High Level Thematic Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security”
H.E. Dr. Ali Naseer Mohamed, Foreign Secretary
New York, 1 October 2015
Like a phoenix, the United Nations rose from the ashes of war, providing hope for the victims, light for the lost, and a safe haven for those countries looking for recovery.
The successes of the United Nations are many:
There has been global peace for the past seventy years through its peacekeeping and peace-building missions;
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights have reaffirmed our belief in the rights for all;
The UN feeds 104 million people in 80 countries; in war zones, natural disasters, and in health emergencies;
and the UN helps 17 million asylum seekers and refugees everyday;
At the UN, there is no big or small, no differentiation based on your might or your plight. Equality, and universality are the core principles. And for a small state like the Maldives, it is the ultimate platform where not our size, but our ideas, matter. That is why, our decision to join the UN, fifty years ago, is to date, the best foreign policy decision we have taken.
The first principle of the United Nations is that of sovereign equality. This needs to happen in practice and in principle. Small Island Developing States such as the Maldives may not be able to make significant financial contributions. With our limited human capacity, we might not be present everywhere we need to be. But we CAN contribute. We are WILLING to contribute. Small states have consistently been the moral voice. We are a firm believer that it is not the size, but the ability to contribute with smart ideas that makes a country’s destiny. And we continue to prove this every day.
The principles of good governance, transparency, and accountability not only apply to Member States. They ought to be followed by the United Nations, especially their principal organs. Membership of these organs was fitting for when the UN was formed, but does not reflect the nature of the dynamic world we live in today. The UN must, therefore, be reformed.
The new development agenda we have adopted for ourselves, for the next 15 years, demands a new way of thinking. The Agenda focuses on ensuring coherence and complementarity across goals, as well as processes. It requires us to stop thinking and focus on the linkages across issues. A new way of arranging our work is surely necessary.
A new definition of the concept of security is needed as well. Security can no longer be thought in terms of inter-state conflict. Security implications of economic and social crises, environmental degradation, and climate change must be considered. For the Maldives, climate change poses an existential threat: it risks our food security, it affects our water security: it could even mean loss of territory.
Various issues affect various countries differently. Small Island Developing States are among the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change. SIDS also remain extremely vulnerable to crimes at sea, including piracy and illicit use of natural resources. These non-traditional security threats have implications for the security of small states, as well as that of the wider international community.
The United Nations still remains the best instrument devised to address these challenges. The lofty aspirations and ideals of the UN have inspired us all to live more humanely, more responsibly. Today, as we pay homage to the United Nations, let us work to make our United Nations a better organisation, for our common future, and our common home.