06 May 2015, Geneva, Switzerland; Speaking to the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, Minister of Foreign Affairs highlighted the extraordinary progress that the Maldives has made over the years on human rights promotion, socio-economic development, and democracy consolidation. The Maldives was reviewed today at the 22nd meeting of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Placing the progress of Maldives within the context of its democracy consolidation process, which began in earnest with the Reform Agenda of 2004, Minister Dunya outlined the significant paradigm shift it represented. In this regard, she pressed “the achievements that a country such as the Maldives has achieved, within only a span of ten years, is by any measure, remarkable”. Minister Dunya also reflected on the new challenges that the fast pace of change has brought on, that the society is not entirely accustomed to deal with. Minister Dunya expressed the commitment of the Government of President Yameen to continue constructively partnering with international agencies and foreign governments that are “serious in supporting us in making positive changes”.

Expressing appreciation for the “well meaning and well intended commentaries and valuable advise”, the Minister urged the international community to not only criticise, but invest in the Maldives, to help bring about meaningful change. She noted that sustainable and meaningful change can only be brought about if the change is “locally owned, locally driven, and locally shaped”. She urged the international community to allow democratic institutions to have the space and the independence to grow organically, develop their own traditions, and “make a better fit for our own society, and the demands of our own people”.

Speaking of the achievements that the Maldives has made over the four years since its initial review, the Minister noted that President Yameen’s human rights policy was premised on protecting the right of the individual but more importantly on enabling the individual to unleash the power of human creativity. In particular, she noted the importance of the civic education program in cultivating values, free education and universal health insurance scheme in ensuring access to education and health care to all, and the various achievements Maldives has made in providing adequate, affordable and safe housing for all, and in ensuring the rights of persons of with disabilities. Minister Dunya also noted the progress achieved in ensuring the rights of women in politics and decision making, highlighting that Maldivian women have always had the right to vote, equal access to education, employment, equal pay and paid maternity leave.

The Maldives delegation to the Universal Periodic Review was led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Her Excellency Ms. Dunya Maumoon along with Ms. Aishath Bisam, Legal Affairs Secretary at the President’s Office, Mr. Ismail Wisham, Assistant Attorney General and Ms. Geela Ali, Charge’ d’affaires of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Maldives in Geneva.