Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon has told the UN General Assembly that the Maldives journey with the body is proof small states can contribute to the international community.
“The story of the Maldives, is the story of all small states at the United Nations. The Maldives journey at the UN, is proof that with smart ideas, small states can successfully contribute and become significant members of the international community,” said Dunya on the anniversary of the Maldives’ membership.
A press release from the foreign ministry has today described the UN as a “trusted partner and a staunch advocate” of the Maldives during the past half century.
Dunya’s comments were in stark contrast to the previous two appearances by the country’s leaders at the UNGA in New York, during which the Maldives was critical of perceived attempts by the organisation to interfere in the state’s sovereign affairs.
Speaking at the 69th session of the UNGA this week, Dunya noted that the Maldives was the first so-called ‘micro-state’ to seek entry to the UN, and has since been at the forefront of the small state issues, holding the first ever conference of small states 25-years ago and forming the first alliance of small nations.
During its 49 years as a member of the UN, the Maldives has worked to establish recognised links between climate change and human rights, explained a foreign ministry statement today.
Speaking at the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa last week, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – father of the foreign minister – called upon larger nations not to stand in the way of small island leadership on climate change.
“SIDS are ready to lead. Don’t stand in our way,” said Maumoon, representing the Maldives as a special envoy at the conference.
The foreign ministrya also noted that, following the difficult transition from less developed to middle income status nation in 2011, the Maldives has “raised concerns about the criteria used for graduation by the UN as negatively impacting Small Island Developing States”.
The graduation from less developed status was recently described by President Abdulla Yameen as coming with “enormous challenges and hardships.”
As the country’s graduated to middle income status in 2011 – forfeiting access to concessional credit, certain trade concessions, and some foreign aid – Maldivian representatives to the World Trade Organisation accused the UN of ignoring the country’s vulnerabilities.
At the 67th session of the UNGA in 2012, President Dr Mohamed Waheed argued that “small justice is being served for a small state” following the international response to his controversial ascent to the presidency that year.
The following year, it was Dunya’s predecessor Dr Mariyam Shakeela who attacked the UN for what she suggested had been attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Maldives following the UN’s concern at repeated delays of the 2013 presidential election.
Criticism of the Supreme Court’s role in the electoral process by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay was subsequently described as “ill-informed” and “irresponsible” by Waheed, while a report into the judiciary by a UN Special Rapporteur in the same year was described by the Maldives as undermining the government.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement today reiterated, however, the country’s belief that the UN remained the most legitimate forum for globally significant issues.
“It remains the only forum where every nation in the world, big or small, has an equal say,” the statement read.
“Forty nine years ago, the Maldives affirmed our faith in the United Nations; as a shining example of equality, hope and peace, and joined the community of nations to ultimately achieve freedom from want, and freedom from fear. The Maldives will continue on its journey at the UN, providing smart ideas, offering solutions to all issues of global interest.”