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Maldives - Foreign Relations

The Maldives believes that its security and the respect for its national sovereigntywould be enhanced by working towards strengthening and promoting international law; regional and international stability, peace, and security; and the multilateral system. Maldives follows a nonaligned policy and is committed to maintaining friendly relations with all countries.

The Maldives is perhaps one of the few countries that still does not have a professional career foreign service. Without a professional cadre, the Maldives is unable to produce high calibre professional diplomats, and accumulate experience in the system. In order to effectively carry out the foreign policy objectives as envisioned in this plan, the foreign service must function as a professional body. The Government is committed to upgrade its legal framework, strengthen its institutional capacity as well as enhance its administrative, coordination and monitoring mechanisms.

A modern, efficient foreign service is essential for protecting and promoting the country's interests abroad. The Maldives presently maintains six missions abroad in Colombo, Delhi, London, New York, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and will open new posts in Beijing, Riyadh, Washington, and Brussels in 2007.

The foreign policy of the Maldives has received the respect of the international community. There is a need to strengthen and clearly articulate strategic objectives and targets of the Maldives Foreign policy. In addition the Government aims to continue it's work to strengthen the diplomatic machinery and foreign service training in order to promote Maldives' interests and meet the challenges of globalisation.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Maldives retains diplomatic relations with 135 countries, and maintains 13 resident missions in Bangladesh, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Nations (Geneva), the United Nations (New York) and the United Kingdom.

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, and Sri Lanka maintain resident embassies in Male. Denmark, Norway, the U.K., Germany, Turkey, and Sweden have consular agencies in Male under the supervision of their embassies in Sri Lanka and India. The UNDP has a representative resident in Male, who serves as the UN Resident Coordinator, as do the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Like the U.S., many countries have nonresident ambassadors accredited to the Maldives, most of them based in Sri Lanka or India.

Following Independence, Maldives joined the United Nations (UN) in 1965, the Commonwealth of Nations in 1982, and became a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985. Maldives later became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in 2005 and the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 2009. By 2012 Maldives was a member of 63 international organizations.

As a nation committed to the core Commonwealth principles, Maldives regards the Commonwealth as an invaluable platform to engage with an international community of like-minded states on the important issues facing the global community. Maldives became a special member of the Commonwealth on 9 July 1982, and full membership followed three years later on 20 June 1985. Since joining the Commonwealth, Maldives has been an active participant in all of the Commonwealths activities. In 1982 Maldives attended its first Commonwealth summit (Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting in Suva, Fiji), and since then Maldives has participated in all subsequent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGMs), and numerous meetings on topics such as Education, Finance, Health, Law, Womens Affairs, and Youth Affairs. In 1992, Maldives hosted the First Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting.

Maldives is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). In 2010, Maldives was elected to a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, and in November 2011 Maldives hosted the 17th annual South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.

The Maldives believes that promoting greater regional cooperation in South Asia is the only viable means of promoting peace and stability in South Asia. As a founding member of SAARC, the Maldives would work towards consolidating the gains made in regional cooperation, and work towards embarking on new projects that would promote greater trust and mutual respect within the countries in the region.

Former President Nasheed's consensus-building among smaller island nations brought global attention to Maldives at the December 2009 United Nations climate change conference. In March 2010, Maldives hosted a donor forum that yielded $313 million in pledges to the country from multilateral development banks, the European Union, and many nations including the US.

The Maldives' 1964 Constitution defines the Republic as "the Islands and the sea and air surrounding and in between Latitudes 710-1/4' (North) and 045-1/2' (South) and longitudes (East) 7229-1/4' and 7349'." On February 24, 1969, the Maldives created an exclusive fishing zone that paralleled the above rectangle at a distance of approximately 100 miles. On December 30, 1970, the Maldives passed Bill No. 52/70, "The Territorial Water Limits and Fishing Territory." The effect of this law was to revise slightly the outer limits of the fishing zone but to confuse the issue by joining the territorial sea and fishing zone into one defined area. The 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention) contains certain provisions related to Archipelagic States. Article 47 sets out criteria to which States must adhere when establishing archipelagic straight baselines. Article 47.2 of the LOS Convention provides that the length of the baselines shall not exceed 100 miles, except that up to 3 per cent of the total number of baseline segments enclosing any archipelago may exceed that length, up to a maximum length of 125 miles. The Maldives archipelagic straight baseline system is composed of 37 segments, permitting only one segment to be over 100 miles long. However, three baseline segments exceed 100 miles in length (segments14-15, 28-29 and 36-37). Therefore, the Maldives does not meet this requirement of Article 47.2 of the LOS Convention.

Legal amendments had allowed both Saudi Arabian and Chinese companies to acquire Maldivian atolls (island groups). Protests over reported Saudi plans to spend $10 billion for the Faafu atoll are understood to have forced Saudi King Salman to cancel his visit to the Maldives in March 2017. President Yameens government had said categorically that No atolls are being sold claiming that the investment in the Faafu Atoll was part of a major, multibillion dollar investment project encompassing mixed development, residential and high class development, and several tourist resorts and airports.

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Page last modified: 26-03-2017 19:18:18 ZULU