“We do not want to be in Paris to get perished,” Maldives ambassador tells climate change convention

The Maldives has urged the world to take reach a strong and legally binding climate change agreement at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Speaking at the plenary meeting of the 20th Conference of the Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima Ambassador Ahmed Sareer emphasised on the need for a negotiated text in order to arrive at a strong agreement in Paris in 2015.

“We do not want to be in Paris to get perished,” said Sareer.

The Maldives mission to the United Nations reports that Sareer told the meeting that the Maldives, as a small, low-lying island state, is among the most vulnerable and least defensible countries to the projected impacts of climate change.

Touching on the ongoing water crisis in Malé, Sareer said that the situation “is a stark example of the vulnerability of small island developing states like the Maldives that has no natural fresh water sources”.

A fire in the capital’s only desalination plant left 130,000 people without running water last week, requiring international relief efforts to deal with the crisis.

Unusual in the crowded capital, water shortages have become commonplace in the country’s outer atolls – a combination of periods of drought and groundwater contaminated by the 2004 tsunami.

Noting the recent pledges to the Green Climate Fund – intended to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 – Sareer said: “as a small island developing state that is constantly facing an existential threat, the current pledges are simply not enough”.

The Maldives has recently become chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), while former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom calling on larger nations to allow vulnerable states to take a lead in climate change policy.

Ambassador Sareer said that the Maldives’ share of global emission is negligible, and that the government of Maldives was striving to make the country resilient.

Former President Nasheed – who gained international acclaim for his efforts at the 2009 climate change conference – recently told the International Bar Association (IBA) that he feared Maldivians could become the world’s first climate change refugees.

“When I was elected president, I caused some controversy by saying we would someday have to leave our islands. I was hopeful then that we would be able to change the way our story ends. But I fear it is too late now for the Maldives,” he told the IBA’s showcase session on climate change and human rights.

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference – or COP21 – will be held in Paris between November 30 and December 11 next year.

The COP21 organising committee has said that: “By the end of the meeting, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, all the nations of the world, including the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, will be bound by a universal agreement on climate.”

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Maldives’ peacekeeping troops to be deployed over next two years

The Maldives has signed an MOU with the UN, agreeing to actively contribute to peacekeeping operations as observers and infantry.

The agreement, signed in New York by the Maldives ambassador to the UN Ahmed Sareer last week, is the first of its kind to be signed by the country.

“This agreement marks a new era in relations between the Maldives and the UN,” said Sareer upon signing the agreement with UN Under Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous.

“With the maturation of the Maldivian State, we look forward to taking up the mantle of leadership in all of our international endeavors. No matter how small the nation, all have an obligation to maintaining and sustaining the security of populations across the globe.”

A small contingent of military observers and infantry personnel will be deployed over the next two years, explained a press release from the Foreign Ministry.

An Maldives National Defence Force statement added that the participation of the Maldives’ troops would decided upon by the government.

Under Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous commented that the Maldives assistance would be invaluable to the UN’s work.

“Maldives’ experience in protecting its incredibly porous border provides invaluable expertise in addressing modern threats, including the prevention of; piracy, trafficking and maritime conflict,” said Lasdous.

Shortly after assuming office last November, the government of President Abdulla Yameen revealed that the country’s foreign policy would involve promoting Islamic characteristics internationally, and increasing South Asian regional cooperation.

The initial parliamentary approval for Maldivian participation in UN peacekeeping missions was granted in October 2011 although there was some opposition at the time from those who argued that Maldivians ought not to be involved in foreign conflicts.

As well as 11 dissenting MPs, religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf expressed concerns that Maldivians would be forced to fight against fellow-Muslims.

“Taking part in the UN peacekeeping operations will force Maldivian forces to fight against Muslims which is unacceptable,” said a statement from Jamiyyathul Salaf at the time.

“Disregarding our own society and getting involved in these matters for the sake of earning respect from powerful countries shows how much the future of this nation is being disregarded,” said Salaf.

After approval by the cabinet in early 2011, the President’s Office expressed hope that the arrangement would enhance understanding of the international security environment as well as consolidating the country’s credibility internationally.

The ensuing two years since the approval of peacekeeping involvement has seen a series of damning UN reports  – notably on the Maldives’ judiciary and human rights record – often resulting in terse responses from the government.


Ahmed Sareer takes up Maldives Permanent Representative role at UN

Ahmed Sareer has taken up the role of the Maldives Permanent Representative to the United Nations on Thursday (December 20) after presenting his letter of credence, local media has reported.

Sareer, who was appointed to the permanent representative role by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan earlier this month, was officially confirmed in the position at a ceremony overseen by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon at the organisation’s headquarters.

In a Foreign Ministry statement seen by local newspaper Haveeru, Sareer praised the UN for its ongoing role in the Maldives pushing for national developments in areas such as human rights and climate change.  He also welcomed the UN’s role in providing the nation with technical assistance such as with the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for next year.

Sareer has previously served as the Maldives’ High Commissioner to Bangladesh.

Sareer’s name was earlier forwarded earlier this year for parliamentary approval as a replacement for Abdul Gafoor Mohamed, who resigned from the UN post over concerns about February’s transfer of power.

Gafoor announced his intention to resign from the post live on Al Jazeera’s ‘The Stream’ programme shortly after the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed.

“I believe the new president should have the opportunity to have his views and policies presented to the world community through representatives who serve him without equivocation or reservation,” Gafoor told Al Jazeera at the time.