The following op-ed is written by Foreign Minister, Abdulla Shahid
26th June 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the historic adoption of the Charter of the United Nations. This is a milestone in multilateralism. The ideals of the UN Charter which begins with “We the Peoples of the United Nations” gives voice to the vulnerable, calls for peace and security, raises the prominence of equality across race, religions, culture and gender, and underscores human rights and human dignity. The international order of the UN system is built on the premise of the UN Charter and on the promise of hope for social justice, economic development and good governance through respect for sovereignty of nations and promotion of cooperation among nations.
This year in September, the Maldives celebrates 55 years of UN Membership, a bold and pragmatic decision taken by our leaders at the time we gained independence in July 1965. This historic decision overwhelms me in gratitude as it stands witness to the clear vision of our then leadership, on the monumental task of skilfully manoeuvring this Small Island Developing State of ours in the geopolitical landscape. Here we are today, enjoying the benefits of excellent diplomatic ties with almost all the countries, retaining our non-aligned status, yet increasingly becoming visible in the international arena.
Seventy-five years on, we must accept the sad reality of the military forces that countries have resorted to as tensions between countries heightened. The consequential loss of lives of millions of women, children and men in many parts of the world, and the many more millions who are struggling in conditions of destitution and homelessness due to civilian unrest fill our hearts of despair. However, we must acknowledge the continuous efforts of the United Nations to ensure peace and security.
From my reflections on the seventy-five years history of the UN Charter, I see that the strengths of multilateralism have intensified. The bedrock of multilateralism, diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation have elevated to higher levels among and between countries. The community of nations have been able to agree on major plans of action that guide us all towards common goals. Through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we have re-emphasised that resources, roles and responsibilities need to be shared and respected if we are to achieve sustainable development. The partnerships in development cooperation have enabled small nations like ours to prosper and progress. The Maldives has graduated from being among the Least Developed Countries to a Middle-Income Country, a feat that we achieved through rigorous planning and generous assistance from our bilateral and multilateral partners in development.
The Maldives has been able to amplify its voice at the United Nations General Assembly on the most vital concern we have – I refer to climate change and its ramifications that threaten our very existence. We have been instrumental in leveraging the importance attached to climate change in all multilateral discussions, as this we believe is a non-traditional threat to peace and security. The Maldives had strengthened engagement at the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council and all other UN fora through our 55 years membership at the United Nations. Indeed, we in the Maldives may be standing on islands that have the lowest elevation above mean sea level, but the Maldives nonetheless stands firm and high in terms of principled positions on issues of global concern.
The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had brought the entire world to a standstill, and countries large and small, developed and developing had been shaken to the core. The Maldives was no exception. The pandemic came to our shores, and yet, our strategic early interventions, our collaboration with the World Health Assembly and cooperation with the UN system has helped us fare better in coping with the pandemic.
The Maldives believes that human dignity and human rights are central to ensure sustainable peace and security. In this regard, Trust, Cooperation and Solidarity are key principles that shape excellence in diplomacy. We stand by them All.