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'Even small nations have a voice': President Solih addresses UNGA

Ahmed Aiham
25 September 2019, MVT 09:43
"Maldives represents a remarkable story. It is a story of second chances, a story of people power, a story of how we as a nation, managed to reverse a downward spiral towards autocratic rule." PHOTO: PRESIDENT'S OFFICE
Ahmed Aiham
25 September 2019, MVT 09:43

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, addressed the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in New York City, United States of America, on Tuesday.

As the first Maldivian Head of State to address the UNGA in the past seven years, President Solih claimed that "the promise of democracy, enshrined in the principle of self-determination on which this organization was found, is in retreat".

"Which is why the world needs the United Nations now more than ever".

"It was borne out of a belief in the sanctity of human freedom and of self-determination, which means even small nations have a voice on the global stage", said the President.

Noting the recent changes within the Maldivian political arena, President Solih iterated that Maldives "managed to reverse a downward spiral towards autocratic rule", in reference to his victory over former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who assumed power following mass unrest and subsequent resignation of the then-president Mohamed Nasheed.

"The judiciary was hijacked, parliament brought to a standstill, institutions of state co-opted and the press gagged. Political opponents were constantly threatened and opposition leaders either jailed or exiled".

Addressing the global concern over climate change, he stated that "the climate crisis looms ever larger, heightened by our collective inability to address it".

In addition, President Solih revealed his administration's decision to ween out single-use plastic by 2023, which he described as "one of the most far-reaching and ambitious plastic phase-out plans of any nation on Earth".

Furthermore, he stated that Maldives will be joining the 'Blue Prosperity Coalition' and implement a blue economy plan which includes measures to protect, conserve and sustain marine protected areas across the displaced country.

"While the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was a breakthrough for what we could collectively achieve, so much more needs to be done".

Highlighting the growing threat of religious extremism in the country, President Solih said "the danger of these networks spilling over our borders is all too real. What is required is concerted global action".

"This involves everything from intelligence sharing, counterterrorism training and best practice sharing, as well as reforming our financial system to starve terrorist networks of finance."

Concluding his speech, the president assured that Maldives will "continue to partner with our many international friends with a renewed spirit of openness and engagement so that together we can overcome obstacles and effectively resolve our common challenges".

His departure to the UNGA commemorates the 54th anniversary of the country becoming a member of the world body as Maldives joined the UN family on September 21, 1965, in under two months after it first gained independence.

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