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Maldives News Bulletin, 30-03-2008
Issue No: No.1155

The Government and the UN sign the Country Program Action Plan for the next three years

25 Mar: The Country Program Action Plans (CPAP) for the new programming cycle for 2008 – 2010 with the United Nations system in the Maldives was signed. The CPAP documents, with a resource envelope of US$19.4 million, were jointly formalized by the Government and the UN Development Group’s Executive Committee (UNDG ExCom) agencies represented in the country, namely UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA, mandated with improving UN development effectiveness at the country level.
On behalf of the Government, the documents were signed by Dr. Hussain Niyaz, Executive Director of the Department of External Resources; and for the United Nations, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Patrice Coeur-Bizot and Mr. Kenneth Maskall, Representative of the UNICEF in the Maldives.
The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) signed last year identifies three main areas of support to national priorities: Social and Economic Equity, Environment Management and Disaster Risk Reduction, and Governance.  The CPAPs are essentially the operational programs based on these development results jointly defined in the UNDAF, and contain the expected program outputs as well as the distinctive roles of the different agencies in the defined development cooperation. Throughout the UN programming process and with the signing of the CPAPs, the UN system continues to reaffirm its support to development priorities in the 7th National Development Plan (NDP), the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the realization of the Maldives’ human rights obligations. In the implementation of the programs, the UN will continue to work closely with a broad range of partners within the Government, civil society and the private sector. The UNDAF and the subsequent programming documents including the CPAPs are also key manifestations of the UN Reform at the country level and will indeed be a critical instrument for the harmonization of UN development assistance.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Hussain Niyaz, Executive Director of the Department of External Resources expressed appreciation to the UN System for its assistance towards the socio-economic development of the Maldives, particularly for its role in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the 2004 tsunami. Speaking of the new Country Program, he said,
“This Program has been developed and finalised with unprecedented levels of participation and partnership between the UN System and the Government counterparts…and is designed to ensure that UN assistance will complement the Government’s efforts to achieve the objectives of the 7th NDP, the Millennium Development Goals and the Government’s Road Map for Democracy.”
Noting the Maldives’ graduation from the list of LDC’s, Dr. Niyaz said “the timing of the new country programs correspond fully with the smooth transition period set by the UN for the Maldives to graduate from LDC status to the ranks of Middle Income Countries.  Thus, the Maldives looks towards the UN for all the assistance it can extend at this momentous time in the country’s development.”
In his remarks, UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Patrice Coeur-Bizot noted that the programming process would bring about greater coherence and effectiveness in development assistance in the country and that with the CPAPs, “the Government and the UN were embarking on a new phase of development cooperation that addresses key national development challenges and aims to build on and sustain the results of the tsunami recovery programs into the long-term developmental goals of the country.” The ceremony, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was also attended by officials from the UN and the Government.



The Alternative Executive Director of the ADB pays courtesy call on the Foreign Minister


 25 Mar: The Alternative Executive Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Mr. Sibtain Fazal Halim paid a courtesy call on H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Mr. Halim is on a 2 day visit to the Maldives, as part of a routine courtesy visit to assess the on-going ADB projects in the member states.
At the meeting, Minister Shahid highlighted the environmental challenges faced by the Maldives, and commended the dynamic role played by the ADB in financing environmental mitigation efforts in Asia and the Pacific region. Minister Shahid also noted the economic ramifications caused by the 2004 Tsunami and briefed Mr. Halim on the reconstruction and recovery projects underway in the country. In his comments Mr. Halim applauded the vast achievements attained in the recent past by the Maldives.
Discussions were also held on the graduation of the Maldives from the list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and economic and environmental issues faced by the country.
The Ambassador of the Ministry H.E. Mr. Abdul Azeez Yoosuf and Executive Director Dr. Hussain Niyaz of the Department of External Resources attended the call.
The ADB is dedicated to poverty reduction in Asia and the Pacific, mainly focusing the economic growth, social development, and good governance, while also promoting regional cooperation and integration in partnership with governments, the private sector, and nongovernment and international organizations.
The Maldives joined the ADB in 1978.



Maldives Initiated Climate Change and Human Rights Resolution at the UN Human Rights Council


 26 Mar: The Maldives has tabled a Resolution that seeks to study the relationship between climate change and its impact on the enjoyment of human rights at the Human Rights Council, Geneva. The announcement was made by H. E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs at a press conference held at the Foreign Ministry.
The text of the Resolution, released by the Foreign Ministry, reaffirms the norms and standards stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, and recognizes climate change as a global problem requiring a global solution. It also recognizes that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) remains the preeminent global framework to deal with climate change issues and reaffirm the Principles of the UNFCCC. The Resolution openly welcomes the decisions of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007, in particular the adoption of the Bali Action Plan.
Operationally, the Resolution requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake a detailed analytical study on the relationship between climate change and human rights. The study would then be submitted to the Tenth Session of the Council in March 2009.
Responding to questions posed by the media today, Minister Shahid reiterated that the issue of the effects of climate change was a matter very close to the hearts of all Maldivians. He emphasized that climate change was a matter life and death and as such environmental degradation violated Maldivians’ very fundamental right to life. The Minister explained that by taking this issue international, the Maldives simply aimed at creating awareness of the human rights implications of climate change.
The Maldives has been building momentum in creating awareness on the implications of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights. In July 2007, while speaking at the Royal Commonwealth Society in London, President Gayoom posed the question: \"is there a right to a safe environment?\". In his speech, the President proposed a new initiative on the \"human dimension of global climate change\", arguing that if environmental degradation has significant impact on the enjoyment of human rights, and if climate change causes environmental degradation, there must be, by extension, a relationship between climate change and human rights. The President’s speech was followed by a landmark address by Foreign Minister Shahid to the UN Human Rights Council in September last year where he called on the Council to debate the link between climate change and the full enjoyment of human rights.
In the spirit of this initiative, the Government hosted a conference of Small Island States in November 2007, entitled the “Human Dimension of Global Climate Change” which resulted in the Malé Declaration. The Declaration, the first of its kind in the international environmental arena, explicitly stated that \"climate change has clear and immediate implications for the full enjoyment of human rights\". Subsequent successes achieved by the Maldives include the SAARC Declaration which explicitly draws the link between climate change and the right to development.
The Resolution was submitted to the Council Secretariat with the co-sponsorship of 57 countries. Since tabling, it has received additional sponsors and the list currently stands at 61, with countries from all the geographical regions.
At the Press Conference today, Foreign Minister Shahid expressed warm appreciation to the Ambassadors and High Commissioners of the Maldives and the Diplomatic Missions abroad for the extensive work carried out by them in making the initiative a success.
 


Maldives urges European Parliament to increase international support for adaptation measures

 27 Mar: Mr Amjad Abdulla, Director General at the Maldives Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water, spoke at the European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on Climate Change.
 The hearing, entitled “How to engage other main actors - climate change, adaptation in third countries and global security” was the sixth and final thematic cycle organized by the committee since it was set up last year. The key note speech was delivered by Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 2007.
 At the hearing, Mr. Abdulla presented the vulnerability issues facing the Maldives from the impact of climate change and highlighted that the key challenge for the country would be to focus on various adaptation measures. He briefed the MEPs on existing adaptation programs in particular those on population consolidation and the development of safer islands.
 Finally, on behalf of the Government of the Maldives, Mr. Abdulla requested the assembled MEPs for their support for increasing assistance from the international community for the effective implementation of adaptation projects.
 The Maldives initiative on the Human Dimension of Global Climate change, and the progress towards achieving its objectives were also presented to the audience of MEPs.
 The Parliament’s committee has been extremely active on this subject and was indeed present at Bali for the climate change negotiations in December 2007. The Committee's final report will take note of the content of the various thematic sessions it has organized.
The invitation to speak at the Parliament was part of the program arranged for the Maldivian delegates who also met with various MEPs working on climate change as well as European Commission representatives responsible for the Global Climate Change Alliance.



Members of the European Parliament express their willingness to support Maldives adaptation efforts

27 Mar: Mr Amjad Abdulla, Director General at the Maldives Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water, and Mr Ahmed Sareer, the newly appointed chargé d’affaires at the soon to be established Maldives Mission to the European Union, have concluded two days of meetings with representatives of the European Parliament and the European Commission. Mr Patrick McMullan from the Maldives Mission also attended the meetings.
Mr Abdulla, invited to speak at the European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on Climate Change, and Mr Sareer, met with key MEPs working on this important policy area. They are Mr Guido Sacconi, Italy, Socialist Group, chair of the temporary committee on Climate Change, Ms Riitta Myller, Finland, Socialist Group coordinator on climate change, Ms Caroline Lucas, UK, Green Group coordinator on climate change, Ms Lena Ek, Sweden, Liberal Group coordinator on climate change and Ms Romana Jordan Cizelj, Slovenia, EPP/ED (centre right group), coordinator on climate change.
 MEPs designated as coordinators act as an important conduit to their respective political groups providing input on the policy area in question. The delegation also met with Ms Katrin Kowalczyk, office manager and principle researcher for MEP Mr Karl-Heinz Florenz, Germany, EPP/ED, rapporteur on climate change.
 The Maldives delegation provided an overview of adaptation issues facing the Maldives as well as presenting, and requesting political support for the Male’ declaration on the Human Dimension of Global Climate Change released last November. Efforts by the Maldives Missions to the United Nations in New York and Geneva on this issue were also shared.
 The meetings also served to note the Maldives interest in the Commission\'s Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA). All MEPs and officials that the Maldives delegation met were sympathetic to the Maldives cause and expressed their willingness to explore all possibilities of assistance towards the implementation of adaptation measures.
In addition to the meetings with the European Parliamentarians the delegation also met with Mr Walter Kennes, head of the sector responsible for the Global Climate Change Alliance at DG Development in the European Commission. The Global Climate Change Alliance was launched in September 2007 by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Development and aims to act as a link between the EU and developing countries most vulnerable to climate change, in particular the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
The Maldives interest and input into the Alliance has included the presence of the President of the Maldives, H.E. Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, at the EU Development Days event in Lisbon in November 2007, and the sending of an official letter from The Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Shahid, requesting that the Maldives be chosen as one of the initial pilot countries for the GCCA. Mr Kennes noted that a decision was expected in June.


Maldives Secures UN Resolution on Human Rights and Climate Change

28 Mar: The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution tabled by the Maldives Government on the subject of human rights and climate change. The resolution is seen as a vital stepping stone towards increased global awareness about the immediate and compelling human face of climate change. The Maldives hopes that this in-turn will enhance the moral and ethical imperative for the world’s climate change negotiators to act decisively to halt and reverse global warming.
The resolution was sponsored by seventy-five countries from all regions[1] , demonstrating the importance of the issue for millions of people around the world, as well as a common determination among the world’s governments to respond decisively to climate change and in-so-doing protect the future of vulnerable countries like the Maldives.
 The resolution calls on United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a study into the effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights. The study will then form the basis of a full Human Rights Council debate on the issue during its March 2009 Session. The conclusions of the study and the debate will be fed into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) ongoing negotiating process in order to raise political awareness about the human dimension of global warming.
 Speaking after the adoption of the resolution, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, said:
 “It is vital for the future of vulnerable countries like the Maldives that the world takes serious and meaningful steps, within the Bali Process of UNFCCC negotiations, to arrest and reverse climate change. In order to do so, the world’s climate change negotiators must possess a clear understanding of the massive impact that global warming is already having on people and communities around the world. There is no doubt that the successful adoption today of the Maldives-led resolution on human rights and climate change will make a historic contribution to the development of such understanding and empathy.
 The adoption of the resolution on human rights and climate change is the latest stage in the Maldives Government’s efforts to draw attention to the effects of climate change on human beings around the world. The initiative was launched in July 2007 by the President of the Maldives, H.E. Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, in a speech on environmental rights to the Royal Commonwealth Society in London. This speech was followed by an address to the Human Rights Council in September by Minister Shahid in which he urged the Council to take-up the issue of climate change as a matter of urgency. In November, the Maldives hosted a meeting of Small Island States to discuss the relationship between human rights and climate change; a meeting which culminated in the adoption of the Male’ Declaration on the Human Dimension of Global Climate Change. Finally, in December President Gayoom gave a keynote address to the High-Level Segment of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, which launched a 2-year process to negotiate a new global agreement on climate change.
 During the Council session today, upon presentation of the Resolution countries, including Pakistan, Japan, Sri Lankan and Bangladesh, commended the Maldives for bringing such a grave issue of present time to the Council and applauded it for the consultative approach adopted during the lead up to the final draft of the Resolution.



Thai Foreign Minister agrees to look into easing of visa requirements for Maldivians

28 Mar: The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, H. E. Mr Noppadon Pattama has agreed to look into the possibility of easing the visa requirements for Maldivians visiting Thailand. The issue was discussed during a meeting held between Foreign Minister, H.E. Mr Abdulla Shahid and the Thai Foreign Minister. The meeting took place earlier today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.
 During the meeting, Minster Shahid explained that there is a large number of Maldivians travelling to Thailand every year for medical, leisure and business purposes. He noted that a number of Maldivians face difficulties with the current arrangement of obtaining on arrival visa and stressed the importance of having an easier visa regime between the two countries to facilitate the movement of people and increased people-to-people contact between the two countries.
 Minister Pattama noted the close ties of friendship between the Maldives and Thailand and assured Minister Shahid that he will look into the possibility of easing visa for Maldivians travelling to Thailand. He also noted the increase in Thai tourists visiting the Maldives and the increase in investment by Thai companies in the tourism sector of the Maldives.
 Minister Shahid will be returning tomorrow after conclusion of a 2-day official visit to Thailand to discuss issues of bilateral significance between the Maldives and Thailand. The Minister is accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulla Hameed, High Commissioner of Maldives to Sri Lanka, Mr. Ali Hussain Didi and Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Fathmath Inaya.



The Maldives and Thailand agree to conclude a Comprehensive Framework Agreement on Cooperation between the two countries

 28 Mar: The Maldives and Thailand have agreed to conclude a Comprehensive Framework Agreement on Cooperation between the two countries. The agreement was reached during a meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, H. E Mr Abdulla Shahid and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, H. E. Mr. Noppadon Pattama. The meeting took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.
 During the meeting the two Foreign Ministers discussed ways of strengthening the close ties that exist between the two countries and ways of further increasing collaboration in areas such as trade, tourism, health, fisheries and technical cooperation. Foreign Minister Shahid also sought the possibility of increasing flights between the two countries to facilitate people-to-people contact. In this regard, the Maldives and Thailand agreed to start an annual exchange programme for High School students.
 Minister Pattama noted the close relations between the two countries and stated that Thailand would be happy to provide technical cooperation assistance to the Maldives.  He also expressed the strong support and commitment of the Thai Government to the issue of environmental protection and the Maldives-led Human Rights Council resolution on the 'human dimension of climate change.’ The Minister also expressed hope for future cooperation and collaboration in international issues.
 The call was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulla Hameed, High Commissioner of Maldives to Sri Lanka, Mr. Ali Hussain Didi and Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Fathmath Inaya.



The President hails the adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of the resolution tabled by the Maldives on climate change and human rights

Mar 29: The President hailed the adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of the resolution tabled by the Maldives on climate change and human rights. Commenting on the adoption of the resolution, he said that it was an important milestone that personified the Government’s commitment to find a speedy solution to climate change.
In an interview to BBC World Service Radio, the President recalled that the Maldives began its global climate change advocacy effects over 20 years ago and that the current focus was to emphasize the human dimension of the problem.
Highlighting that a safe environment was a fundamental human right, the President noted that the resolution would direct greater international attention towards the plight of Smaller Island States.
In February 2007, the member states of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), adopted the Male’ Declaration on the Human Dimension of Global Climate Change in male’. The President also spoke on the need to put the people back at the heart of the global climate change debate in the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, December 2007. Led by President Gayoom, the Maldives has been leading an international campaign to refocus the UN - led climate change negotiations to the importance of addressing the human impact on climate change.
 

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