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  Untitled Document

His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Shaheed

Minister of Foreign Affairs

 

A Biographical Note

 


Since joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1982, His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Shaheed has risen through the Foreign Service ranks; heading a number of departments including the Bilateral Relations Division, the SAARC Division, and the Multilateral Affairs Department. From 1999 to 2004, he held the position of Permanent Secretary. After leaving the Ministry in 2004 to become the Maldives’ first Chief Government Spokesperson at the President’s Office (at the rank of Deputy Minister), Shaheed returned in July 2005 when he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, a post he held until he resigned in August 2007.

Minister Shaheed was reappointed again on 7 July 2010. Throughout his time at the Ministry and as Chief Government Spokesperson, Shaheed has been a visionary leader who foresaw a new modern country founded upon liberal democratic principles, strong human rights protection, and openness and engagement with the outside world. Shaheed’s beliefs led him to become one of the principle architects of the Maldives’ Democratic and Human Rights Reform Agenda, which culminated in late 2008 with the country’s smooth democratic transition under a new 21st Century Constitution. 

Currently serving his third tenure as the Foreign Minister, Shaheed was appointed following the resignation of the entire cabinet on 29 June 2010, citing attempts by some members of the People’s Majlis to usurp the powers of the executive, block government legislation in parliament and initiate no-confidence motions against ministers on spurious grounds. Minister Shaheed himself survived a no-confidence initiated by the Opposition for his role in the recognition of the independence of Kosovo.

A strong proponent of robust democratic and human rights safeguards, Minister Shaheed was instrumental in transforming the previous Government’s stand on human rights by securing political approval for the creation of a national Human Rights Commission in August 2003 and accession to the UN Convention against Torture in April 2004. In his role as the Chief Government Spokesperson, he also succeeded in reversing the decision of the Government’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to ban the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in July 2005. Later in 2005, Shaheed was co-founder of the New Maldives faction within the Cabinet which worked to promote democracy, good governance and human rights within the Government.

During his former tenure as Minister, the Maldives acceded to the vast majority of international human rights conventions, including the two Core Covenants, and also ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. During this time, the Maldives became one of the original signatories of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and the Convention against Enforced Disappearance. Shaheed’s time as Minister was premised on the belief that real and lasting change must be undertaken in close cooperation with the international community, including international human rights mechanisms. Following his resignation as Minister in 2005, Shaheed continued to promote human rights, a vibrant civil society and freedom of opinion and expression, through the establishment of the Open Society Association.

After leaving Office in August 2007, Minister Shaheed launched the New Maldives Movement and the Maldives Reform Movement with former Cabinet members. An ardent advocate of democratic change, in September 2008, Minister Shaheed became the running mate of presidential candidate Dr. Hassan Saeed in the country’s first multiparty Presidential Election. Following failure to qualify for the second round, Minister Shaheed and Dr. Saeed pledged their unconditional support to the presidential challenger, Mr. Mohamed Nasheed, and actively supported the Grand Patriotic Coalition.

He was also a co-founder of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party, which he left to become a member of the Maldives Democratic Party in 2009.

Minister Shaheed has also been extremely active at international-level. Minister Shaheed received the Muslim Democrat of the Year Award in 2009 at the end of the 10th Annual Conference of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, for his outstanding contribution to democratization in the Muslim world.  In 2010, he was conferred the Medal of Gratitude by the President of Albania, Mr. Bamir Topi, for contribution towards promoting and strengthening peace, stability and development in the Balkans region.

In 2010, Minister Shaheed played a key role in the Maldives’ campaign to secure a membership in one of the main organs of the UN for the first time. Under his leadership, Maldives managed to secure a seat on the Human Rights Council on 13 May 2010, with a record 185 votes in favor for the seat.  

He was a Member of the SAARC Eminent Persons Group from 1997-1998, and proposed the adoption of a SAARC Social Charter. He also served as the Maldives Governor to the Common Fund for Commodities between the years 1999-2008. He also campaigned strongly at the United Nations to oppose the Maldives’ graduation from the category of Least Develop Countries, which would result in the loss of economic, commercial and financial benefits; and successfully led the negotiations with the EU and other donors on the extension of aid and market access to the Maldives beyond graduation in 2011.

Minister Shaheed has also served as a Parliamentarian, as a Presidential Appointee to the People’s Special Majlis (constitutional assembly) from 2004-2007, and was active in the founding of the former governing Dhivehi Raiyithunge Party (DRP), but left after accusing it of obstructing the democratic process.

H.E. Dr. Ahmed Shaheed graduated from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth with a Bachelor’s degree in International Politics and Strategic Studies, and obtained his PhD in 1995 from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, in the field of International Relations. He is an avid writer and academic, and has presented numerous papers at various international conferences covering topics as diverse as economic development, terrorism, diplomacy and democracy.

He is married with four children.

ENDS

 

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