UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Andrew Cox, Heads of Agencies, Members of the UN Family.

I thank you all for inviting me to this event marking this year’s UN Day.

I would like to congratulate and convey my best wishes to the Secretary General and all members of the United Nations family.

Maldives joined the United Nations just 25 days after its independence on 21 September 1965 and is one of the earliest Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to join the United Nations.

On the 45th Anniversary of our joining the United Nations, on 21 September this year, I was fortunate to address the United Nations General Assembly. I was able to report to the UNGA, the achievements and challenges facing Maldives in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

We have come a long ways from that September 45 years ago in New York when the UN Security Council debated on the viability of small member states and whether smaller states like the Maldives and Singapore could contribute effectively to the objectives of the United Nations.

Throughout the years, our foreign policy practice has always sought to maintain and promote the core values of respect and understanding in the peaceful resolution of all major disputes.

Our achievements in reaching the MDGs has placed us on the road to become a Middle Income Country starting next year.

Every succcessful achievement throws new challenges in the path. Becoming a MIC poses its own issues related to resource mobilisation and development priorities. We will no longer be eligible to some of the grant funding that we received previously. At the same time, we face new developmental challenges and priorities which include social protection and climate change.

The transition to a democratic system had begun with the adoption of the new constitution, the establishement of new democratic institutions and the holding of free and fair elections. None of these achievements would have been possible without the support of the United Nations.

The path to democracy and development are fraught with risks and challenges. Similarly, in the development of democracy and civil society, competitive politics, free elections and guaranteed human rights have produced a coalition government and a parliament controlled by the opposition. The real test of our democracy would be for all of us, government and opposition alike to overcome partisan divisions and work in the best interests of the pople and the nation.

Today, the achievement or non achievement of the remaining MDGs, the consolidation of democracy, the establishment of a safe and protective environment for the most vulnerable of our citizens, and the creation of a modern liberal Islamic state are all being articulated by the competing powerful forces in the political, economic and social arenas. The challenge remains for the international community and friends of Maldives to stay engaged, focused and committed to prevent breakdown and to smoothen these transitions.

We are happy to note, that the General Assembly adopted a resolution entitled “smooth transition strategy for countries graduating from the list of least developed countries”, promising the graduating countries of a smooth transition strategy. All the graduating LDCs would now be eligible for this smooth transition strategy.

However, there is no alternative to a strong civil society and national institutions. We are satisfied that the new UN Development Framework reflects the priorities in the National Strategic Action Plan.

In my statement to the UN General Assembly I called for a special status for the SIDS and to establish specific indicators for monitoring their development. Perhaps we could begin to show the way to other SIDS by starting this work here in the Maldives. This will require us to develop additional indicators of vulnerability due to our small size coupled with extreme vulnerability to climate change.

The increased frequency of natural disasters globally and the tangible effects of Climate Change at home is felt in the every day lives of the Maldivian people. One of the key contributions by the Maldives on environmental and climate change front has been the creation of the “Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)”, by the historic Small States Conference on Sea Level Rise in Male’, Maldives on 1989. Today, AOSIS is at the forefront of the environmental diplomacy and climate change negotiations.

The Maldives is concerned that climate change poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world and furthermore poses serious implications for the full enjoyment of our basic human rights. Climate change requires more enhanced global governance mechanisms. We need increased engagement of the UN in fast-tracking the UNFCCC and getting a legally binding agreement on emissions reductions. At present the UNFCCC processes seems to have slowed down and this has contributed towards undermining the confidence of the global public in the institutions of multilateralism.

The Maldives believes that it possess the political will and the capacity to be an important partner within the international community. Our government shall steadfastly continue in promoting internationalism and multilateralism as the fundamental cornerstones of our international outlook.

I am confident that the Maldives shall remain committed to and engaged in further strengthening the United Nations system so that together we can address all challenges, present and future, and build a better world. Congratulations and felicitations to the United Nations family on this happy occasion.