Joint Debate: Agenda Item 14: Integrated and coordinated implementation of outcomes of the major UN Conferences, Agenda Item 118: Follow up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, and Agenda Item 125: UN Reform: Reforms and Proposals
The only constant in the world today, is change. Changing power structures, changing relationships, changing geopolitics, define the age of globalization and interconnectedness. With these changes, the demands on governments have changed. The role of governments has changed. And so have the demands and role of international organizations, most prominently the United Nations.
The United Nations is a unique organization; it offers unparalleled legitimacy due to its universal membership, it offers unequalled reach into the corners of the globe, and it is a repository of knowledge about best practices and experiences. The aims and objectives that the United Nations took on, at its establishment sixty-eight years ago, still remain relevant: to maintain a global environment that is conducive to peace, stability and prosperity.
In recent years, the world has witnessed unprecedented levels of development. And along with it came new challenges, including climate change, food security, macroeconomic stability and political security. The need to establish good governance principles has become the norm the world over. The path to prosperity is undoubtedly defined by a series of multilateral solutions attained through sound global governance systems.
The United Nations is the world’s biggest “government”. Its constituency is the entire world. Countries and citizens around the world provide resources to the United Nations, and look up to it to work on their behalf, and secure a better world for them and future generations. They count on the United Nations to provide humanitarian relief where its needed, to enable peace and security in conflict ridden places, support governments and their citizens to advance democracy and eradicate poverty, promote human rights and the rule of law. And like every democracy in the world, the United Nations needs to adopt good governance principles, such as accountability, responsiveness and transparency. It needs to eradicate wastage of resources and overlaps where it can.
This is where initiatives such as “Deliver as One” the initiative aimed to deliver United Nations services and initiatives at country level, with one leader, one programme, one budget and, where appropriate one office make perfect sense. The Maldives applauds this initiative launched by the United Nations, aimed at streamlining the work of all United Nations organisations operating in a country, reduces overlap, shares administrative costs, and implements programs together. United Nations agencies have already begun working under one roof reducing costs and creating efficiencies. This also addresses the interconnected and multifaceted nature of today’s challenges.
In 2010, the Maldives became a voluntary adopter in the “Expanding Delivering as One Funding Window for Achievement of MDGs” initiative. This initiative provided resources to support nationally led and owned programming processes to help United Nations Country Teams to Deliver as One. And the United Nations system in the Maldives signed the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for the period 2011-2015, with the Government of Maldives. The Framework outlined helped to align United Nations programmes and funding more closely to national priorities and focused on coordinating development assistance and activities in areas where the United Nations has comparative advantage. It also strengthened government leadership and ownership, and ensured that governments have access to the experiences and expertise of a wide range of UN organisations.
There is a saying, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. It is always more worthwhile to invest in building people and systems rather than doing something for them. History has shown us this. The United Nations, in delivering its programmes and initiatives must therefore, focus on building resilience through investing in institution building and capacity building programs. Democracies are only sustainable when the values that are associated with democracy are prevalent in societies. Thus, the UN should continue its good work in delivering assistance in laying the foundations of democracies. These include constitution crafting, supporting elections and sharing best practices for formulating and strengthening institutions.
The UN is in a unique position to act as an information repository with its wide reach. Therefore it needs to streamline their technical and advisory programmes focusing more on capacity building and empowering the vulnerable and the disadvantaged segments of the society where more allocation is needed for social welfare areas in the emerging democracies. The Maldives has been a recipient of UN assistance during the country’s democratic transition and consolidation process. And in this regard, the Maldives appreciates the effect the UN can have on the future state of democracy and good governance.
Human rights and democracy are closely knitted. The United Nations is the primary incubator of international human rights and norms, promoting standards and values in this regard. The Maldives believes democracy carves out the natural habitat for effective realization of human rights and protection. The Maldives being an emerging democracy lacks the technical expertise, institutional frameworks, financial resources and governance system in countering the multiple and competing challenges that arises throughout a transition. With respect to this, the Maldives strongly urges the United Nations system to develop a more sustainable protocol in assisting new democracies like the Maldives; where the barriers to effective realization of human rights - for example, democracy deficits, poor institutions and weak leadership - is addressed appropriately.
With regards to human rights protection, the on-going treaty body reform process is noteworthy. Treaty bodies are custodians of legal norms established by the human rights treaties. Based on their obligations, states report periodically to treaty bodies, and receive recommendations in turn. This process was designed to be continuous and dynamic. The reporting exercise should include national stakeholders in order to promote national discussions and debate. However, this early vision is now mired with backlogs, delays in reporting and ironically functions because of non-compliance.
The Maldives is a signatory to 7 out of the 9 core human rights instruments. And as many other countries, the Maldives faces severe challenges in its reporting obligations. Lack of technical capacity and financing, the burden of multiple reports, inhibits the preparation of reports while the rapid cycle of reporting inhibits the implementation of recommendations fully. Therefore, the Maldives welcomes the open-ended intergovernmental process to conduct open, transparent and inclusive negotiations on how to strengthen and enhance the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body systems. And we hope that this process will reach a meaningful conclusion next year.
United Nations reform is about improving coordination between UN entities, about making the machine run smoother, with more efficiency, increased transparency, fairness and equality. But however, it is also about ensuring that the UN has the tools, the resources, and the clout necessary to achieve the wide and varied mandate that we, the Member States entrust on it. The United Nations can only respond better to crises and threats around the world, if it has the necessary resources to do so.
The United Nations should also endeavour to be more efficient and cost-effective. In this regard, the Maldives believes that the creation of a single agency by merging four different entities, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women was a step in the right direction. The Maldives also appreciates the on-going efforts to bring the UN closer to the people, through the Internet and social media handles, and the effort to reduce its carbon footprint, greenhouse emissions and water consumption.
Further, the Maldives welcomes the processes being undertaken in order to improve the internal controls and oversight mechanisms, and also increase transparency and integrity. These are core values of good governance that the United Nations advocates around the globe and should justifiably be practised at its own offices. Moreover, it would enable the United Nations to be more accountable, less corrupt and free from discrimination.
Whatever our national differences may be, the United Nations still remains the most legitimate forum for discussion of issues that are of global significance. It is the only forum, where every nation in the world, big or small, has an equal say. The organisation derives its legitimacy from its Members. And it is the Members, along with the civil society and individual citizens that must make the United Nations, a more relevant organisation to the twenty-first century.