Ahmed Shaheed

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ahmed Shaheed
Ahmed Shaheed, Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on Iran (cropped).jpg
United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran
In office
17 June 2011 – 1 November 2016
Preceded byVacant (last held by Maurice Copithorne)
Succeeded byAsma Jahangir[1]
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives
In office
12 November 2008 – 10 December 2010 1
PresidentMohamed Nasheed
Preceded byAbdulla Shahid
Succeeded byAhmed Naseem
In office
14 July 2005 – 21 August 2007
PresidentMaumoon Abdul Gayoom
Preceded byFathulla Jameel
Succeeded byAbdulla Shahid
Personal details
Born (1964-01-27) 27 January 1964 (age 56)
Political partyMaldives Democratic Party[2]
ResidenceColchester, Essex
Alma materUniversity of Aberystwyth, (BSc)
University of Queensland, (IR)
^ Resigned from office on 24 June 2010 during the En-masse cabinet resignation. Reinstated on 7 July 2010.

Ahmed Shaheed ޝަހީދު (born January 27, 1964)[3] is a Maldivian diplomat and politician. On 24 March 2016, he was appointed for the sixth year running as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran.[4][5] Dr Shaheed is also the Chairperson of the Geneva-based international human rights think-tank, Universal Rights Group, which was launched in January 2014.[6]

Prior to his appointment as a UN envoy with the rank of Assistant Secretary General,[7] he was a Maldivian politician and human rights defender. He served as Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs from November 2008 to December 2010; previously, he had served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for two years, from 14 July 2005 until August 20, 2007.

In March 2014, while he was United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran refused him entry to the country and declared him to be an agent of both the CIA and Israel.[8]

On 13 June 2016, Shaheed was nominated by the Consultative Group of Ambassadors comprising Albania, Brazil, Egypt, France and Thailand, as the most suitable candidate to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council for the post of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, to succeed Professor Heiner Bielefeldt of Germany.[9]

Political & Diplomatic career[edit]

A career diplomat since 1982, Shaheed served as the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Maldives from 1998-2004.[10] As Permanent Secretary of Maldives, he actively lobbied to widen and deepen regional cooperation within South Asia, incorporating discussions on human rights, regional peace, and free trade into the agenda of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation, including the pursuit of a South Asian Social Charter. Prior to his appointment as Permanent Secretary, he had served, from 1997–98, as a member of the Group of South Asian Eminent Persons, appointed by the Heads of State of the South Asian region.[11] At the national level, in 2003, Shaheed also secured political approval for the creation of Maldives National Human Rights Commission,[10] which was established in November 2003, and for accession to the UN Convention against Torture, as part of the human rights-related reforms the government embarked on in late 2003.[12]

At the end of 2003, Shaheed retired from the diplomatic service and took up a position in the President's Office mandated to formulate and coordinate political and human rights reform as well as government communications, following outbreaks of civil unrest in the capital and nearby areas.[13]

In July 2005, Shaheed used his position as Government Spokesperson to reject the condemnation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the Chief Justice of the Maldives.[14] The Opposition MDP accused him of being the chief "spin doctor" for President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom while independent human rights NGOs such as Hama Jamiyya hail him as a champion of human rights.[15]

He is one of the co-founders of New Maldives, a group within the former regime who spearheaded the drive to make the Maldives a modern liberal democracy. Together with his cabinet colleague, Dr. Hassan Saeed, Shaheed is the author of the Roadmap for Reform, unveiled on 27 March 2006, identifying a raft of political and legal reforms with specific timeframes.[16] Shaheed is also the founder of the Open Society Association dedicated to the promotion of human rights, tolerance, and democracy.[13]

Although a very high-profile sponsor of the DRP, he was defeated in his bid to win the Vice Presidency of the Party in April 2006.

After resigning from the Cabinet, Shaheed and Saeed claimed to have faced intimidation and harassment as they actively lobbied against the regime,[17] including by contesting in the presidential elections, with duo missing on the run-off by finishing third in the first round of elections.[10] However, their campaigning against the Gayoom regime was instrumental in forcing a free and fair election.[18][19] Shaheed offered "unconditional support" for the candidature of the opposition candidate, Mohamed Nasheed, in the run-off, and was appointed as his Foreign Minister when the latter won the presidency in October 2008.[10]

Human rights advocacy[edit]

While inaugurating a workshop conducted by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in March 2007, Dr. Shaheed took credit for all the steps taken by the Maldives to subscribe to the core international human rights treaties, including treaties that allowed Maldivians to petition the UN treaty bodies. He also claimed credit for the establishment of the Maldives Human Rights Commission in accordance with the Paris Principles.[20] Shaheed had come under strident criticism for his advocacy of international human rights norms, such as extending standing invitations to United Nations Human Rights special mandates to visit Maldives and hosting of a UN Human Rights Advisor in Maldives. Shaheed's advocacy of an open society and strong anti-corruption measures were vehemently opposed by the President's brother, Abdulla Yameen and his supporters who mounted a series of motions of censure against Shaheed in parliament July–August 2007.[21][22]


On August 21, 2007, Shaheed resigned as Foreign Minister ahead of a second due motion of no-confidence against him tabled in the Majlis, which followed criticism of the Majlis by Shaheed, who said that it had failed the people.[23][24] Shaheed said that "a conservative guard within the parliament and cabinet" was resisting reform.[24]

His resignation followed his open criticism of the parliament for having failed to protect the fundamental rights of the people and for being a rubber stamp to sustain the 30-year-old rule of President Gayoom. In his resignation statement, he called on the President to step down voluntarily and expressed frustration over the slow pace of the reform program.[25] Writing in 2012, well-known international human rights activist and Deputy Chairman of the UK Conservative Party's Human Rights Commission, Benedict Rogers had described Shaheed as "the lead reformer" in the Maldives.[26]


After Gayoom was defeated in the October 2008 presidential election, his successor, Mohamed Nasheed, reappointed Shaheed as Foreign Minister in November 2008. His second stint as Foreign Minister was no less controversial than the first, coming under fire from the parliament and radical Islamist parties for recognition of Kosovo as an independent State,[27] the development of cooperation with Israel[28] and the participation in the US programme to close down Guantanamo Bay detention facility by agreeing to relocate persons released from Gitmo.[29] An advocate of close security ties with India, he was also widely criticized by pro-Pakistani Islamist elements.[30] As Foreign Minister, Shaheed had also agreed to a moratorium on corporal punishment, including flogging, and to protect LGBT community in Maldives against discrimination, during the universal periodic review of Maldives held in Geneva on 3 November 2010.[31] Amnesty International's Annual Report in 2011 described Dr Shaheed as the "leading human rights defender" in the Maldives.[32]

International career[edit]

In May 2010, Maldives was elected to the UN Human Rights Council, securing the highest number of votes ever gained by a country.[33] Earlier, from 1997-1998, Shaheed had served as a member of the Group of Eminent Persons mandated by the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, comprising Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka,[11] while from 2009-2010 he served on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group mandated to oversee the protection of democratic values and human rights in the 54 member association of former British colonies.[34]

In June 17, 2011 Shaheed was appointed as special rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. However, for the first time since 2011, the Maldives, with Abdulla Yameen as President, refused to back Shaheed's re-appointment in 2014 as UN envoy, despite public appeals from Iranian civil society.[35] From 2010-2012, Shaheed had been the lead investigator of an alleged 800 million dollar fraud by current President Yameen,[36] filing court cases in Singapore High Court through the UK fraud investigator Grant Thornton and Singapore solicitors Rajah and Tan.[37] In September 2013, he stirred considerable animosity from President Yameen when he called for international intervention to facilitate presidential elections[38] when the first round was nullified by the Supreme Court of Maldives.[39] On 23 March 2016, the Human Rights Council voted to extend Dr Shaheed's UN mandate to investigate human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a 6th year, again without the support of his country, the Maldives.[40] The Maldives' failure to support Dr Shaheed this time was explained by a leading government MP as based on his opposition to the re-introduction of the death penalty in the Maldives after a 63-year-old moratorium.[41][42]

Living in self-imposed exile since the coup d'état of February 2012, Shaheed has been a vociferous campaigner for the restoration of democracy and for advancement of human rights in Maldives.[43] He has also been active on the international stage advocating human rights protection in Islamic societies, supporting freedom of religion and the abolition of the death penalty. [44] The official newspaper of the Islamist party in Maldives declared in February that Shaheed was the foremost apostate in Maldives.[45][46] In April 2013, Shaheed was a Guest of Honour at the launch of the launch of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2012 Human Rights and Democracy Report.[47]

In September 2012, Shaheed joined the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex as a visiting professor.[48] He teaches human rights, Islam and diplomacy.[28][49] He is also a Visiting Professor at the City University of New York.[50]

In August 2015, The Guardian reported Iran uses fabricated WikiLeaks cable to smear UN rights rapporteur.[51][52] It said "Iranian articles claimed that the Saudi embassy in Kuwait had paid the UN envoy $1m to take an anti-Iran position.

Awards and Honours[edit]

On 5 May 2009, the Washington-based think-tank, Centre for the Study of Islam and Democracy conferred their annual Muslim Democrat of the Year Award to Shaheed. The citation for the award read that it was being given to Shaheed in recognition of his "role in building democracy and preserving it in the face of hardship, for promoting tolerance and harmony, and for opening a window into a century of reason, freedom, human rights and democracy in the Maldives and in South Asia."[53]

On 4 November 2010, the President of Albania awarded him the Presidential Medal of Gratitude for his contribution to the promotion of peace in the Balkans.[54]

On 3 November 2015, Dr Shaheed, along with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was a recipient of the Global Leadership Awards for advancing human rights.[55] As the recipient of the prestigious Leo Nevas Human Rights Award, Dr Shaheed's citation read: “For a lifetime of achievement effectively advancing human rights in his own country and abroad, through citizen action, governmental support for that action, and through the United Nations. For his personal courage and conviction and his steadfast support for human rights for all.”[56]

Personal life[edit]

Shaheed was educated at the University of Aberystwyth, UK before he obtained his PhD in International Relations at the University of Queensland, Australia. He now lives in England, as Visiting Professor of Human Rights Practice at the University of Essex.[57][58]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Appointment of UN special rapporteur unacceptable: Larijani". 4 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maldives". Foreign.gov.mv. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  3. ^ "Index Sh-Sl". www.rulers.org.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Iran denounces re-appointment of UN special rapporteur on human rights situation_XinHua - Asia Pacific Daily – Breaking News, Asia Pacific, World, China, Business, Lifestyle, Travel, Special Report, Video, Photo…". en.apdnews.com. Archived from the original on 2016-08-14. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  6. ^ "Press Archives - Universal Rights Group". Universal Rights Group. Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  7. ^ "Directory of Special Procedures Mandate Holders" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  8. ^ "MP refers to Ahmed Shaheed as Zionist, CIA agent".
  9. ^ "OHCHR - Appointments to be made at HRC32". www.ohchr.org. Archived from the original on 2016-07-13. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  10. ^ a b c d "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2014-04-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ a b http://www.fesnepal.org/reports/2006/seminar_reports/SAARC%202015.pdf Archived 2013-12-06 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Aminath, Didi (6 September 2017). "The Maldives in transition : human rights and voices of dissent" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  13. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2014-04-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Hill & Knowlton Still Spinning For The Government". 25 February 2008. Archived from the original on 25 February 2008.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2014-04-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "The longest-serving leader in Asia fights for a seventh term". 25 October 2007.
  18. ^ "News - Sunday Island". www.island.lk.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2014-04-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2014-04-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Koimalaa Archived 2007-10-11 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Ahmad Shahid in an interview with Bamdadkhabar: I hope Iran becomes more open". BamdadKhabar - بامدادخبر. 1 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  23. ^ "Maldivian foreign minister resigns, citing argument with Parliament", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), August 21, 2007.
  24. ^ a b "Maldives foreign minister quits", BBC News, August 21, 2007.
  25. ^ Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Thomson Reuters Foundation | News, Information and Connections for Action". Alertnet.org. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  26. ^ "Benedict Rogers: Democracy against dictatorship and Islamism in the Maldives – it cannot be in our interests to betray our friends and our values - Conservative Home".
  27. ^ "Cablegate: Maldives to Submit a Kosovo Brief to Icj - Scoop News". www.scoop.co.nz.
  28. ^ a b "University of Essex". www.essex.ac.uk.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Maldives". undocs.org. United Nations. 4 January 2011. A/HRC/16/7. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Annual Report: Maldives 2011".
  33. ^ "Maldives gets highest number of votes for Human Rights Council - UN W…". archive.is. 2014-03-31. Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-03-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-02. Retrieved 2018-10-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  37. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  38. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ Section, United Nations News Service (30 October 2013). "UN News - Maldives Supreme Court undermining democratic process – UN rights chief". UN News Service Section.
  40. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-24. Retrieved 2016-03-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  41. ^ [2][permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "Haveeru Online - Shaheed ah raajjeyge vote nulibunee islam dheenaa dhekolhu hadhaathy : Riyaz". 2016-03-30. Archived from the original on 2016-03-30. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  43. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  44. ^ "International Efforts to promote and protect Freedom of Religion: Where can the United Nations play an effective role?" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-02-12.
  45. ^ Mohamed Saud 🇲🇻 [@mohamedsaud] (18 February 2013). "Dr. Shaheed akee aramun anna enme faalhukan bodu LAADHEENEE THARI KAMAH Dhiislam Daily bunefi" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  46. ^ "Mohamed Saud 🇲🇻, 17 February 2013".[permanent dead link]
  47. ^ "Human Rights and Democracy Report launch - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk.
  48. ^ "University of Essex :: Latest news :: UN Special Rapporteur joins the University :: Colchester Campus". Essex.ac.uk. 2012-09-21. Archived from the original on 2013-06-12. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  49. ^ "University of Essex". www.essex.ac.uk.
  50. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  51. ^ "Iran uses fabricated WikiLeaks cable to smear UN rights rapporteur | World news | The Guardian". Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  52. ^ "Iran Forged Documents To Smear UN Human Rights Investigator | The Tower". Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  53. ^ "Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maldives". Foreign.gov.mv. Archived from the original on 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  54. ^ "Academic Staff - Human Rights Centre - University of Essex". www.essex.ac.uk.
  55. ^ "Global Leadership Awards Dinner to Recognize Leaders Working Alongside the United Nations to Advance Human Rights and Global Health". United Nations Foundation. Archived from the original on 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  56. ^ "UN Human Rights Award for former Maldivian Foreign Minister - The Sunday Times Sri Lanka". www.sundaytimes.lk.
  57. ^ "ahmed shaheed (ahmedshaheed) on Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  58. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2012-12-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]