Her Excellency Dr. Hala Hameed,
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Maldives to the United Nations of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations,
at the Seventy Eighth Session of the UN General Assembly on the Report of the Human Rights Council
Thank you, Mr. President,
I wish to begin by expressing my gratitude to His Excellency Václav Bálek, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations Office in Geneva, for his admirable work as the President of the Human Rights Council, and for presenting the Council’s Annual Report to the General Assembly.
I would also like to express my appreciation to Mr. Volker Türk, High Commissioner for Human Rights, and his team for their unwavering commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.
On the eve of marking the seventy-fifth anniversary of the historic adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Maldives recognizes that the Human Rights Council has demonstrated remarkable strength and resilience in championing fundamental rights, universal values, and international law.
Yet, as we delve into the topic of human rights today, our hearts are heavy due to the devastating situation unfolding in the Middle East. The Government of Maldives strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli military aggression in Gaza, especially the forced displacement of Palestinians without a guarantee of safety or their right to return.
The stark reality on the ground is that out of the two million residents of Gaza, half of them are children, and a staggering 30% of these children are under the age of 10. Sadly, it is these children who bear the brunt of immense suffering.
Considering the loss of these young lives as mere "collateral damage" constitutes a profound violation of universally accepted ethical principles and a clear breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - the Convention which underscores the global consensus that the lives of innocent children must be protected at all costs.
The death toll from the on-going assault by Israel, on Gaza, have now surpassed 8,000, with the numbers continuing to increase every few minutes. We urgently call for an immediate ceasefire, unrestricted humanitarian access to Gaza, the reversal of forced mass displacement of Palestinians, and strict adherence to International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.
We emphasize the crucial need for robust multilateral action from the international community and the necessity to uphold rule-based international order in addressing the grave violations being committed against the people of Palestine.
The Maldives firmly supports the establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders, in accordance with international law and UN resolutions, with East Jerusalem as its Capital. It is imperative that the international community comes together to end this suffering and seek a just and lasting resolution to this conflict.
With that, Mr. President, let me shift our focus to our national context.
We take pride in our active engagement with the Council since its inception in 2006. We are pleased to be a member of the Human Rights Council for the third time and honoured to hold the position of Vice President from the Asia Pacific Group. Our commitment remains unwavering to ensure the credible, balanced, transparent, and efficient operation of the Human Rights Council.
We are dedicated to promoting enhanced cooperation among Member States and UN human rights mechanisms, with particular emphasis on addressing limitations and challenges. Our commitment extends to advocating for the active engagement of nations in special situations, especially Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.
The Maldives has consistently recognized the severe threat that climate change poses to our nation’s security, development, and human rights across various platforms. We are honoured to have taken the lead in advocating for the adoption of the landmark resolution recognizing the “Human Right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment”, just last year.
The Maldives faces harsh challenges due to climate change. Our food and water security remain under constant threat, with vital sectors such as fisheries and agriculture bearing the brunt, affecting the lives and livelihoods of countless Maldivians.
However, these challenges do not deter us from our mission. We remain steadfast in our resolve, evidenced by the ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions we have set forth and the robust domestic measures we are implementing. The Maldives has set an ambitious goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030, underscoring our determination to combat climate change. This commitment is fortified by the enactment of the Climate Emergency Act of 2021, reflecting our proactive approach to addressing this urgent global crisis.
The Maldives is committed to nurturing inclusive social development, illuminating the way to a future that is fair and prosperous for all Maldivians. In this regard, prioritizing inclusivity for vulnerable groups, particularly those with disabilities, continues to be a priority. In June this year, a new financial support framework for individuals with disabilities was launched, resulting in a 50 per cent increase in the baseline disability allowance.
In pursuit of aligning our domestic policy with international instruments, we have also ambitiously pursued a transformative legislative agenda. Our child protection regime has been overhauled by the New Child Rights Protection Act and Juvenile Justice Act.
We also take immense pride in the progress we have made in promoting gender equality. In 2021, the Maldives successfully concluded the review of its Sixth Periodic Report at the CEDAW Committee’s review session, reaffirming the government’s commitment to implement and strengthen measures to end domestic and gender-based violence and to end discrimination against women and girls to fully meet the targets of SDG5. The amendments brought about to the Sexual Offences Act in 2021 are indicative of the government’s commitment in this regard.
The Maldives with its substantial youth population has been focusing on the empowerment of youth as a priority. In this regard, a nationwide multi-stakeholder initiative was successfully implemented, to educate and inspire youth to become socially aware, responsible citizens.
The principles of Human Rights serve as the cornerstone of the Maldives' foreign policy and development vision. We maintain our unwavering commitment to the vital mission of enhancing the Council's capabilities to collaborate effectively with Member States in advancing and safeguarding Human Rights on a global scale.
I thank you, Mr. President