21 April 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, ahead of a major donor conference on Somalia’s security scheduled for Thursday, travelled from Geneva to Malta today to recognize the Mediterranean country’s role in fighting climate change and to meet with leaders.
Mr. Ban, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and President George Abela discussed Malta's contribution to a number of global issues affecting the small island nation, such as management of ocean resources, according to a UN spokesperson.
Immigration was a major concern as well, as Malta is in the path of hundreds of refugees fleeing the Horn of Africa by boat, the spokesperson said, adding that they also spoke about Middle East matters and the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations initiative.
This evening, Mr. Ban spoke at the unveiling of a Climate Change Monument at the International Maritime Law Institute, noting that Malta was the first country to formally table the issue of climate change as a political agenda item at the UN General Assembly.
“Since that initiative in 1988, Malta has played a dynamic role in ensuring that climate change would remain a matter of high-level attention for the international community,” he said, also remarking that a Maltese diplomat served as the first head of the Secretariat for the landmark UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“As we move toward crucial climate negotiations in Copenhagen later this year, Malta is a key player in efforts to ‘seal the deal.’ That is admirable global citizenship,” he said.
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General is scheduled to address the country’s Parliament and to receive an honorary degree from the University of Malta in recognition of his contribution to raising awareness on climate change.
The International Conference on Somalia, which Mr. Ban will co-chair in Brussels on Thursday, is meant to support Somali institutions and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in bolstering security in the strife-torn nation, which has not had a functioning government for 18 years.
According to the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), if the Conference were to meet its goals of raising some $260 million, the Somali transitional Government would have the means to fund a national security force of 6,000 troops along with 10,000 national police.
It is also hoped that new funds will allow AMISOM, which now has 4300 troops, to improve its logistical means and infrastructure, in addition to providing the necessary training and monitoring of the planned Somali security and police forces.
The Conference is being convened by the Secretary-General and hosted by the European Commission. The African Union, the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic States will also attend.
Photo: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) on a tour of Barrakka Gardens with the Prime Minister of Malta Lawrence Gonzi (UN Photo)