Plenary of the 70th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
Agenda Item 67: Report of the Human Rights Council
Statement by Ms. Zeena Mohamed Didi, Second Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Maldives to the United Nations
New York, 16 November 2015
Thank you, Mr. President.
My delegation echoes others in expressing our deep shock and sadness over the recent attacks in Lebanon, Iraq and France. We offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to those affected by these acts of terror.
My delegation wishes to thank His Excellency Mr. Joachim Rucker, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Office in Geneva, for his commendable work as the President of the Human Rights Council and for presenting its Report to the General Assembly. We will continue to engage constructively with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights across the globe, working hand in hand with Member States.
The Maldives is honoured to have been a Member of the Human Rights Council since 2011 and to have seen the work of the Council steadily increase over these five years, as is evident by the panels and resolutions that have been passed. As we embark on the 10th Anniversary of the Council in 2016, we are provided with an opportunity to reflect upon the Council's achievements and the challenges it has faced. With an ever forward looking mind-set, we must be open to exploring ways that we could improve the work of the Council and its mechanism.
Nonetheless, our collective achievements through the Human Rights Council have been plenty and the work we do is ever increasing. The Maldives is pleased to note that this year's work has continued at a progressive trend and reflect the active engagement of many UN Member States at the Council in Geneva. Most notably, the special sessions on the human rights abuses and violations, such as the past sessions on Palestine, Syria, and most recently the terrorist group Boko Haram this year, are clear indications of the growing importance of the Council and its mechanisms.
The Maldives is grateful to all the members of the Human Rights Council for their commitment in steering through the human rights challenges of this past year. As a member of the Council, the Maldives is proud of what the Council has achieved in a year marred by violence, acts of aggression, natural disasters and the intensification of the effects of climate change. While this is not a positive image of the state of the world today, we are given hope by the reports of progress from the Human Rights Council before this General Assembly.
We would like to express our appreciation for the efforts of the current President of the Council to improve the working methods of this principal organ of the United Nations, to make it more efficient and effective in carrying out its mandate. Efforts to avoid duplication, as well as the biennialization of resolutions are welcome measures, especially by smaller delegations who struggle to cope with the weight of work provided by an ever-more active Council.
As the weight of the Council increases, the Maldives also takes note that there has been a corresponding increase in the work of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. The Maldives expresses its concern that the Office is required to rely ever-more increasingly on extra budgetary resources. We assert, that in order for the Office of the High Commissioner to function in a truly independent manner and without partisanship, it is necessary that it be financed primarily though the regular budget of the United Nations.
The three pillars of work of the United Nations are peace and security, development, and human rights. Unfortunately, human rights continue to be allocated a mere fraction of the priority and budget available to other areas of work. It is important that a greater focus is put towards implementing the ideals we espouse so loudly. It is important that the Council and its mechanisms work hand in hand with Member States with a view towards efficacy rather than rhetoric. It is a travesty that in spite of our best efforts, the situation in Syria and the State of Palestine continue to deteriorate.
The importance of the work done by the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, including special mandate holders, cannot be over emphasized. Special mandate holders, whether on thematic areas or on specific countries, fulfil an important role in this organization. However, it is equally important that special mandate holders maintain their independence and impartiality. They should also follow their code of conduct, and act in a manner that reflects the integrity of the positions they hold and the organization they represent. This organization deserves better.
The Maldives believes engagement with the United Nation Human Rights Council is the obligation of every Member State. In fact, in 2016 we will complete our second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. Though it remains universal, the Maldives notes that many Small Island Developing States are not represented in Geneva, and many delegations do not take an interest in participating in these reviews.
It is undoubted that the UPR is among the most constructive and successful mechanism of its kind to date. The Maldives notes that all States should endeavour to maintain and strengthen its functioning. For the UPR to be truly universal and transparent, more – if not equal – attention should be given to evaluating and reviewing the human rights situations of all countries, to ensure that vulnerable populations are protected everywhere, and reaffirm that all lives matter.
Despite our constraints, and though we are a Small Island Developing State, the Maldives has maintained a strong presence at the Human Rights Council and continues to advocate for those who are most vulnerable, both at home and abroad. We call, on all nations, large and small, to truly realize the vision that no one should be left behind. That the human rights of all peoples are ensured. And that we craft a system that delivers for all.