Statement by His Excellency Abdulla Shahid Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives at the High Level Segment of the 43rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Madam President,

Madam High Commissioner,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Assalam Alaikum, and a very good afternoon to you all.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we owe a debt of gratitude to many. To all those who tirelessly worked to uphold the UN Charter; and to the many who continue to uphold the values enshrined in it.

Their noble work has rewarded us, through cooperation and dialogue to embrace a culture of respect and reverence to basic rights and fundamental freedoms.

My country, the Maldives stands as an example. Our re-engagement with the international community to promote and protect human rights, has allowed us to leave behind a painful legacy of authoritarianism and a culture of impunity.

Madam President,

Last year, I shared with this Council, the transformative changes that had been brought about with the election of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in 2018.

I spoke of our vision to reinforce our commitments to human rights, and to never go backwards.

Today, I am here to tell you that we have achieved important milestones in our journey.

I thank our international partners and OHCHR for their support in this journey.

President Solih assumed office in 2018, pledging to prioritise human dignity and the sanctity of human life, to carry out substantial institutional reforms and to pursue good governance in the best interest of our people.

Our re-engagement with our partners globally has been driven by a genuine desire to be a responsible and a respected member of the international community.

In February this year, the Maldives re-joined the Commonwealth of Nations after an absence of four years.

We are extremely grateful for the support we received from member states. It is an honour to be part of an organization that promotes the values we wish to uphold.

Madam President,

In September last year, the Maldives ratified the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and signed the Declaration under Article 22 of the Convention Against Torture.

The Maldives has already submitted its notification to withdraw the reservations to Part 1 (b)(e)(g)(h) and also to Part 2 of Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Further, I am pleased to inform that the Maldives will be ratifying the Convention on Enforced Disappearances in the coming months. The Maldives hosted two special procedures mandate holders since then. We look forward to welcome the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression next week.

I once again reiterate the Standing Invitation to all special procedures mandate holders.

The Third Cycle of the Maldives UPR will be held in May this year.

We intend to accept recommendations, and to engage constructively to further strengthen our national human rights framework. I am also pleased to share with the Council, that for the first time since 2002, there are no longer any cases of Maldivian Parliamentarians before the Committee on Human Rights of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

This significant development denotes the progress we have achieved in the promotion and protection the human rights of Parliamentarians in the country.

On the domestic front, several of our legal instruments have been amended and signed into Law last year in accordance to international obligations.

The Child Rights Protection Act now conforms to the CRC. The Juvenile Justice Act raised the age of criminal responsibility to 15 years.

Through recent legislative amendments, we have empowered the Local Councils and allocated a third of all local council seats to female councillors.

We have ensured the independence of lawyers.

We have carried out a comprehensive audit of all the prisons in the country, and we are committed to meet international standards, including the Mandela Rules.

Madam President,

The Maldives remains deeply concerned by the plight of the Palestinian people, especially women and children in the occupied territories. We remain steadfast in our support for their inalienable right to self-determination.

The Maldives calls on the international community to collectively and decisively work towards a lasting and meaningful solution to the Palestinian question.

The Maldives welcomes the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice on the Rohingya people.

Statement by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid at the High Level Segment of the 43rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

The Maldives intends to support the ongoing efforts to secure accountability for the perpetrators of genocide against the Rohingya people, in line with the decision taken by the OIC during the Summit held in Makkah last year.

The Maldives Cabinet has now decided that there are strong grounds for intervening in support of the Rohingya people in the case before the ICJ. We will be filing a written declaration at the appropriate time.

As a member of the OIC, let me also thank The Gambia for taking the initiative on this issue.

Madam President,

12 years ago Maldives initiated discussions on the ‘human dimension of climate change’ at the 7th Session of the Council. On the 12th of this month, the Maldives Parliament adopted a motion declaring a climate emergency.

Today we are pleased to welcome the UN Secretary General's Call to Action for Human Rights, which recognises the undeniable link between Human Rights and Climate Change.

Madam President,

Before I conclude, let me take a moment to sincerely thank High Commissioner Bachelet, and her office, for the support extended to the Maldives in implementing our human rights agenda.

The Maldives will continue to promote and protect human rights of all. We are committed to work constructively with the international community to further advance and build upon the accomplishments we have achieved so far.

Thank you, Madam President.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fathulla Jameel Building, Malé, 20077, Republic of Maldives, | Tel Number: 00960 332-3400  |  Emergency Contact: 00960 798-3400