The People’s Majlis has passed the government-backed Foreign Services Bill with minimal revisions on Tuesday, creating a separate institution from the civil service.
The Majlis Foreign Relations Committee made some minor adjustments to the government-submitted bill after gathering input from relevant institutions.
With votes from 46 members present at Tuesday’s session, the bill was passed with committee amendments.
South-Henveyru MP Hussain Shaheem sponsored the government-backed Maldives Foreign Services Bill in June, which intends to boost the country’s foreign policy by establishing a separate foreign service organization with experienced and trained professionals to satisfy world standards for foreign diplomacy.
In addition, the Bill mandates establishing the legal structure for the institution’s hierarchy, working structure, and employee-related standards after the bill becomes law.
According to the bill, a foreign services institution must be established within 90 days of the bill becoming law, with a foreign secretary serving as its head.
The bill further states that the President of the Maldives will appoint a foreign secretary with 15 years of experience in the foreign ministry for a three-year term, with a two-term limit, on the advice of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Foreign Services Bill also requires the establishment of a foreign institute after the bill becomes law, which will be in charge of training employees for the newly constituted foreign services institution.
In addition to this, an advisory board to the foreign service would be established within 30 days of the bill becoming law, with the responsibility of consulting on ways to improve the country’s foreign policy. The five-member board would be made up of the foreign secretary, the head of the foreign institute, and three representatives from each of the three employee ranks.
The government-backed bill also includes guidelines for appointing ambassadors to the country’s diplomatic postings abroad, which state that a nominated ambassador does not have to be in the foreign service, but must offer resignation after a change of administration in such cases and is appointed for a maximum of four years for each country. If an ambassador is appointed from inside the foreign service, he or she will keep his or her post in the foreign service even if he or she resigns as an ambassador.
The legislation also contains employee organization, standards, and responsibilities, as well as procedures and laws for sending and returning employees from diplomatic missions abroad.