Mr President

Madam High Commissioner
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen



and a very good afternoon.


It gives me great pride in standing before this gathering and representing the smallest member country at the Human Rights Council, which begins its second term of office. Maldives maybe small, but we dream big and we are proud of our achievements.



It is an honour and a duty for me to assure this Council of the continued commitment of the Government of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom to uphold universal human rights norms and values.Our work at this Council will continue to be based on universality, objectivity, non-selectivity and impartiality.



I also take this opportunity to convey the sincere appreciation of the Government of Maldives to all who expressed their confidence in us by voting for us and enabling us to be part of the Council.



The Maldives believes that membership of the Council is a strong vehicle to drive our national agenda for consolidating human rights.Over the years, the Maldives, though tiny in size, raised its voice and demanded for the protection of human rights in small and large countries.



For instance:

- We have been vocal against terrorism and religious extremism and at the same time spoken out against Islamophobia.We believe Islam is a religion of peace and compassion.

- We stood by our brothers and sisters in Palestine, in supporting their right to self-determination.

- We also supported our brothers and sisters in Libya in marching towards democracy and continue to stand by the people of Syria in finding a solution to their conflict and a better tomorrow.

- We were candid in protecting the rights of all vulnerable groups including women, children and the disabled.

- We managed to put a human face to the right of all to live in a safe environment and for the protection of the rights of all humans affected by climate change.

- We were proud in our belief that all persons have the right to live in a peaceful society.

- We are a country in transition to democracy, and yet we were sharp in our position that accountability should be established for violations of human rights.

- We stood for the voiceless, the marginalized and the smallest. We initiated advocacy of global efforts towards increasing the resilience of Small Island Developing States within the Council.



Our report card, I believe, speaks for itself.



Mr. President,



In 2004 the Maldives started the long walk towards consolidating human rights with the launch of the Reform Agenda introduced by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.The ambitious Agenda, brought to us a modern democratic constitution exemplary in its democratic ideals and human rights safeguards.The full separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary was achieved in a short space of time followed by the setting up of a number of independent institutions.The march towards democratic maturity has by no means been smooth.Despite set-backs the Maldivian people have shown an unwavering determination to write their own story and to showcase it to the global arena including this august Council.



Excellencies,



Looking forward, the Maldives views the second term in the Council as a key opportunity for furthering a rights based political and social discourse in the Maldives.With the peaceful conclusion of a fully transparent second multi-party presidential election in November last year, the Maldives has reached further maturity in it's democratic evolution and firm commitment towards political harmony and social coherence.The Maldives has yet again turned the page onto a new chapter in it's democratic history. President Yameen has brought much needed stability to the political environment and has made rapid strides towards consolidating democracy and human rights in the country.For instance, since assuming Office last November, President Yameen has ratified two important pieces of legislation: the Act Prohibiting Human Trafficking and the Anti-Torture Act.These two Acts are landmark pieces that are intended at addressing very crucial gaps in the legislative framework.



Despite the political upheaval and international criticism the country faced following the change of government in February 2012, the people of Maldives have shown their perseverance and continued commitment towards actualizing democracy through due process.Whilst we confronted numerous teething challenges, we have as a society faced the challenges of political dynamism and emerged stronger.The Government has worked closely with its international partners and we look forward to their continued support in consolidating democracy and to further strengthen our young institutions.Maldivians are particularly keen not to compromise our religious and cultural identity and heritage in the process of change.



The Government of President Yameen has proven to be resilient and committed to ensuring a free and fair environment for the people in exercising their political rights as citizens.The Local Council Elections of January for seats at Atoll, Island and City councils bear testament to this. The Country is once more gripped with election fever as the parties and candidates are in full swing campaigning for the Parliamentary elections to be held on 22nd March.I am pleased to report a number of women and youth are campaigning for these seats.



Mr President, Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,



While the Council is faced with many challenging situations from around the world, the dire situation in the Central African Republic sits on top of its agenda.The Maldives was proud to have joined its friends in calling for a Special Session of the Council in January on the situation in Central African Republic and also for the set-up of the Independent Expert on the country.Subsequent reports have shown the world the grim humanitarian situation that continues on the ground.The Maldives repeats its call for an immediate cessation of acts of violence against innocent and defenceless civilians of all communities in the Central African Republic.



In addition, the Maldives will continue to stand by its brothers and sisters in Palestine.The Maldives has always maintained that restoring the inalienable rights of the Palestinians should remain a paramount issue for this Council.Just as any other country here, the flag of Palestine should wave outside and its name plate in this Chamber; both as an independent and sovereign country and as a full-member of the United Nations.As long as the plight of Palestinians remains, Agenda Item 7 will remain!



Excellencies,



The Maldives has always maintained, especially through its own experience, that the Council's work is not complete once democratic institutions are set up.In fact, the work is far from over.We strongly believe that the Council has a pertinent role to play in emerging democracies where processes and mechanisms and institutions are at their infancy.



While structural reforms form the bedrock of any blueprint for sustaining democracy, it alone is not sufficient. Cultivating values is key!A resilient society, one that can sustain the issues and challenges of democratic infancy, would require a sound value basis that compliments the structural reform that is brought in with democracy.To this effect, the Maldives believes that pro-active measures to increase human rights resilience in new and emerging democracies should be a priority for the Council and the entire UN system.The Maldives' membership of the Council over the last three years has helped the country to take some unprecedented and bold measures to bring the country's national human rights mechanisms on par with international standards.



We believe it is essential for the Maldives to continue its international engagement in promoting and protecting human rights internationally as well as nationally.Importantly the evolution of modern-time democratic constitution making and governance in the Maldives has been well associated with the efforts of the international community. Therefore the Government considers it as its key responsibility to address human rights issues in its effort to consolidate democracy, establish good governance and uphold the rule of law in the Maldives.



While we in the Maldives move forward with the success and achievements of our democratic transition, we request our international partners to support us.We request you to contribute constructively in overcoming our challenges. We urge you not to undermine our judicial system.We call on to respect our institutions, young though they maybe. We urge you to base your partnership with us on dialogue and cooperation not on judgement and retribution.We call on you to understand us.And help us colour the blueprint Maldivians ourselves have drawn up for democracy, rule of law and human rights.



I thank you Excellencies.