the Maldives ratified the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court (ICC);
    • In 2012, Maldives ratified a comprehensive piece of legislation on addressing violence against women, the Domestic Violence Act, which protects and aims to prevent violence and discrimination against women. The Maldives election to the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in 2012 has further boosted its advocacy for gender equality and women’s rights domestically;
    • In February 2013, Maldives acceded to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime; and
    • In April 2013, an inter-ministerial committee was established by the President to conduct a review and propose a holistic reform of the existing child protection mechanisms in the Maldives.

    When the Maldives was elected to the Human Rights Council in 2010, it was the smallest country to occupy that seat. The Maldives stood for the voiceless, the marginalised, and the smallest countries that were on the periphery. Today, the Maldives takes pride that it has created a voice of the small island developing states (SIDS) within the Council. Moreover, the Maldives has, over the last three years, advocated for global efforts at increasing the resilience of SIDS, as well as emerging democracies, in bringing their national human rights mechanisms to international standards. Some important initiatives led and/or supported by the Maldives in this regard include:
    • The initiative to establish a Voluntary Fund at the Council aimed at supporting the participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the work of the Council;
    • Chair of an informal group known as Friends of SIDS in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), to support the SIDS countries that do not have missions in Geneva to continue with their UPR presentation;
    • The initiative at the Council that led to the establishment of an Independent Expert on human rights and environment;
    • With other like-minded countries, established the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and association;
    • led the negotiations in the introduction of the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure;
    • strongly supported the core-group of countries that called for the creation of the ‘Working Group on the Discrimination of Women in Law and in Practice’; and
    • Continued to support the cooperative and state-driven nature of the Universal Period Report and its universality. The Maldives believes that this unique process is one of the most effective ways in promoting human rights for all.
    At the national level, the Maldives would:
    • continue to welcome visits to the Maldives by UN special rapporteurs and independent experts;
    • improve the functioning and effectiveness of its independent national institutions;
    • convene a Justice Roundtable to discuss strengthening of judiciary in view of the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers;
    • upgrade the status of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives to ensure its full compliance to Paris Principles;
    • secure and fully deliver the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);
    • enact enabling legislations for international human rights instruments so that they are observed and integrated into all aspects of the Maldivian society; and
    • follow up on the recommendation of the Universal Periodic Review as well as the concluding observations of treaty bodies.