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Maldives News Bulletin, 16-03-2008
Issue No: No.1153
Foreign Minister arrives in Dakar for the OIC Summit
 
9 Mar: Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Shahid, arrived in Dakar, Senegal, to attend the 11th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference from 13th to 14th March 2008.
The Islamic Summit Conference is being organized by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which consists of 57 member states. The OIC works towards promoting international peace and security among its member states, and also encourages close cooperation in the Muslim world.
Various global issues are expected to be discussed at the meeting to be held in Dakar. From the independence of Kosovo to the Middle East peace process are to be tabled in the agenda.
This is the second time the Islamic Summit has been hosted in Senegal. The city of Dakar also hosted the 6th summit in 1991. The Maldives joined the OIC in August 1974 and has attached great importance to the work carried out by the organization, to protect and preserve the essence of Islam and also to contribute to the solidarity of the Islamic Ummah.
His Excellency Mr. Hussain Shihab, Ambassador of Maldives to Saudi Arabia, Dr. Hala Hameed, Deputy Minister at the President’s Office, Mr. Mr. Mohamed Shahudy, Assistant Director General and Mr. Zeenad Abdul Wahid, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also will be joining Minister Shahid in Senegal.
Minister Shahid travelled to Senegal, after concluding his visit to Geneva, to attend the High Level Segment of the 7th Session of the Human Rights Council.


Celebrations of Commonwealth day

9 Mar: This year’s celebrations are being held in Maldives, at a regional level. A delegation from the association arrives in Male’, and is to take part in the celebrations. The Asian Regional Director of Commonwealth is leading the delegation.  The celebrations would close on the 13th of March. Youth from Bangladesh, India, Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia are participating in the activities alongside Maldivians.


“We are heartened by the great importance that the Commonwealth continues to attach to the protection and preservation of the environment”, says the President

10 Mar: The President has said that we are heartened by the great importance that the Commonwealth continues to attach to the protection and preservation of the environment. He made the statement in his message on the occasion of the Commonwealth Day 2008.
In the message, the President highlighted that Maldives is among the most ecologically vulnerable members of the Commonwealth family and is also in the world community.
“It is of the utmost importance that we address all major environmental concerns on an international platform, and to fulfill our responsibility to ensure that future generations are not deprived of the opportunity to grow up and to live in a safe and protected environment. We believe that environmental protection, preservation and security are part of an individual’s basic human rights.” He added.
The President also said that, Commonwealth is a trusted friend in times of need, a faithful partner in the global area and a capable ally in development. He also welcomed Commonwealth’s style of global diplomacy, which uses the power of consensus to make multilateralism work.


Special Envoy of Turkey delivers a letter from the Turkish President to the President

10 Mar: The Special Envoy of Turkey, Ambassador Bahattin Gursoz, delivered a letter to the President from the Turkish President, Mr. Abdulla Gul. The presentation of the letter was made during a courtesy call on the President by Ambassador Gursoz.
During the meeting held at the President’s Office, Ambassador Gursoz spoke on the work done to promote the candidacy of Turkish city of Izmir to host the “EXPO 2015”. Further, the President and Ambassador Gursoz discussed ways to strengthen the close bilateral relations between the Maldives and Turkey.
The meeting was attended by the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Hussain, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulla Hameed, Executive Director at the President’s Office, Dr. Moosa Fathy, Mayor of Bornova, Mr. Sirri Aydogan, who is accompanying Ambassador Gursoz and the Honorary Consul of Turkey in Maldives, Mr. Ismail Hilmy.

The President congratulates the Prime Minister of Malaysia


11 Mar: The President has sent a message of congratulations to the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mr. Abdullah Ahmed Badawi, on his assumption of office for a second consecutive term.
In the message, the President extended warm congratulations and sincere good wishes to Mr. Badawi on his success. The President also expressed his confidence that the brotherly relations of friendship and co-operation that existed between the Maldives and Malaysia would further strengthen in the coming years.


First Maldives Ambassador to Japan presents Credentials

11 Mar: The First Maldives Ambassador to Japan, His Excellency Mr. Abdul Hameed Zakariyya presented his credentials to His Majesty, Emperor Akihito. The ceremony was held at the Ceremonial Hall of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
During the ceremony, Ambassador Zakariyya conveyed to the Emperor greetings from President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the President’s wishes for the Emperor’s good health, happiness and well-being. He also conveyed the Government of Maldives’ desire to strengthen the existing friendly relations between the Maldives and Japan.
The Emperor expressed his gratitude to President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for the President’s kind sentiments and expressed the hope that the relations between Japan and the Maldives would be further strengthened in the future.
The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan attended the ceremony. Present also at the ceremony were the Grand Chamberlain, the Chamberlain, the Grand Steward and the Grand Master of the Ceremonies.
Ambassador Zakariyya is the first Maldives Ambassador to Japan. Mr. Zakariyya is a long serving career diplomat, and has held a number of senior posts including Foreign Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in 2004). He had also served in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons of the United Nations in the Hague, Netherlands from 1998 to 1999.
The Maldives Embassy in Japan was opened on 5th February 2007.


Foreign Minister reiterates the Maldives’ commitments to the values and principles of the Commonwealth of Nations
 
11 Mar: Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Shahid has reiterated the Maldives’ commitments to the values and principles of the Commonwealth of Nations.  In his statement on the occasion of Commonwealth Day 2008, Minister Shahid highlighted the Government’s steadfast commitment to the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Looking at this year’s theme, “The Environment – Our Future”, Minister Shahid added that as nations of the Commonwealth, we share similar environmental concerns affecting the lives of our collectives. In his speech Minister Shahid noted that Environmental issues such as climate change lists as top priority of all small and vulnerable nations like ours, and that this global issue can only be addressed by working together.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala last year reaffirmed that climate change is the biggest challenge facing nations today, especially the small states.
In his statement, Minister Shahid reaffirmed his confidence in the cordial and fraternal ties binding the nations of the Commonwealth.
In member states of the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Day is celebrated on the second Monday in March.


Foreign Minister meets his counterparts from Mali, Gabon and Djibouti
 
11 Mar: Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr Abdulla Shahid met with His Excellency Mr Moctar Ouane, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Mali, Her Excellency Madam Laure Olga Gondjout, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Gabonese Republic and His Excellency Mr Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti. The meetings took place on the sidelines of the 11th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference which is scheduled to be held from the 13-14 of March in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
During the separate meetings held, discussions were mainly focused on the friendly relations that exist between the Maldives and the respective countries. The Ministers also exchanged views on further strengthening the existing relations.
Minister Shahid further briefed his counterparts on the Maldives’ initiative currently ongoing in Geneva on the implications of Climate Change for the enjoyment of human rights. The Maldives, being a Small Island Developing State with a fragile and vulnerable environment has strongly advocated and called for the protection of the environment at the international arena.  Addressing the Sixth Session of the Human Rights Council on September 2007, Minister Shahid called for a debate at the Council on the impact of climate change on human rights. The Maldives will table a resolution on the topic at the ongoing Seventh Session of the Council.
Ambassador of the Maldives to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia H. E. Mr. Hussain Shihab participated in the meetings with the Minister.


Minister at the Italian Foreign Ministry meets with Senior Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
 
11 Mar: Minister Anacleto Felicani, a High Ranking Officer at the Italian Foreign Ministry is on a visit to seek support of the Government of Maldives for the Italian bid to host the '2015 World Expo’ in the city of Milan, the elections of which will take place during the 143rd Session of the BIE in Paris on 31 March 2008.
During his visit, Minister Felicani met with Mr. Abdulla Hameed, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Mr. Abdul Azeez Yoosuf, Ambassador at-large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, Minister Felicani, Deputy Minister Hameed and Ambassador Azeez exchanged views on further strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Minister Felicani also met with Ms. Dunya Maumoon, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Minister Felicani and Deputy Minister Dunya Maumoon discussed the common concerns between the two countries and the need for working together to combat global climate change.
The Bureau of International Exhibitions (BIE) is the international organization and regulatory body responsible for hosting the International Exhibitions and the World Expos. The Maldives became a member state of the BIE on 9th November 2007.


The President says that the Government is seeking international aid to find a solution for island erosion in the Maldives

12 Mar: The President said that the Government is seeking international aid to find a solution for island erosion in the Maldives. He made the statement while meeting with the people of South Maalhosmadulu Atoll Kendhoo.
Addressing the people of Kendhoo, the President noted that island erosion is a difficulty faced by most of the islands in the Maldives and urged the people to do what they can to prevent island erosion.
Speaking at the ceremony, the President noted that the people of Kendhoo are a skilled community. He also highlighted the effects of global warming and rising sea levels. Further, the President said that the Maldives would be among the small island states which will be most affected by climate change.
The vote-of-thanks were delivered by the Island Chief of Kendhoo, Mr. Abdul Samad Moosa.
Upon arrival at Kendhoo, the President and the First Lady received a warm welcome from the senior officials and the residents of Kendhoo. A welcome song was also presented by the students of Kendhoo School to greet the President and the First Lady on their arrival.
After the ceremony, the President and the First Lady personally met with the people of the island.


Maldives Welcomes Decision of UN Special Rapporteur to Visit Maldives; Updates UN Expert on Violence against Women on Positive Developments
 
12 Mar: Geneva: The Maldives Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, H.E. Mr. Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, addressed the plenary session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in response to the presentation of annual reports by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Ms. Yakin Erturk.
Ambassador Ghafoor used his intervention to update Mr. Ligabo on the significant strides taken in the Maldives to promote and protect a free, vibrant and responsible press. He also welcomed the Special Rapportuer’s decision to visit the Maldives in April at the invitation of the Government.
Addressing Mr. Ligabo and assembled delegates of the Council, Ambassador Ghafoor noted that the visit comes at an extremely opportune time: “strengthening press freedom is one of the key pillars of the Government’s current democratic and human rights Reform Agenda”. He went on to update on steps already taken to strengthen freedom of opinion and expression and reassert the Government’s commitment to successful implementation of the Media Reform Package.
In his response, Mr. Ligabo thanked the Maldives Government for the invitation and expressed his appreciation for the important legal reforms taking place in the area of press freedom. He noted that he is looking forward to working with stakeholders in the Maldives in order to contribute to the formulation and implementation of these important reforms.
After the debate in Council, Ambassador Ghafoor held a private meeting with Mr. Ligabo to discuss the latter’s upcoming visit to the Maldives and to provide further updates on the Reform Agenda and the ongoing media reforms.
Later in the day, Ambassador Ghafoor made a Statement in response to the report of Ms. Erturk. He informed the Special Rapporteur that the Maldives is taking significant strides towards strengthening its national legal framework to provide better safeguards for women and children. “In this regard”, noted the Ambassador “the Maldives Government has recently amended the regulations on sentencing guidelines in order to provide better safeguards for the victims of sexual abuse, and to prescribe tougher sentencing for perpetrators of sexual abuse including child abuse”.
He also informed the Special Rapporteur that the Government is currently working on drafting a Bill on domestic violence and has also taken steps to promote a stronger gender perspective in judicial proceedings by appointing the country’s first two female judges and first female magistrate to the bench.
In conclusion, the Ambassador extended an invitation to Ms. Erturk to visit the Maldives during 2008 in order to “further strengthen the legal framework in the Maldives with regard to her mandate”.
The Maldives is one of only 57 States to have extended a Standing Invitation to all UN human rights Special Rapporteurs to visit and report on human rights in the country.


Minister of Foreign Affairs Attends Foreign Minister’s Meeting of the OIC
 
12 Mar: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid has attended the Foreign Minister’s meeting of the 11th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in Dakar, Senegal.  The 57 member-state, Organization of the Islamic Conference is hosting its Summit in Senegal, attended by Heads of State and other senior diplomats. The Foreign Minister’s Meeting, which was held from 10 to 12 March 2008, was a two-day preparatory meeting ahead of the Summit. The Meeting was chaired by the Foreign Minister of Senegal H.E Mr. M. Cheikh Tidiane Gadio.
Given the current climate within the Muslim world, numerous issues have been debated at this year’s session. The OIC has been at the centre of reform, publishing a new Charter of the organization for approval by the member states. The discussion on the Charter itself has also taken centre stage in Dakar with provisions and articles being finalized by the Foreign Ministers of the OIC.
H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs will attend the Summit as the Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Maldives.
Minister Shahid travelled to Senegal on the 9th of March, after concluding his visit to Geneva, to attend the High Level Segment of the 7th Session of the Human Rights Council.


The Maldives celebrates International Women’s Day
 
12 Mar: H.E. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Madam Gayoom graced the official function held on the island of Eydhafushi, Baa Atoll, to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event, held around the theme of “Investing in Women and Girls” was organized by the Ministry of Gender and Family and attended by senior officials of the government, Baa atoll officials and communities from around the Maldives.
During the event, President Gayoom highlighted the vitally important role played by Maldivian women in different walks of life. Noting the importance that Islam gave to the common humanity and equal status of men and women, he paid tribute to the many achievements of Maldivian women and to their many contributions to society. The President also used his speech to emphasize the importance of providing more and better life opportunities for women; as well as to outline steps taken by the Government to provide better legislative safeguards for women. The President also handed awards to a number of noteworthy women who had contributed to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Maldives.
In her message to mark International Women’s Day, the Minister of Gender and Family, H. E. Ms. Aishath Mohamed Didi, used statistics to highlight the enormous achievements made by the country towards greater gender equality over the last 2-3 decades with the consistent efforts by the government and the people. She noted the parity in life expectancy, as well as health and education status.  She highlighted that we face challenges in encouraging more women into higher education and employment.  The Minister highlighted that more accurate data on women’s work had been obtained through the “engendering of the 2006 census”.  Minister Didi stressed the need to strengthen institutional safeguards to ensure better protection for women.
The Maldives has witnessed major achievements in the advancement of women over the past year. Constitutional guarantees of non-discrimination on the basis of sex and equality for all, the drafting of specific Bills on issues of concern to women, and the removal of the gender bar from running for the Presidency of the Maldives are just some of the steps taken to promote women’s rights. Moreover, the Government this year appointed the first ever female judges to the judicial bench.  The Maldives acceded to the International Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1993 and it’s Optional Protocol in 2006.
Commenting on the occasion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, H. E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid congratulated all women in the Maldives for their central role in the betterment of society. “Today marks the 25th anniversary of the celebration of International Women’s Day in the Maldives” said Minister Shahid. “Women have always played a vital role in Maldivian society. Yet it is clear that, given the right opportunities, that role could be even greater. Such an eventuality is important for both individual women – who should all be allowed to realize their individual potential – and for Maldivian society more broadly which needs to benefit from the skills and abilities of all citizens irrespective of gender.
Continuing his comments, the Minister noted that the Maldives is working closely with the international community to further strengthen women’s rights. “Last year the Maldives received a very positive appraisal from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Moreover, the Maldives Government extended a personal invitation to the UN Special Reporter on Violence against Women to visit the Maldives at her convenience”.
March 8 is celebrated across the world as International Women's Day (IWD).


“Women have an equally important role to men in ensuring that the democratic reform agenda is completed successfully”, says the President

13 Mar: The President highlighted that Maldivian women have an equally important role to that of men in ensuring that the ongoing democratic reform agenda is completed successfully.  In his speech at the official function held at South Maalhosmadulu Atoll Eydhafushi to mark International Women’s Day 2008, the President called on the community to facilitate stronger participation of women in all aspects of development.
The President emphasized that it was a key priority of his Government to ensure that women were provided equal access in all nation-building and reform efforts.  “We have been very successful in our efforts over the years to provide greater development opportunities for the women and the girl child”, he added.
He went on to note that the number of women in Government employment had increased rapidly over the years. “There are women in top ranked Government posts, including Island Chiefs”, he said.  He pointed out that, today, 41 percent of Government employees were women.
In his speech, the President highlighted the importance of respect and dignity, and the collective responsibility to ensure that people’s respect and dignity were upheld at all times.  He said that it was a person’s most valuable asset.
The President noted that Islam called for the upholding of the rights of women and the facilitation of development opportunities for women.  “Islamic countries are attaching a high priority to this, and the Maldives is among the frontrunners”, he said.
Awards and certificates were presented at function to the most active women’s development committees in the country during 2007.  The presentations were made by the President.
During the function, the President was presented with a commemorative shield by the Minister of Gender and Family, Ms Aishath Mohamed Didi, for his outstanding service for the empowerment of women in the country.
Commemorative shields were also awarded to three women who had made outstanding contributions to women’s development in the Maldives over the past 25 years.  The three recipients were Ms Fathimath Jameel, Ms Raashida Yoosuf and Ms Aneesa Ahmed.  The shields were presented by the Minister of Gender and Family, Ms Aishath Mohamed Didi.
During the function, the First Lady Madam Nasreena Ibrahim was presented with the copy of the publication ‘Women’s Development in the Maldives’, by the Gender Minister.
In her speech, the Gender Minister highlighted the importance of providing equal opportunities for women, and highlighted the importance of sustaining the current momentum to achieving this important policy objective.  She too called on all stakeholders to contribute to these efforts.
The vote-of-thanks was delivered by the Atoll Chief of South Maalhosmadulu Atoll, Mr. Mohamed Mahir.


Foreign Minister Calls on the OIC to Embrace and Adapt to the New Realities and Challenges of the 21st Century with a Firm Vision

15 Mar: Minister of Foreign Affairs H. E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, has addressed the 13th Summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) yesterday. He used his address to call on the OIC to embrace and adapt to the new realities and challenges of the 21st century with a firm vision. Such a vision, Minister said ought to be one of, “a vision of Islam- as it is a religion of moderation and modernity”.  Reiterating his call, Minister Shahid said, “we are here to today discuss and share ideas on the challenges faced by the Islamic Ummah, we are here today because it is our duty to find a better life for our Muslim brothers and sisters who are, in many cases, facing difficult and uncertain times”.
Illustrating his point, Minister Shahid highlighted that the situation of the occupation of Arab lands required an invigorated unanimous effort by the OIC for greater engagement in the resolution of the conflict. He also drew the Conference’s attention to the recent abhorrent attacks on Prophet Muhammad by the media and reiterated that the Organization needed to play a vital role in combating all falsehood against Islam. The Minister stressed that Islam was a religion of peace and moderation and thus a united campaign by the entire Islamic world was essential to safeguard the soul and true spirit of Islam.
“We are here today, to protect and embrace the true spirit of Islam”, said Minister Shahid, “to take head of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad shown and to preserve the essence of Islam in its completeness and its richness”.
Minister also used his speech to draw attention to the challenges faced by the Maldives due to climate change and highlighted the new phase of the Maldives’ efforts to raise awareness about the human reality of the human face of climate change. Minister noted that, in this campaign, he had called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to debate the effects of climate change on individual human rights such as the right to food, the right to water etc. He urged the members to support the Maldives’ initiative in the Human Rights Council and he said, “The time has come for all of us to be more vigilant about environmental concerns and to ensure that our lifestyles today do not imperil the future of our children tomorrow.”
Minister Shahid was designated as the Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Maldives to the Islamic Summit, and led the Maldives Delegation. H E Mr. Hussain Shihab, Ambassador of Maldives to Saudi Arabia, Dr. Hala Hameed, Deputy Minister at the President’s Office, Mr. Mohamed Shahudy, Assistant Director General and Mr. Zeenad Abdul Wahid, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the Summit Conference.
The Islamic Summit, organized by the OIC which consists of 57 member states, was held in Dakar, Senegal from the 13-14 of March. The OIC works towards promoting international peace and security among its member states, and also encourages close cooperation in the Muslim world. The Maldives joined the OIC in August 1974 and has attached great importance to the work carried out by the organization, to protect and preserve the essence of Islam and also to contribute to the solidarity of the Islamic Ummah.





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