The President of Malta

Speech by His Excellency George Vella on the Occasion of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law’s 10th Anniversary Celebration 2 February 2024

Executive Secretary,

Permanent Secretary,

Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,

Good morning and welcome to this auspicious occasion as we gather to commemorate the tenth-year anniversary of the International Institute of Justice and the Rule of Law.

I wish to begin by thanking Mr Steven Hill and his team for proposing this commemorative initiative and thank them for the cooperation and support extended to the Office of the President on this, and several other occasions.

I also thank those of you who travelled to Malta – some of you very long distances – to join us today.

It is truly a pleasure to stand before you on this special day, celebrating a decade of the Institute’s unwavering commitment to justice, human rights, and the rule of law.

Personally, it gives me great satisfaction to see that the IIJ membership, partnership and activities expanded in no small measure since its launch in Malta in 2014, when as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I agreed to host this prestigious Institute in Malta.

A decade ago, policymakers from various corners of the world came together to establish the International Institute of Justice and the Rule of Law.

Their goal was clear: to create a forum for exchange of good practices to counter terrorism and other transitional criminal activities within a rule of law framework in compliance with internationally recognised human rights standards.

Today, as we applaud the accomplishments of the Institute, it is fitting to acknowledge the dedicated individuals who have tirelessly worked to make this vision a reality.

My gratitude goes to the founders, the staff, and all those who in one way or another have contributed to the Institute’s success over the years.

The political background was then the disastrous fall out from the Arab Spring movement and the rise and threat from ISIS (DAESH), mostly in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East.

In this spirit, I wish to recall the fundamental role played by the late Ambassador Alfred Zarb, who as a true visionary, understood very early on that the hosting of the Institute in Malta would be a landmark on both fronts.

After making it clear that we were interested in hosting a ‘permanent’ institution and not just a temporary set up, to be moved elsewhere later – with Ambassador Abercombie-Wintstanley, Robert Strang and Reinhard Uhrig among others –  we held numerous meetings to ensure that all aspects of the Institute’s establishment in Malta are duly settled to our mutual satisfaction.

Following some weeks of all-encompassing negotiations, on behalf of the Government of Malta, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I had the pleasure of launching the IIJ on 18 June 2014 together with another 13 founding partners. 

The outstanding results achieved by the Institute since then, are not only a testament to its dedicated past and present teams but also to its multilateral vocation through the numerous partnerships forged with governments, non-governmental organizations, and other relevant institutions.

The synergy that has been created over the years is a powerful force for positive and collective change.

In today’s troubled scenario, I attach unique value to the IIJ particularly due to this multilateral nature, recognising that addressing transnational threats to our security can only be sustainably addresses through a cooperative approach.

Even more importantly, it emphasizes the understanding that no single country can effectively tackle challenges of this nature in isolation.

I am sure all of us in this hall are convinced that it is only through continued collaboration that we can overcome the multi-layered and complex challenges that lie ahead.

Nowadays, the Institute is a highly-respected hub of knowledge and innovation that transcends borders and contributes tangibly to the development and strengthening of criminal justice practitioners.

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