“We need to be much more vocal and determined to eradicate the flow and sale of armaments and ammunition as they continue to fuel and sustain regional conflicts and larger wars,” warned President of Malta George Vella during his address to the Oxford Union, which this year is commemorating its Bicentenary.
President Vella expressed his great concern about the “exorbitant expenditure” on instruments of war and destruction, especially when comparing it with what is invested in food and energy security, the preservation of the global environment, and actions to combat climate change.
In his speech, the President raised a number of thought-provoking aspects of the present state of international affairs. He said that, constitutionally, Malta is a neutral state actively pursuing peace, security, and social progress among all nations. “That is our vocation,” President Vella said, whilst commending what Malta is trying to achieve as a non-elected member of the United Nations Security Council for the current term 2023-2024.
“Against a paralysing impasse, Malta took it upon itself to propose a text that would unblock a devastating humanitarian scenario. It took five whole weeks for the Security Council to take action by adopting Resolution 2712 to address daily horrors that unfolded since 7 October,” remarked President Vella, who expressed his concern that the international community, represented at the highest level, has taken over a month to react. Nowadays, President Vella said, no one even wants to mention peace. On the contrary, those who do are branded as wishful thinkers, weak, and, worse, as naïve.
The President noted that despite all the good intentions, the international community has learned very little from past wars and conflicts, especially in the art of peacemaking and peacekeeping. “We are back with a war on European soil, a devastating conflict in the Middle East, and a multilateral system that is constantly being put to the test. We have a disastrous situation of coups and civil wars in the Sahel region, not forgetting the recent war in Yemen and Syria.” The President emphasised that the solutions lie in diplomacy and negotiations, which are the basic tenants of any functioning multilateral system.
Referring to the Mediterranean region, the President said that the international community has failed over and over again to recognise the urgency of tensions in the Mediterranean.
Prior to a fireside chat with the President of the Oxford Union and a Q&A session with its members, the President urged the students to stand up for what they believe is fair, even if this means rowing against the current. “Do not dilute your convictions in what is right or wrong and invest your youth, your enthusiasm, your brains, and your freedom to improving lives and addressing challenges, present, and future,” concluded the President.