Maldives gets highest number of votes for Human Rights Council

The Maldives has been officially awarded a seat in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, receiving historic support from the UN General Assembly members.

The votes, which were cast on 13 May at the UN Headquarters in New York, revealed the Maldives came in at the top of the Asian group running for the Council.

The seat was also highly endorsed by a group of international NGOs, with UN Watch and Freedom House reporting that out of fourteen candidate countries from all regions, only five, including the Maldives, have human rights records that merit a seat in the Council.

The report said only the Maldives, Guatemala, Spain, Switzerland and Poland have a worthy human rights record, while the remaining nine countries have either “questionable” or “unqualified” records.

The seat had already been secured after Iran withdrew its candidature last month, leaving four countries–Malaysia, Thailand, Qatar and the Maldives–running for four seats.

But the unprecedented support from Member States show the “enormous respect for the Maldives, its government, its people, its national human rights institution, and the work that we have all been doing to strengthen the respect for human rights,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Ahmed Shaheed.

He said “we topped the whole list. It was the highest number of votes ever on the Council.”

Dr Shaheed told Minivan News last month he believed the Maldives would be number one in the rankings.

Speaking in New York, Dr Shaheed said “this is a proud day for the Maldives,” adding that “five years ago we were a human rights pariah, today our bid to secure a Council seat has won almost universal support from UN Member States.”

Dr Shaheed added he was “delighted” the seat was won on merit; “today the world’s governments and human rights NGOs have joined together to recognise and endorse the enormous strides that the Maldives has taken in the realm of human rights.”

Press Secretary for the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuhair, said President Mohamed Nasheed was “very happy” about the seat in the Council, “especially because Maldives was elected with a very high award.”

He said he believes the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) “should become strengthened on this kind of endorsement.”

Zuhair added “human rights issues in the Maldives will be more highlighted” and said the votes show “international recognition of the Maldivian government in human rights issues.”

Speaking to Minivan News last month, President of the HRCM, Ahmed Saleem, said winning the seat was “a very good opportunity for the government to realise [they have] to make necessary changes.”

He added membership in the Council should improve human rights in the country “because the government also will have to act very positively now, there has to be room for improvement in the way the government reacts to human rights issues.”

Saleem noted he was “very delighted” the Maldives won a seat in the Council, as it “reflects well on us, as well.”

Human Rights Council

Seats for the Human Rights Council are voted upon by all forty-seven Member States of the Council, and seats are awarded with over 51% of votes, cast on secret ballots, by the General Assembly.

The Maldives secured 185 votes out of 192 Member States, making it the highest number of votes for a state in any region. Coming in second was Thailand, with 182 votes.

The Council, working out of the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva, is responsible for promoting human rights, addressing violations of human rights and promoting the effective coordination within the UN system.

This is the first time the Maldives has won a seat in a major UN body. The country will serve a three-year term. Countries are not eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms.


9 thoughts on “Maldives gets highest number of votes for Human Rights Council”

  1. It is worth noting that there was a huge campaign by US to get Maldives elected. This was because US wanted to prevent the 6th cobtestant from Asia to fail or withdraw their bid - IRAN!

  2. "... out of fourteen candidate countries from all regions, only five, including the Maldives, have human rights records that merit a seat in the Council."
    so the previous Government also deserves credit no? yes?

  3. "Human rights organisation Forum 18 reports that not only has Nasheed not changed anything from what existed under his predecessor, but has in fact increased the powers of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, now under Sheikh Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari, head of the Islamic Scholars Council of the Adhaalath Party, one of the two Islamic parties that backed Nasheed in the 2008 presidential election.

    Forum18, many Maldivians have begun using anonymous weblogs to voice their concern over the situation. Many are afraid that the president might have simply handed religion over to Sheikh Bari in exchange for his party support to the coalition government."

    Dr Shaheed, can we get 2 seats? One for you and one for Mr Sheikh Bari?

  4. UN it a big international Muppet Show.when America was bombing Iraq,Kosovo,Bosnia or in Africa,Bangladesh,North Korea thousands and thousands children's die from poverty where is UN?no where because human life is nothing for them only money and ground oil rig and platforms heheeh it just a screen for underground secret operation of world Secret society.But because Maldives it is the best place to clean dark money to "normal" condition true the resorts, tourism money operation system and fake bank, Human rights will support Maldives very well heheheh
    no rights,no UN,and no care about ordinary peoples because in present world only money and oil and territory it is the question.where UN and local Maldivian human rights commission?how many rehab center,tb clinic,health center they was build in every atoll during last year?it is not a big project to save a big country!here only 300.000 peoples.
    where is strong health control system.or maybe many new hospitals?,and other social services?
    nothing! but only blablabla about UN,Human right and democracy. electrical , water bill every month more and more high than before!it is all dirty game under name of democracy.

  5. Changing a dictatorship into a democracy should earn us the highest number of votes! Thanks to M. Nasheed for his efforts to secure Human Rights in the Maldives.

    However, this is just the beginning - hoping that our government will work on it and finally accept the complete declaration of human rights!

    Go Anni go! You can do it!

  6. The vote brings us shame as we now know how you get your votes - by turning our country into a bloody prison for inmates from Guantanamo Bay jail. By holding them captive and violating their privacy and human rights as dictated by Big Brother. Shame, shame. I never thought that Presdent Nasheed would be reduced to a partner in crime with those running Guantanamo Bay prison.

  7. If Maldives truly wants to embrace human rights, worker rights and labour unions would be in place. Domestic human rights violations needs to be straightened out - after all charity begins at home. How can anyone put Maldives in the same category as Guatemala, Spain, Switzerland and Poland when there are no unions and worker rights in Maldives...

    The membership in the HR council could turn itself to be a poisoned chalice while the domestic Human Rights are not well established... What is some one takes up case against Maldives now... ?

  8. This comes up as no surprise. International politics works in funny and obscure ways. But definitely it hints out of American lobby for getting Maldives elected. Remember it was the little "Doc" who stated on public media, "that Maldives should not do or agree to anything out of which it does not get any returns". This is the promise and pledge in return for agreeing to "extradite gitmo inmates" to the Maldives.

  9. Marina, is this a democracy? just because 15 men can go and rape 1 woman makes it a democracy? I have no problem in you calling out as loud as you can "Go Anni Go... he can go anywhere he wants.


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