The Maldives has been elected unopposed to the UN Human Rights Council for a second term, despite controversy over the legitimacy of the government.
“The Maldives believes that increasing the human rights resilience of the new and emerging democracies should be a priority for the Council and the entire UN system. The Maldives, being an emerging democracy itself, is ideally placed to contribute to the Council’s efforts in helping human rights promotion in such countries,” read a statement from the Maldivian Foreign Ministry.
President Mohamed Waheed announced that he was extending his term in office past the November 11, half an hour before it was due to expire. The international community has expressed concern and alarm that this has left the Maldives in a constitutional void, including the US, UK, Canada and the Commonwealth, which today placed the country on the agenda of its human rights and democracy arm.
The Foreign Ministry meanwhile said the Maldives had “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.”
The Maldives was elected unopposed with 164 votes, alongsi Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.
The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) stated yesterday that the country’s re-election to the council in the absence of having a democratically-elected government “is a mockery and sends an absolutely wrong message about the UN Human Rights Council. The credibility of the United Nations can only be restored through suspension of the membership of Maldives from the UN Human Rights Council like Libya in 2011.”
Former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, currently UN Special Rapporteur on Iran who was integral to the Maldives’ first election to the council in 2010 with 185 votes – the highest ever – noted the “vastly reduced majority from 2010.”
“There was also competition that year. This year, there was no competition: only four countries stood for the
four vacant seats. So there really was no choice for the General Assembly but to vote for Maldives,” Dr Shaheed told Minivan News.
“Given that fact that an MDP government is likely to be voted in next week, the Council Members will then have in Maldives a very pro-human rights partner, certainly in terms of the debates and votes in the Human Rights Council,” he noted.
“Finally, the Missions in Geneva and New York have been taking reasonably pro-human rights decisions, with the diplomats there using the void in the top in the Foreign Ministry to support pro-human rights decisions,” he said, congratulating the Maldives’ Ambassador to Geneva, Iruthisham Adam “for doing a remarkably good job in representing the flag, notwithstanding difficulties placed in her way by an autocratic
“But having said that, it is ironic that Maldives should now go back on the agenda of CMAG just as it got elected to the HRC,” he observed.