Ms Farzana Zahir,
Deputy Permanent Representative
United Nations High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace – 20th Anniversary Forum convened by the President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly
New York, 13 September 2019
Thank you, Mr. President,
The United Nations core principles, as set out in the very first Article of the Charter is to maintain international peace and security, and remove threats to peace by peaceful means. The UN Charter’s vision of a peaceful and prosperous world can be achieved only through a culture of peace and non-violence. Investing in reducing poverty, sustainable economic and social development, increasing our ability to adapt to climate change, guaranteeing fundamental gender and human rights through democratic processes, understanding and promoting tolerance and solidarity through participatory communication and thereby the free flow of information and knowledge, are all essential elements of this process.
The Maldives’ commitment to a culture of peace stems from our core values and beliefs. We have always been a peace-loving nation. Sadly, today’s world has brought about a degree of imbalance, making the Maldives and other countries more vulnerable to different domestic and international variables, stemming from growing extremism and violent extremism. These complex threats require equally complex and articulated responses. Only together can we have a real impact in ensuring peace and security. Only together can we achieve education for all, gender equality and our commitment to leaving no one behind, to respect the life and dignity of each human being without discrimination or prejudice. The holistic approach to the culture of peace can start at home, within families, to thy neighbours, within our small island communities and between atolls and as a nation, to reach out globally.
The Maldives has always believed that improving the quality of life of our people will make it peaceful, secure and stronger. A stronger Maldives is good for the security of the Indian Ocean region. We believe that it is our moral obligation to work towards strengthening the culture of peace at home and abroad.
The new administration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has made major policy changes that contribute towards promoting a culture of peace. Creating a separate Ministry of Arts Culture and Heritage, which is mandated to promoting arts and culture and restoring heritage for future generations to reflect into a glimpse of the life of our peace-loving forefathers. The youth and sports Ministry with its added mandate of community and civil society empowerment and engagement would enhance avenues for cultivating community spirit and cohesion, especially among the youth. The culture of CSOs stemming from the grass roots to promote and fight for causes, enhance community participation and harmony to create a peaceful community environment. This also defends freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to dialogue and listening, without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others. This creates an avenue to share time and material resources in a spirit of generosity, to put an end to exclusion, injustice and political and economic oppression.
The Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services is mandated to address the most vulnerable, including children, women and the elderly to improve their social wellbeing. Closing the gender gap through women’s empowerment is a priority agenda for the government by ensuring female representation at decision making levels. For the first time, Maldives has a cabinet with 35% of women. The recent appointment of two female justices to the Supreme Court, for the first time ever, is another step not only in promoting gender empowerment but also in restoring justice and rule of law.
With these strides towards promoting a culture of peace, there are some challenges and emerging threats. It has been recently documented that there exist cells connected to terror groups domestically. Hence, there is a grave need for countering violent extremism to maintain and further promote a culture of peace.
The threats that acts of terrorism pose to international peace and security is growing and multiplying every passing year. There is a need for a closer collaboration within and between nations to achieve greater synergy in shaping our recommendations in international peace and security. We can make progress by upholding the fundamental characteristics of the international State-system, and the principles of multilateralism.
The Maldives has always argued for mainstreaming non-traditional security threats in the discussions on international peace and security. Addressing such issues require going above and beyond the traditional discourse on security and propagate the culture of peace. The world therefore may wish to expand its horizon and examine ways in which such issues could be addressed in a more holistic fashion.
I thank you,