Third Committee of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Intervention on Agenda Item 68b: Extreme Poverty and Human Rights: The Social Protection Floor

by Ms. Shiruzimath Sameer, Representative of the Maldives Delegation

New York, 24 October 2014

Thank you, Madam Chair.

We are privileged to have this opportunity to address the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, and to voice our support for his message.
Poverty eradication is indeed a matter of human rights. We join the call of the Special Rapporteur for the universal implementation of a social protection floor, to guarantee basic economic and social rights for all people; and we support the inclusion of a goal on social protection floors in the post-2015 development agenda. The Maldives was among the first countries to participate in the United Nations Social Protection Floor Initiative , and we assure the Special Rapporteur that we are doing our part.

As a small island developing state experiencing the real and immediate impacts of climate change, as a recently graduated middle-income country, and as a young democracy, the Maldives is making progress towards development in spite of the obstacles that lie on this path. Our priority in this transition is building better lives for the people who are worst off.
In fact; the Maldives has eradicated extreme poverty.  The Government passed the Social Protection Act into law in December last year, as the final piece in a suite of legislation designed to empower the poor and vulnerable. Now, all Maldivians enjoy healthcare, social health insurance, and pensions; those in a state of high vulnerability and poverty are entitled to monthly income support; and low-income families receive Government assistance to obtain school materials, medical treatment and disability care.

Despite the Maldives' impressive progress, climate change threatens to push vulnerable Maldivians under the poverty line. Total poverty eradication in our country will be impossible without climate resilience. I ask the Special Rapporteur, how can social protection be more effectively integrated into the climate adaptation agenda? Further, I would like to hear more from the Special Rapporteur on the question of international support, as raised in his report. Given that climate change is a global phenomenon that is disproportionately affecting the people of Small Island Developing States and driving them to poverty, how could the burden of implementing social protection floors be more equitably shared between nations?