As we celebrate the 20th anniversary since the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, let me express my sincere good wishes and felicitations on the occasion to the People of the Maldives.
The Maldives has made significant strides in recent years in terms of human rights promotion. In 2004 President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom launched the country’s march towards democratic governance and since then we have given greater impetus and focus to strengthening our systems and institutions to better safeguard human rights and fundamental liberties. The enactment of a modern Constitution in 2008 also heralded a new era in the protection of human rights in the country. However, much remains to be done. I am pleased to reiterate the unwavering commitment of His Excellency President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to continue the country’s journey, with greater vigour and determination, to its destination of a consolidated democracy.
In this regard the Government will focus on completing its human rights treaty reporting obligations and implementing the concluding observations of the treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Mechanism as well as securing the gaps that exist within the framework. On this note I am proud that the President of Maldives signed into law the first-ever law prohibiting human trafficking just two days back. The enactment of the landmark legislation symbolizes the principles of which the current administration stands on, in human rights protection.
I also believe that today we should take a moment and take note of the Maldives’ record as a responsible international citizen;- The Maldives has ratified seven of the nine core human rights conventions; is a proud and vocal member of the Human Rights Council and is serving its second term, have hosted sixSpecial Procedure Mandate holders and is a member of the Executive Board of UN Women promoting the equality of women..
As a conscientious member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Maldives has always pledged to defend the Constitution, to protect the rights of children, women and the disabled, to strengthen our judiciary and independent institutions and to uphold the rule of law. We have given a voice to small states and underscored the need of the international human rights mechanism to forge stronger partnerships with them. We have not minced our words in our calls to protect the rights of all Muslims around the world. We have stood up against Islamaphobia and risen to build the fallen bridges of tolerance and respect. We hope to continue this work through its membership in the Council and nationally. The Maldives will soon complete its term as the Vice Chairmanship of the Human Rights Council for the year 2013; a seat its holds as testimony of its work and active leadership at the Council in protecting and promoting human rights at a global level.
In conclusion let me once again extend warm felicitations to all Maldivians on the occasion of this year’s Human Rights Day. Let us pray to the Almighty Allah for the prosperity of our nation and to give us courage and fortitude to defend our fundamental freedoms and to protect our individual liberties.