The United Nations is sending a delegation to the Maldives to conduct an electoral needs assessment ahead of the 2013 elections, and determine what UN assistance should be provided.
During the mission to the Maldives from December 3-5, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco “will meet with senior officials of the government and
political parties, as well as representatives of civil society, to discuss the current situation
and identify opportunities to support the country’s process of democratic consolidation,” the organisation said in a statement.
“A group of electoral experts from the Department of Political Affairs and UNDP will conduct an electoral needs assessment mission (NAM) for possible UN assistance to the country’s next elections expected for 2013,” the UN statement added.
The visit from the UN delegation follows accusations from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that the UN Resident Coordinator and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had remained “shamefully silent regarding the widespread human rights violations taking place.”
While “the IPU, CMAG, Canada, the Human Rights Committee, the EU and certain international NGOs such as Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights have expressed varying degrees of alarm at the Maldives’ backsliding on democracy and human rights, others including the UN Resident Coordinator and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have remained shamefully silent,” said the party’s spokesperson, MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, said in a recent statement.
“Since February’s overthrow of the Maldives’ democratically-elected government, key parts of the international community have remained silent regarding the widespread human rights violations taking place. To remain silent in the face of injustice is to be an accomplice to that injustice,” he added.
The UN released a subsequent statement defending its activity in the Maldives and reiterating its “strict impartiality toward political parties”.
In the statement, the UN said it “continues to be concerned that the current situation in the country may have an impact on the country’s development”, and noted examples of the international organisation’s activities in the Maldives.
“As a trusted partner, the UN has spoken repeatedly in public and in private over the course of several years and three governments on democracy, development, and human rights. Most recently, the Secretary-General spoke of the need for political dialogue, national reconciliation, and respect for the constitution. He called on all parties to exercise maximum cooperation and restraint,” the UN stated.