The President of Malta, George Vella, held a meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, who highly commended Malta on the work it is conducting at the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member. He referred in particular to the way in which the Maltese Presidency of the Security Council, which was spread over the month of February, managed to address very sensitive dossiers with great success. The war in Ukraine and its effects on global affairs were a central theme of the talks. Stability in the Mediterranean was raised, with a specific focus on Libya. An exchange of views was also held on the Middle East Peace Process in light of the recent worrying escalation on the ground.
On Tuesday morning, President Vella delivered a speech during an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict organised by the Swiss Presidency of the United Nations Security Council. The President pointed out that the lives of millions of civilians worldwide continue to be “impaired by a multitude of crises”, including conflict-induced hunger, targeted violence, displacement, and climate change. “From the Central African Republic to Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Ethiopia, the correlation between conflict and hunger is evident”, said the President.
Reference was also made to the ongoing crises and complex humanitarian emergencies in various parts of the globe, with President Vella stating that the UN Security Council must safeguard the protection of civilians and sustain humanitarian access and support. “Arbitrary, discriminatory, and bureaucratic impediments that hinder the rapid delivery of aid that is vital are unacceptable, as without timely humanitarian access, there can be no meaningful humanitarian response”, stated the President while welcoming the recent adoption of Resolution 2664, which provides for a humanitarian exemption for all UN sanctions regimes. The President reiterated Malta’s position that “civilians are not and should never be a target. Humanitarian workers, helpers, and volunteers who aid them are not targets. Objects and services indispensable to the survival of civilian populations are not targets. These distinctions are clear. Never can it be said that we did not know.”
President Vella urged an increase in funding for humanitarian responses. “Besides, we must avoid seeing arms and ammunition continuously arriving in conflict zones while civilians in these zones are threatened by hunger, if not death, because humanitarian convoys cannot reach them. The pain and cries of so many men, women, and children must be heard and heeded. The world relies on the work and leadership of this Council to protect the most vulnerable from harm, suffering, or worse,” concluded the President.
Following the open debate, President Vella held separate bilateral meetings with Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation; Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment in the United Arab Emirates; and Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, President of the International Committee of the Red Crisis (ICRC).
In New York, President Vella also held a bilateral meeting with Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique. They discussed possible avenues of cooperation in the fields of investment, education, maritime matters, and tourism. The two interlocutors also exchanged views on stability in Africa and migration-related issues.
The President was accompanied by the Minister for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms, and Equality, Byron Camilleri; the Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations, Vanessa Frazier; the Secretary to the Presidency, Rosette Spiteri Cachia; and Ambassadors Helga Mizzi and Olaf Terribile.