24 September 2016, New York; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohamed Asim has said that the international community should “value us by our abilities, not our vulnerabilities”, and has urged the international community to evaluate progress in the Maldives against its own progress, instead of against inappropriate benchmarks. The Minister made these remarks in his Address to the UN General Assembly in New York on 24 September 2016.
Speaking in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Minister noted three overarching themes: the holistic approach of the Agenda as well as the recognition that poverty is multi-dimensional, the necessity of a differentiated approach even within a universal agenda, and the need to be inclusive. Across these areas, the Minister noted several issues of importance for the Maldives, including people-focused development policies, climate change policy, empowering women and girls, investing in health and education, as well as the specific vulnerabilities faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Minister Asim noted that SIDS are uniquely vulnerable to shocks: economic, environmental and institutional. Speaking on the challenges for SIDS, Minister Asim noted that the criteria by which we use to rank development needed to be updated, to reflect the vulnerability of economies, highlighting that access to large-scale financing needed for large-scale infrastructure projects is restricted, which in turn could make it difficult to maintain and sustain the development gains that enabled countries like the Maldives to graduate in the first place. Reflecting on the democratisation process that began in the Maldives only a decade ago, Minister Asim also noted that for the implementation of ambitious agendas, institutional structures needed to be sufficient and capable. Highlighting the need to give space to these institutions to form and grow organically, Minister Asim also informed the General Assembly that unless small States are able to build strong institutions, they would not be able to build resilience. “Maldives will remain engaged with the international community”, Minister Asim stated.
The United Nations, Minister Asim noted, is still best placed to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, due to the knowledge it can draw on, and its power of convening. However, he noted, the need to increase representation in the main bodies of the United Nations, which currently do not include many SIDS.
“We do not believe that might or size determines destiny; our ability, our motivation, our will to work, and our ideas do”, Minister Asim stated, following which he announced the Maldives candidature to the United Nations Security Council for the term 2019-2020. Why? “Because we believe this opportunity is necessary, and because we believe we can! Because we believe that it must be intent, it must be resolve, and it must be fairness and the principle of representation that decides these opportunities” the Minister answered.