Malta’s initiatives at the United Nations

Malta’s initiatives at the United Nations

Produced By Kimberly Zammit (Second Secretary) and Michela Zammit (Counsellor)., Date: Aug 07, 2020

Malta has been a member of the United Nations (UN), since the 1st Dece​mber 1964. As a proud and active participant within the United Nations Malta fully recognises the importance of having a rules-based multilateral system with the UN at its core. Malta continues to uphold the importance of promoting international cooperation, firm in the belief that global problems require global solutions which can only be achieved through active collaboration and dialogue. As history has shown, and as indeed we are witnessing today with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to revitalise and refocus our efforts through multilateral endeavours and international cooperation. Only in this way can we secure lasting solutions to the world’s ongoing challenges and problems.

At a time when one of the greatest global challenges is the eradication of poverty, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and harnessing the potential they represent is beyond the reach of any single country, irrespective of size and prowess. Malta has registered progress in a good number of sustainable development targets. Data published in the 2020 SDG Index and Dashboards Report places Malta in the 32nd place, out of 166 countries. This is a recognition of our collective actions in the drive to mainstream sustainability.

Throughout the years, Malta has taken numerous initiatives towards contributing to dialogue on various issues at the UN, from efforts towards the Law of the Sea and Ocean Governance, to Climate Change and Ageing.

  • Law of the Sea and Ocean Governance

In October 1967 Malta had asked for an agenda item at the General Assembly (GA) on the ‘Examination of the Question of the Reservation Exclusively for Peaceful Purposes of the Sea Bed and Ocean Floor and the Sub-soil thereof, underlying the High Seas beyond the Limits of Present National Jurisdiction, and their use of Resources in the Interests of Mankind’. 1st November 2017 marked 50 years since Dr Pardo’s speech at the UN General Assembly which was subsequently carried through a UNGA Resolution on the Common Heritage of Mankind. Dr. Pardo’s speech set in motion a 15-year process which culminated in the adoption of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Malta thus introduced the notion of the seabed and ocean being the common heritage of mankind to be used and exploited for peaceful purposes and for the exclusive benefit of mankind as a whole. A few years later, Malta became the host of the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI). The current Vice-President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) Professor David J. Attard has been the Director of IMLI since 1992. Malta is a keen advocate towards an integrated approach to the problems of ocean space. To this end, together with the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, it hosted the first Ocean Ambassadors meeting on 2 August 2019 which brought together representatives of the UN, the EU and the Commonwealth along with other international bodies and organisations which are active on the oceans, as well as representatives of states who are leading or hosting major initiatives on the oceans.

  • Ageing

Malta was the first to raise the question of Ageing as a matter of international concern at the United Nations in 1968. Eventually in 1979 the General Assembly agreed to call a World Assembly on Ageing in 1982. The UN Economic and Social Council, by its Resolution 1987/41 recommended to the UN Secretary-General the establishment of the International Institute on Ageing (INIA). Thus, on 9 October 1987, the UN signed an official agreement with the Government of Malta to establish the International Institute on Ageing as an autonomous body under the auspices of the United Nations. The Institute was inaugurated on 15 April 1988 by then UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

  • Climate Change

With regards to climate change, in 1988, Malta was the first country to formally table the issue of climate change as a political agenda item during the 43rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. This resulted in the unanimous adoption by the General Assembly, on 6 December 1988, of a Resolution on the “Protection of Global Climate for Present and Future Generations of Mankind”. Since that initiative, Malta has played a dynamic role in ensuring that climate change would remain a matter of high-level attention for the international community. In 2015, Malta played an important role in securing consensus in the run up to the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Malta believes that Climate Change is a decisive global challenge, which, if not urgently managed, will put at risk not only the environment but also world economic prosperity, development and, more broadly, stability and security.

Over the years Malta has also sought to actively participate within the UN’s different bodies, confident in the belief that the country has the potential to contribute to the valuable work that the organisation is doing and is committed to the values for what the institution stands. Currently, Malta is seeking to be elected on the United Nations Security Council as an elected member between 2023 and 2024, if successful this will be Malta’s second time serving on this esteemed Council.

Looking ahead, Malta supports the work being carried out by the Secretary-General to reform the organisation, which this year celebrated its 75th Anniversary. Like any other organisation, the UN needs to continuously evolve and adapt in order to remain effective and responsive to new challenges. Often there has been criticism directed at the UN, and some of its more important organs, which have not functioned as originally foreseen by their creators immediately after World War II. We believe that a process of renewal and reform will bring about the necessary changes to ensure that the United Nations can continue to lead with authority and to ensure that the ultimate aims to serve, support and protect are achieved and maintained. As a small EU Member State Malta strongly believes that its national interest lies in  ensuring the sustainability of the multilateral system, with the UN at its core and supporting multilateral initiatives towards the maintaining of international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and strengthening international cooperation.