THE HON. DR. JOE BORG
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
FIFTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
UNITED NATIONS - NEW YORK
12 NOVEMBER 2001
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Allow me to begin by
expressing my congratulations on your election as President of the General
Assembly. This 56th Session is clearly going to be a challenging one, and one
that I augur will further strengthen this Assembly's resolve to work hand in
hand on all the different issues requiring our attention. At the same time I
would like to express my appreciation to H.E. Mr. Harry Holkeri for the
determined and skilful manner in which he presided over the previous
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the
United Nations, and its tireless Secretary General, for the Nobel Peace Prize
that they have jointly, and so well-deservedly, been awarded.
This Session started in a markedly different manner to that of
previous years. The horrendous September 11th terrorist attacks brought home the
very real threat of terrorism to each and every one of us - no matter what
corner of the world we inhabit. International terrorism does not limit its
actions to individual countries. In fact, although the attacks were launched on
US soil, the specific targets chosen clearly show the intent to destroy symbols
of the modern world, icons to free peoples everywhere.
attacking this cosmopolitan city and its World Trade Center, the perpetrators
targeted us all. Nationals of over sixty countries met their death in these
dastardly attacks. Yet, even if our own nationals were not among those who lost
their lives, we all feel under attack. We all feel violated. In one way or
another, our lives have been altered forever and we must respond
We must fight this scourge of
terrorism with unreserved and unhesitating resolve.
We must do this not
merely as a means of defending all that we hold dear. We must do this to secure
a safer world for ourselves, for those who will follow us and for those who have
had their lives irrevocably transformed as a result of these terrorist attacks.
This resolve must be our tribute to the innocent and the brave who lost their
lives in the 11th September attacks.
The two-month postponement of the
general debate has provided us with the time to reflect and act. Malta joined
the international community's absolute and unreserved condemnation of the
terrorist acts. We have also stepped up our actions in pursuit of an effective
implementation of anti-terrorism measures including comprehensive compliance
with Security Council Resolution 1373.
Malta was amongst the first six
countries to sign the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of
Terrorism and yesterday became one of the first states to ratify it.
Sunday Malta also acceded to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of
Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons including Diplomatic Agents, to
the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages as well as to the
International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.
new realities of today's world have certainly brought to the fore the importance
of these Conventions on Terrorism. At the same time they have also brought into
bold relief the wisdom that underpins the efforts of the International Community
in its pursuit of the establishment of the International Criminal Court. My
Government is politically committed to the ICC and will seek the ratification of
the Rome Statute by the Maltese Parliament in the near future.
way we feel that we are doing all we can to ensure that no stone is left
unturned in our fight against terrorism.
With each passing day, we are witnessing the domino effect
that acts of terror may have at a national, regional and global level. The
impact this has on the lives of millions must be addressed.
therefore that the time is ripe to conclude the debate on an operational
definition of the perpetration of a terrorist act. Intensified efforts aimed at
an expeditious conclusion of negotiations on the Indian proposal should
subsequently yield a comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which
will be of benefit to us all. We firmly believe that such an umbrella agreement
will give added value to, and further complement, other existing conventions on
We also believe that the General Assembly should actively
consider convening a high-level conference on terrorism under the aegis of the
United Nations upon, or immediately after, the conclusion of this convention.
This will serve to reinforce our ongoing international efforts to formulate a
collective response to terrorism.
The unity of purpose currently
prevailing within the international community in its fight against terrorism is
perhaps unprecedented. Indeed the political will displayed over the past two
months is a clear manifestation, if any was needed, that multilateralism remains
a vital tool in the conduct of relations between states at a global
This political will has also been seen in the other work of this
organization. Allow me therefore to turn to other issues on the agenda of this
I would like to first express my
government's full support for the German and French governments' initiative to
bring the issue of human cloning before the United Nations. Aimed at drafting a
Convention banning human cloning for reproduction, this initiative has received
wide support from all quarters. The concern expressed underlines the fundamental
nature of the threat to humanity posed by scientists who are unwilling to accept
ethical and moral limits to their work. In responding to the Franco-German
initiative, the United Nations will ensure that a strong and meaningful
convention can be drafted and adopted within as short a time-frame as
The United Nations has already had occasion to exhibit its
ability to act swiftly and decisively when the conscience of the international
community is heightened. The entry into force of the Ottawa Convention on
Landmines, which Malta ratified earlier this year, was made possible by the
international community's outrage at the devastating impact of these
indiscriminate weapons whose horrific effects long outlast their military
Similarly, the seriousness and urgency of the problem of human
cloning should expedite the conclusion of an internationally binding agreement
on this issue. I have no doubt that the rich diversity of beliefs reflected in
this room is united in its respect for human dignity and identity, and, its
concern with the fundamental and far-reaching implications of human
Other world events continue to pose a
threat to the fundamental right of peoples to live in a secure, stable and
The current state of affairs in the Middle East
is one such example. The dramatic contrast between the optimism apparent at the
Millennium Assembly's opening and the escalation in violence witnessed over the
past few months has made it increasingly difficult for the parties to return to
the positions they were in just over twelve months ago.
convinced that the Mitchell report and the Tenet Plan provide a realistic and
readily achievable way out of the spiral of violence that has engulfed the
region. The peace, security and welfare of all the people concerned require that
their full implementation be urgently embarked upon. This necessitates the
re-establishment of security cooperation between the parties in the interests of
both Israelis and Palestinians, the stationing of international observers,
preferably from several regions, and an end to all new settlement activity,
including so-called "natural growth".
Against this backdrop Malta hopes
that both parties will be able to return to the negotiating table with the aim
of achieving a just and permanent peace in the region on the basis of the
relevant Security Council resolutions.
the Mediterranean, the situation in Cyprus has remained a cause of concern for
over twenty-five years. We earnestly augur that an early settlement of the
Cyprus question will be found and in this connection re-iterate our full support
for efforts to find a solution on the basis of the relevant Security Council
Progress towards lasting peace and stability in the
Mediterranean often appears to unfold very slowly. Events in the Balkans since
we met here last year, however, bring fresh hope to us all.
The end of
the Milosevic era was a clear example of the positive change that can be wrought
through the power of the people, signalling a fresh beginning for the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and indeed for all the neighbouring independent
In recent months, turmoil and unrest have also threatened to
engulf the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Yet, the unfolding of the
situation now reveals encouraging signs of the power of diplomacy. International
assistance extended to republics in the Balkan region is also indicative of the
power that resides with each of us to make our own contribution and to play a
Malta feels this onus most strongly and
actively seeks to play a role on the international stage that goes beyond the
mere limitations of its geographical size. In fact, in keeping with this
consciousness, Malta is proceeding steadily towards its objective of acceding to
the European Union - a Union of like-minded states where we naturally belong,
not only politically, but also economically, culturally and
Our intention is therefore to form an integral part of the
European Union at the next enlargement, enabling us to participate fully in a
decision-making process that all too often carries wide-ranging implications for
our country even today.
Like other candidate countries, Malta is
currently negotiating the terms of entry to the EU in what will be an
unprecedented widening and deepening of the Union. Already more than halfway
through this process, we are working hard to ensure that Malta is not only well
equipped to deal with the challenges of membership but is also in a position to
make a significant contribution to the Union.
This historic project and
the enhancement of Mediterranean co-operation are both of immediate concern to
Malta. We feel that they go hand in hand.
increase in dialogue between all nations and a move towards securing a safer
planet is in everyone's interest. However, threats to international security,
not least those posed by weapons of mass destruction, continue to lurk in the
In July of this year Malta deposited its instrument of
ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. Malta hopes that the
remaining thirteen countries whose ratification is necessary for the Treaty to
come into forcen will join the eighty-four countries who have already done so.
Thus, a significant collective step will have been taken towards reducing the
risk of nuclear disaster.
Not so long ago, the
terms "environment "and "international security" in the same sentence would have
drawn a perplexed response from most audiences. Today, the link between the two
has become increasingly apparent.
The urgency in addressing the greatest
threats to our natural environment was made amply clear in Bonn during the Sixth
Session of the Conference of State Parties of the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (COPS-6). Despite being faced with seemingly insurmountable
obstacles, the international community succeeded in forging the Earth's first
major action-oriented response to the phenomenon of global warming. In this
respect, allow me to offer my Government's expression of gratitude to the
Chairman of the Conference, Mr. Jan Plonk, as well as to my compatriot, Mr.
Michael Zammit Cutajar, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change, for their enormous personal efforts aimed at securing a
Their success laid the groundwork for the
breakthrough achieved at COPS -7 in Marrakech last week. The agreement on the
modalities of implementation of the Kyoto Protocol has opened the door to its
ratification by all states signatories. Indeed Malta deposited its instrument of
ratification yesterday, and looks forward to the present momentum being
sustained leading to an early entry into force of this landmark
Difficult and complex as it may be to
tackle environmental global problems, the most challenging environmental
problems are often those in our own backyards. With one of the highest
population densities in the world, Malta has achieved a high level of human
development without any natural resources at its disposal. In seeking to
continue to raise our living standards we grapple daily with difficult decisions
aimed at ensuring that economic development on our islands is environmentally
There is no simple trade-off between the protection of the
environment and the production of wealth. The Mediterranean Sea, which provides
Malta with its economic lifeline, is perhaps the most tangible proof of the fact
that economic progress at the expense of the environment is no progress at all.
In reaping its bountiful fruits we know that these are not unlimited, and if not
tended to, will dry up altogether. The same applies to other seas and
With this in mind Malta yesterday became the thirtieth state to
accede to the UNCLOS Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks -
a move that will bring the Agreement itself into force on December 11th, 2001.
Having initiated the process that led to the UN Convention on the Law of the
Sea, it is a source of great satisfaction for Malta to contribute to the further
development of this veritable pillar of international law.
While there is inevitably still more that can be done, both at
a domestic and international level, I augur that this UNGA Session will serve as
a renewed impetus for us all to promote all that is necessary to make the world
safer and more secure. This is our fundamental duty, as political leaders, for
the welfare of present and future generations.
We must continue to foster
social justice, to promote equitable development, to nurture confidence amongst
peoples, to settle conflicts and to take the appropriate measures to ensure
security for all.
Yet, in doing all this, Governments and peoples must
ensure that we continue first and foremost to build peace in the minds of men
and women. That undertaking, adopted by the generation that survived the Second
World War, still retains its noble authenticity today as we face the challenges
of our own times.