Statement delivered by:
H.E. Mr. Ahmed Sareer
High Level General Assembly Thematic Debate on
“Integrating Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”
United Nations, New York, 24 February 2015
Thank you, Chair.
The Maldives is pleased to have this opportunity to explore the linkages between crime prevention, criminal justice and sustainable development in the context of the post-2015 development agenda. As the conclusion of the post-2015 global development agenda this year coincides with the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Justice, we are reminded of these important linkages. Over the last six decades, the Congresses have promoted the rule of law, addressed transnational crime from cybercrime to trafficking, and introduced strategies, initiatives and partnerships to combat crime and corruption.
The Maldives also commends the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for its efforts in this area; the Maldives particularly appreciates its work in our country and our region, including drug law enforcement and technical cooperation with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The Maldives knows first-hand of the difficulties that crime, particularly transnational crime, poses to our development. Our borders are incredibly porous, and are continuously at risk of becoming a transit state for transnational crimes such as human and drug trafficking. As an archipelago of scattered islands at the intersection of several maritime trade routes, the Maldives is extremely vulnerable to the pervasive international drug trade. Given our reliance on migrant workers, we also face the challenge of human trafficking. More recently, it was reported that Somali piracy had reached our waters. In the future, as climate change intensifies and depletes the stock of natural resources, we can expect more resource-related conflicts and other security issues around the world.
These kinds of crime pose a threat to peace and stability in our country, as well as the human rights and social development of our people. In each of these cases, we find that transnational organised crime leads to a loss of revenue, productive capacity and resources that would be put to better use to achieve sustainable development. The Maldives government is doing all it can to put an end to them, through national initiatives, such as the introduction of anti-piracy legislation, the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, as well as through our participation in international treaties, such as the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime, and cooperation with INTERPOL and other international authorities on matters of transnational crime.
Trafficking in persons is an issue of particular concern to the Maldives, obstructing efforts to ensure the rights of all migrant workers. The increasing demand for cheap labour has led to abuses in local industries as well as illicit recruiting practices on foreign shores. In our laws and policies, the Maldives has taken concrete steps to stop human trafficking by adopting a multi-sectoral action plan and enacting a new Anti-Human Trafficking Act last year, which matches strong border control with care for victims of trafficking, such as shelter, counselling, medical care and translation services.
While the Maldives is working hard to build our democracy, and strengthen the capacity of our institutions, corruption poses a major obstacle to good governance. To combat corruption in national and local institutions, the Maldives has a constitutionally created, independent Anti-Corruption Commission which oversees progress on all matters of corruption, with the complete backing of the government. We are also a party to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
We have achieved significant progress tackling crime on our shores, but we cannot do it alone. When crime crosses national boundaries, it can only be stopped through international cooperation and coordination among all states. It must be tackled at the source, destination, and every point in between.
The post-2015 development agenda presents an opportunity to articulate a universal goal on peaceful societies, and establish a renewed global partnership to realise this. Achieving sustainable development and building peaceful societies, free of crime and corruption, are closely connected and mutually reinforcing endeavours. As the governments of the world acknowledged in the Rio+20 outcome document, “democracy, good governance and rule of law, at the national and international levels ... are essential for sustainable development, including sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development, environmental protection and the eradication of poverty and hunger.” In other words, the issues of crime prevention and rule of law touch on all three dimensions of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental—as well as the overarching objective of eradicating poverty.
As we bring to life our vision for sustainable development beyond 2015, we should reinforce the principles of criminal justice, rule of law and good governance, as essential elements as encapsulated in Goal 16 of the SDGs. Respect for and promotion of rule of law at all levels should be explicitly mentioned, as it is an important foundation for realising human rights, as well as strengthening accountability and reducing the scope for corruption.
The Maldives supports the proposal of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Further, the Maldives calls for a people-centred agenda, which focuses on rehabilitation, redress and restitution for victims of transnational crime. A people-centred approach must be coupled with a firm and unequivocal commitment to tackle the root causes of transnational crimes, as well as their social symptoms. As we put the final touches on the post-2015 development framework, let us not forget the human dimension of the problems we are trying to solve.