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Maldives competes for UNHRC membership

Apr 26, 2010

Maldives has secured the seat of UN Human Rights Council membership among the 13 seats allocated for Asian countries. Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that once the country secures its membership in July, voices of small nations, especially the climate impacts faced by small island nations will get due representation.

Male: Maldives has secured the membership of 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council.

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The Maldives, including Thailand, Malaysia and Qatar secured seats among the 13 seats allocated for Asian countries, as Iran withdrew its candidature for the election to be held next month to elect members for the four vacant Asian seats.

Speaking to Haveeru exclusively, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Ahmed Shaheed said Maldives would be getting the highest number of votes in the election to be held on May 13, and added all the countries believed that Maldives, being the only small state competing for the membership, would withdraw its candidature.

“In my visit to Geneva last March, I was only able to secure around 35 votes initially and I believed that Maldives would go to the fifth place [in the election]. When I worked for about a week in Geneva, I came to know that we would be able to secure at least the fourth place. But when I worked in my visit to New York, I was certain that we would be able to secure the first place [in the election]. We would be able to top the election by beating Malaysia. There is no chance for Maldives withdrawing [its candidature],” he said.

He noted that the international community’s confidence in Maldives played a vital role in securing a seat in the council by beating much larger and developed nations, despite being the first time competing for the council’s membership.

This is very strong vote of confidence to the Maldives. We have already given some signs of the works we will be carrying out [as a member of the council] within the next three years. We agreed last month to formulate a new convention on protecting the rights of children. So we will be working to strengthen the international framework of human rights. Maldives is a county that has always argued based on unbiased and strong policies,” he added.

The voice of small nations, especially the environmental effects being faced by small island nations such as Maldives would be represented in the Human Rights Council, once Maldives attains the membership in July, Minister Shaheed stressed.

He further noted that Maldives has also attained the membership of Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group in last November.

The UN General Assembly would be holding the election on May 13, as the current members, including India, Qatar, Philippines and Indonesia would be completing their term as member states of Human Rights Council this year.

Although Maldives, Qatar, Thailand, Malaysia and Iran campaigned for the four seats, Iran, under fire from Western countries over its human rights record, dropped its bid on Friday.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organisation, Soozan Nosel said US tried to dignify the council and added that the work was solely based on the qualities of candidates elected to the council.

Meanwhile, Western powers accused Iran of waging "bloody repression" since contested elections last year as they challenged Iran to open up to international scrutiny during the council’s meeting in Geneva. They also noted that Iran was not confident enough to be able to secure votes to beat a small island state like the Maldives.

United Nations Human Rights Council was formed under the UN Charter, to operate alternatively of United Nations Commission for Human Rights founded in 1946.

While the seats has been allocated based on geographical distribution of countries, 13 seats have been apportioned to Asia and Africa each, six seats to Eastern Europe, eight seats to Latin America and Caribbean, and seven seats to Western Europe and other countries.

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