Statement by His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives at the UN ECOSOC Special Meeting on “Reimagining Equality: Eliminating racism, xenophobia and discrimination for all in the decade of action for the SDGs”

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Greetings from the Maldives.

Seventy-five years ago, the United Nations was formed for the advancement of international peace and security; underscoring the principles of sovereign equality; advocating non-discrimination; and promoting respect for human rights “for all without distinction.”

It is in this spirit of multilateralism the Maldives firmly believes that the United Nations is the ideal forum to reach global solutions to global problems. However, the current reality reveals the depth of inequalities in our systems. The world is witnessing a surge in racist ideologies and nationalism. The pandemic has exposed the disparities and inherent vulnerabilities in all our societies. These include the elderly who struggled alone at home and hospitals; the dispersed communities with no access to adequate healthcare; the women who lost their sources of income; the youth without hope for employment and the children who struggle to get an education without access to internet. Therefore, as we begin the “Decade of Action,” it is time to redirect our course to bring meaningful changes to our systems and mindsets.


Such inequalities run through the Maldivian society as well. However, we are proud of the strategic measures we have implemented. We have approved a 33% quota to women in the local councils. The Employment Act has been amended to improve the welfare of the migrant workforce. Benefits are being provided to those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and we have also strengthened our education system.


A significant challenge for the marginalized is the unequal distribution of wealth, not just among countries, but within them. It is therefore, not enough to protect against racist, xenophobic or discriminatory actions. Governments need to strengthen measures to eliminate structural discrimination. We need to identify gaps and challenges, as well as opportunities. We need to include vulnerable groups in every stage of development to integrate them into society.


The Maldives stands firmly against xenophobia, racism, islamophobia, violent extremism and all forms of discrimination. Such bias and injustice will not end until we stop believing that anyone who looks or acts different is a threat to our community and our prosperity. Global solidarity is the key to reach our goals for 2030. It is simply not enough to hold hands and say we will “leave no one behind” anymore, but we must reach out and bring the furthest behind to the front and pave a path for them to keep pace with the rest of the world.

I thank you.

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