The Maldives, together with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, the United States and Zambia were identified has making “a critical difference” during the period of the report, “working both collectively and in parallel to ensure that the Council’s mandate to address and prevent situations of violations was fulfilled more rigorously, recognising the Council’s inaction of the past”.
Negative influences identified on the Council included China, Cuba and Russia, the report noted, which “systematically voted to reject any action of the Council that they deemed too critical of a state, or that was not supported by the state in question. They argued that the Council should be a forum where states meet to discuss human rights issues cooperatively without what they considered to be interfering in the domestic affairs of others.”
In particular, the Maldives was praised for its energetic engagement with the council and its solid voting record.
“Despite having a small delegation, [the Maldives] commitment to human rights and democracy has motivated it to be a part of, or to take leadership on, a significant number of initiatives over the last year. The Maldives was among the first group of signatories calling for the special sessions on Côte d’Ivoire and Libya. The Maldives also cosponsored the resolutions on Iran, Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, and Kyrgyzstan,” the report said.
However it identified as “regrettable” the Maldives position on whether to launch an international investigation into war crimes in the final days of the Sri Lankan civil war, “particularly on the question of accountability.”
“The Maldives has been uncharacteristically reluctant to endorse the calls of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General’s panel for the creation of an independent international mechanism to investigate the final months of the conflict. Its close bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka, rather than the credible allegations coming from the ground, has prompted this position,” the report noted.
“The Maldives should revisit its approach on Sri Lanka in order to bring it in line with its otherwise principled approach to human rights at the Council.”
The report also noted that despite its strong record of positive engagement on many issues at the Council, “the Maldives supported the resolution on traditional values and voted with the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) against the resolution on human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”
Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem meanwhile said the Maldives was proud that the country was now “internationally-respected for its commitment to human rights and for its influence on the global stage”
“At the time, many people doubted the Government’s decision to put forward the Maldives’ candidature for the UN Human Rights Council, saying we are too small to make a difference. Human Rights Watch’s new report shows unequivocally that such doubts were misplaced. Not only has the Maldives played a central role at the Council, we have also helped make the Council far more effective as the pre-eminent global body responsible for protecting human rights,” Naseem said.
Read the full report (English)