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Row over Maldives failed UN Security Council bid

The Maldives was thrashed by Indonesia in the vote for a UN Security Council seat from the Asia-Pacific region.



Ex-foreign ministers have squabbled over the Maldives’ failed bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, after it was suggested the country should not have competed for it at all.

The Maldives was Friday thrashed by Indonesia in the vote for the seat from the Asia-Pacific region, triggering rebuke from some and cautiously worded regret from others.

Dr Ahmed Shaheed, who was foreign minister in Mohamed Nasheed’s government, said those who decided the Maldives should bid for a seat must be held responsible.

“Those who concocted this ill-fated, foolhardy scheme in September 2008 must explain or justify why they acted so irresponsibly and recklessly,” said Shaheed, who is now the UN special rapporteur for freedom of religion or belief.

In another tweet he said regional rivalries would have intensified had it won the seat.

The foreign minister serving in September 2008, when the Maldives decided to run for the Security Council seat in 2018, was MP Abdulla Shahid.

Shahid said the decision was made by the government to promote human rights and make the Maldives a leader in the international arena.

Blaming a specific person for the Maldives’ failed bid was sad, he told Mihaaru Daily.

“If Dr Shaheed could not accept that decision, he had the opportunity to overturn it,” Shahid said, pointing out that Shaheed was his successor.

“It is in the power of the government of the day. We have to check if Dr Shaheed [as foreign minister] advised Nasheed to withdraw from the election.”

Shahid also criticized his predecessor for implying a seat on the Security Council would have been bad for the country.

“The biggest proof of this is that Maldives has been a member of the UN Human Rights Council. If the Maldives faced any sanctions because the Maldives is a member of UNHRC, Dr Shaheed will know best.

“But when I was foreign minister, countries, even the friendliest countries, did not try to get their way by sanctioning us,” Shahid said.

Shaheed spoke to the Maldives Independent.

“The mandates and the work of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Security Council is very different,” he said. “Any talk that does not refer to those differences will not clear up anything. If the Maldives had a UNSC seat, it should not be thought that [other countries] would not try to force our hand. On the other hand, the UNHRC does not have such powers [as the UNSC],” Shaheed said.

The Maldives could make contributions that were internationally accepted in terms of human rights and climate change, he added.

“The world still believes that the Maldives can contribute at the UNHRC in the areas of human rights and climate change. However, global peace and security is a different area. There are very few things the Maldives can do at the UNSC compared to Indonesia,” Shaheed said.

Photo: @mshainee