On its 50th anniversary of membership with the UN, the Maldivian government defended its rights record, while the opposition called on the government to abide by the UN charter.
The Maldives became a member of the UN on September 21, 1965, just two months after gaining independence from the British.
“Maldivian people are proud of our contribution to the United Nations, to the efforts to give meaning to We the peoples of the United Nations, the very first words of the UN Charter,” President Abdulla Yameen said in a statement.
“During the last fifty years, we stood for the voiceless. We championed the cause of Palestine. We highlighted the dangers of climate change. We helped to identify the undeniable link between the full enjoyment of human rights and environmental degradation. We introduced the concept of security of small states at the UN, and we continue to be the leading voice on that theme. And we call on the world leaders for actions on these issues to realize our common destiny.”
Joining the UN remains the Maldives’ most significant foreign policy decision, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon said.
“The Maldives has also been a leading voice on the issue of human rights. As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, we have been a strong advocate for promoting the rule of law and creating the values of human rights. We achieved these accomplishments without compromising the core national values: the country’s Islamic principles and our cultural traditions,” she added.
The anniversary comes at a time the Maldives has faced global criticism, including the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the jailing of former President Mohamed Nasheed and other politicians.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) yesterday slammed Yameen for “contravening UN and international laws, obstructing human rights, and propagating tyranny and inequality.”
Urging the government to abide by the UN charter, the MDP said: “When the Maldives joined the UN, we pledged to protect generations to come, to maintain and protect freedoms, human rights, human pride, dignity and equality. We pledged to improve justice, and to protect and bring peace to Maldivian citizens. The Maldives also agreed that it will abide by the UN resolutions, agreements and international laws.”
The UN working group on arbitrary detention is reviewing the legality of Nasheed’s imprisonment. A ruling is expected in mid-October.
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail over the detention of a senior judge during his tenure. Criticising the lack of due process in the rapid trial, world leaders have called for his release.
Yameen has declared he would not bow down to foreign pressure to release Nasheed and has repeatedly slammed what he calls foreign interference in domestic affairs.
Yameen’s cabinet in June deliberated leaving the Commonwealth after the human rights and democracy arm of the intergovernmental body discussed measures against the Maldives for human rights violations.