Minister Shahid highlights vulnerabilities faced by Small Island Developing States and calls for unity, at the Online Summit level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Contact Group in response to COVID-19

Minister Shahid highlights vulnerabilities faced by Small Is ... Image 1


04 May 2020

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, participated in the Online Summit level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group in response to the COVID-19 pandemic today, via videoconference. Minister Shahid represented the Maldives at the Summit on behalf of His Excellency Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of the Republic of Maldives.

The Online Summit was convened under the chairmanship of the President of Azerbaijan, H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, and held under the theme “United against COVID-19”. It brought together heads of state and government, ministers of foreign affairs and other senior officials of Member States, Observer States and Observer Organisations of NAM to assess the impact of COVID-19, identify the needs of Member States and prescribe possible remedies and action-oriented follow-up measures. The Online Summit also promoted the values of multilateralism in ensuring concerted and adequate responses to the challenges posed by the current health and economic crisis.

In his statement, Minister Shahid elaborated on the steps taken by the Government of Maldives in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the devastating effects the virus has had on the Maldivian economy. Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including the Maldives, are inherently vulnerable to external shocks and often rely on a single industry for national income. Hence, the Maldives will suffer a major loss in income due to the global shutdown of tourism resulting in a huge revenue gap for the year 2020.

In this regard, Minister Shahid called on the Non-Aligned Movement to draw international attention towards the vulnerabilities of its smaller members, particularly by highlighting the need for a moratorium on debt which is detrimental to achieving sustainable development. He reaffirmed that the smaller members of NAM rely on the Movement to mobilise support and call for long-term action from larger states. Furthermore, while highlighting the importance of strengthened cooperation during times of adversity, Minister Shahid expressed gratitude towards Maldives’ development partners, especially those from the South Asia region, for the their support in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Shahid also pledged Maldives’ support for NAM’s decision to establish the Non-Aligned Movement Task Force to combat COVID-19, a key outcome of the Summit. The NAM Task Force will act as a conduit for Member States to submit their basic humanitarian and medical needs which will then be shared with donor countries, international organisations and private entities to mobilise support and assistance. He further pledged extended Maldives’ support for the World Health Organization (WHO) in leading the global public health response, as well as other international and regional organisations. In concluding, Minister Shahid emphasised that the world will prevail only by working together in cooperation with all partners and stakeholders, and called for a unified response to the pandemic.

The Non-Aligned Movement comprises of 120 Member States, and is one of the largest international organisations after the United Nations. The Maldives joined NAM on 15 August 1976 and has been an active member of the organisation.