Vulnerable countries that have progressed must not be left out of global agenda, Maldives tells UN

Acting Foreign Minister Mariyam Shakeela of Maldives. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

1 October 2013 – Tough challenges faced by vulnerable countries, such as small island developing States (SIDS), must be addressed by any future global development agenda, even if progress has been made in boosting the well-being of their people, the Acting Foreign Minister of the Maldives told the General Assembly today.

“Simply having a high gross national income (GNI) or a high Human Development Index score does not make SIDS less vulnerable to external shocks, including emerging threats such as climate change, Mariyam Shakeela, who is also the Minister of Environment and Energy of her country, said as she opened the final day of this year’s high-level general debate.

She said that her country had made “remarkable progress” in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the existing development targets to be reached before 2015, but had experienced setbacks due to a variety of factors, including the loss of development assistance following the country’s graduation from the category of least developed countries or LDCs.

“The Maldives is a perfect example of a SIDS graduating from LDC status based on distortive data and geographically disassociated global aggregates and indices,” she added. “Even upon graduation, the country continues to face numerous economic, social and climate-change challenges.”

For that reason, the plight of SIDS, even those that are not longer considered among the poorest, must be given differential treatment in the post-2015 agenda now under consideration, she said, supporting the formulation of a goal focussed on such island nations.

Among challenges faced the Maldives, she described severity of the threat posed by climate change, pointing out that 80 per cent of the small nation is barely one and half meters above sea level. She called for urgent international action to reduce that threat.

Noting also that the country had recently held only its second multi-party election, with a second round now awaiting a decision of the Supreme Court, she said that the most pressing challenge to the Maldives remains democracy consolidation, and related building and reform of institutions.

Such challenges do not, however, “mean that larger countries have a right to intervene and attempt to dictate outcomes in domestic affairs of the Maldives,” she stressed, insisting that.

The process must be allowed to proceed constitutionally and without external interference.


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