The Maldives has called on the UN to reform itself to better address the needs of small island states and global challenges such as climate change.
In her speech at the 70th UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon said the world has failed to counter civil wars, bridge the gap between men and women, and small and large nations, and failed to recognize the environment as an issue of importance.
“The rule of law, and values of good governance are advocated for some, but ignored for others,” she said.
The UN, however, remains the “best hope for humanity,” she said.
“Yet here in the United Nations, we remain trapped in silos: hiding away, behind the excuse of mandates.”
To begin approaching new challenges, the world must redefine the concept of security to include climate change and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius, she said. The UN’s architecture must also accommodate the unique features of Small Island developing states.
“We are reducing our emissions. We are working in good faith, towards a legally binding agreement in Paris this year. And if we, the smallest can act, why can’t the biggest?”
The Maldives last week pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent from a business as usual scenario, a target that falls short of pledges made by other small island states and the ambitious plans for carbon neutrality announced by former President Mohamed Nasheed.
“Excellencies, when young children play by the beach, the waves lapping at their feet, when a fisherman looks to the sea for the day’s catch, and when we feel the cool breeze of the ocean caressing us, we cannot imagine that, those same waters will become our watery grave,” Dunya said.
She also called for the protection of the oceans, and empowering people to consolidate democracy.
In an apparent reference to Nasheed’s imprisonment she said: “The Maldives is a nation that is governed by the rule of law. Regardless of the position a person holds in society, even when it is most inconvenient to do so, we will continue with our strong commitment in upholding the rule of law.”
A UN human rights panel has ruled Nasheed’s imprisonment arbitrary, but the government is refusing to adhere to the opinion, claiming it is flawed and non-binding.
Dunya also spoke on the need to address the refugee crisis in Syria. The Maldives’ recently refused to sign the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees on the grounds of limited capacity.
Palestine must become a full UN member, Dunya stressed. “A permanent solution would be for the complete withdrawal of Israel, and the establishment of Palestine within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
She ended her speech expressing pride in the trajectory of the Maldives.
“Fifty years ago, when we applied for UN membership, there were those that doubted our ability to survive, and questioned our capacity to contribute. After fifty years of being a UN member, I say to those sceptics… we are not only willing, but also able! We are not only viable, but also valuable! And as Maldivians, we are proud of what we have achieved.”