High-Level Thematic Debate on Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation:
Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism
His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Sareer
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations
New York, 21 April 2015
Thank you, Chair.
The Maldives delegation welcomes the opportunity to contribute to this high-level event on the topic of tolerance and reconciliation. This is an important subject for the United Nations to tackle, as it goes to the very core of our Charter and values. We are happy to be here today, in a spirit of hope, to progressively realize our potential to work together as a global community to rise above hatred, violence and fear, and to speak positively of solutions.
My delegation joins others in condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The scourge of terrorism is still sweeping across the world, leaving a trail of destruction and suffering. Innocent lives have been lost, at a Kenyan university, in a Pakistani school, on buses, and roadsides, in churches and mosques. Around the world, we are losing the sacred sense of safety to walk the streets and go about our daily lives. This disruption of peace undermines the dignity of human beings and robs them of their fundamental freedoms and rights. It also threatens the territorial integrity and security of States.
This past year, we have seen the rise of new forms of terror, as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, continues a campaign of fear and violent extremism in the Middle East. The Maldives government stands firmly with our brothers and sisters from Arab States, and across the world, in calling for an end to this violence. Though many leave their native shores to take up arms and fight in the name of ISIS, there is also a global recognition on the need to coordinate more closely on ensuring those who do are identified and face justice. Those who would be enticed are discouraged and the repercussions of such radicalism made abundantly clear. It is our greatest concern that support is mobilized to help rebuild a lasting peace in the region
The biggest challenge to our development, to our way of life, is ignorance. Violence, subjugation, and eternal poverty breed ignorance. Misinformed, yet talented, young people can easily be lured into fanaticism, radicalism, and extremism. Islam’s identity as a religion that supports innovation, knowledge and scholarship, is in danger of eroding away; the Golden Era of this religion is almost forgotten.
The Maldives is proud to be an Islamic State. We see Islam as a great religion founded on values of peace, compassion, and tolerance. We cannot let its name be hijacked by radical and extremist elements to perpetuate hatred and violence. These groups are not only un-Islamic. In fact, they are anti-Islamic. These are terrorist organisations, not religious groups. The Maldives does not condone the use of the veil of religion as a pretext for inflicting terror. We reject the calls by radical preachers and militant groups to turn civil conflicts into religious wars. Our religion condemns violence: it condemns suicide, unjust war and retribution by force. We, the Government and the people of Maldives, condemn in the strongest terms, these terrorist groups, their extremist ideologies and their activities.
Today, the world has a choice to make. Should we allow extremists to shape our future? Or should we take decisive actions to defeat these extremist ideologies? Our answer to these questions will define the way in which we deal with the so-called Islamic State and other terrorist groups.
The Maldives believes that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, race, faith, theology, values, culture, society or group. Nor can it be localised to one nation. Once we accept this, terrorism is no longer a polarising issue but one that requires our collective efforts. We are all in this together. All of us who believe in the inherent value of peace and stability, and in the dignity, equality and human rights of all people.
Especially for a country like the Maldives, with limited capacity but a vast geographical area, international assistance and coordination is of paramount importance. The Maldives recognises streamlined counter-radicalisation efforts are needed to ensure a lasting victory against violent extremism. The Maldives reiterates its unequivocal support for the fulfilment of pillars of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and supports the development of a comprehensive international convention on terrorism. In addition to national initiatives, international and regional coordination is becoming ever more essential, as terrorism spreads beyond national borders. We look forward to working with partners to implement this strategy, towards the shared vision which we have articulated today, and hope to enshrine in Goal 16 of the post-2015 development agenda—a vision for peaceful, inclusive societies for sustainable development.