President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ratified the Maldives Foreign Service Act (Act no: 20/2021) on Sunday, establishing foreign service as a separate entity from civil service.
Hussain Shaheem, Majlis member for South Henveyru, introduced the government-sponsored Act bill to the People’s Majlis, which was passed on October 27.
The Act seeks to strengthen the country’s foreign policy by establishing a distinct foreign service entity comprised of experienced and qualified individuals to meet global standards for international diplomacy.
In addition, it also mandates establishing the legal structure for the institution’s hierarchy, working structure, and employee-related standards after the bill becomes law.
According to the Act, a foreign services institution must be established within 90 days of the bill becoming law, with a foreign secretary serving as its head.
The Act 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 Act 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 Act 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.
Furthermore, it contains employee organization, standards, and responsibilities, as well as procedures and laws for sending and returning employees from diplomatic missions abroad.