Dr Ibrahim Zuhuree
Deputy Permanent Representative
at the General Discussion of the Sixth Committee
on The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels
18 October 2023
Thank you, Mr. Chair,
The Maldives thanks the Secretary-General for his report sharing insightful perspectives on strengthening and coordinating the rule of law at the national and international levels.
The rule of law is the common language we speak within a nation, and it is the universal language we speak between nations. At the national level, the rule of law is the custodian of citizens' rights, while on the global stage, it is the guardian of world order, peace, and stability.
Here at the United Nations, the rule of law is profoundly embedded in all three of its pillars: peace and security, human rights, and development. Equally so, it is imperative to promote and protect the rule of law to meaningfully achieve the 2030 Agenda and its encompassing goals, particularly SDG 16 which is geared towards promoting peace, justice, and capable institutions.
We are at a crossroads of multiple cascading crises, and it is deeply concerning that we are witnessing a global decline in the rule of law and a backsliding of democracy. Yet we remain boldly encouraged by the Secretary-General’s New Vision for the Rule of Law, which promotes a visionary outlook on renewing a people-centred and gender-sensitive commitment to developing fair and equitable institutions and societies towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and beyond. We firmly agree with the Secretary General’s report “that the rule of law is the basis for multilateral cooperation and political dialogue” and call on the international community to uphold the rule of law as it is enshrined in the UN Charter.
The Maldives concluded its Presidential Election last month. The election saw a record number of candidates. And the campaign was conducted in high spirits. The entire election process, including the voting days, proceeded peacefully, in a cooperative, and transparent manner. This election demonstrated the increasing maturity of citizens’ understanding of the rule of law and democratic norms. We are committed to ensuring that the ongoing transition process, and the subsequent swearing-in of the President-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu on 17 November, will take place just as seamlessly and peacefully as the election. The respect for rule of law essentially translates to respecting democracy and the people’s decisions – in conceding defeat with grace and paving the way for a smooth transition of power.
We have also taken considerable steps to combat the pervasiveness of corruption in our society. The Maldives established a Zero-Tolerance Policy for Corruption and subsequently enacted a Whistleblower Protection Act that encourages reporting of instances of corruption through its anonymous portal.
The legal sector in the Maldives achieved a significant milestone in recent years. In 2019, the establishment of the Bar Council of Maldives was facilitated under the Legal Professions Act, a pivotal step towards regulating and uplifting the legal profession in the country. Last year the Bar Council successfully conducted the inaugural bar exam, in which 176 candidates participated with an average pass rate of 68 per cent.
The Maldives is strongly committed to gender equality, with notable achievements in women's rights through the rule of law. The amendments brought to the Decentralisation Act in 2019 ensure that one-third of local council seats are reserved for women, ensuring inclusivity in governance. The appointments of female Justices to the Supreme Court in 2019 and a female Judge to the Criminal Court in 2020 have broken gender barriers.
The Maldives remains steadfast in strengthening the rule of law, as evidenced by our actions in both national and international spheres Through ensuring peaceful governmental transitions, actively championing gender equality, and rigorously combatting corruption, we have underscored our commitment to societal and democratic enhancement.
In conclusion, the Maldives reaffirms its commitment to uphold and strengthen the rule of law, contributing to a globally cooperative, stable, and progressively sustainable environment.
I thank you.