On November 18th the 2022 session of the UN Third Committee came to an end. This Committee is one of the most important bodies of the General Assembly, and focusses on human rights and humanitarian issues. This year, more than ever, the Sovereign Order of Malta made its voice heard, reflecting the Order’s increasing involvement in this area of the work of the United Nations and the expansion of our team of diplomats and trainees at the Mission.
Over this two-month period the delegation addressed many issues that are close to the Order’s mission: among these, we had our Special Advisor on Human Trafficking and Child Protection, Mrs. Deborah O’Hara Rusckowski, leading two side bar events, one in the General Assembly focusing on the global dimensions of this topic and the other examining the issues pertinent to human trafficking along the Ukraine border following the beginning of hostilities.
In several statements, like the one against torture led by delegate Ms. Federica Ostoni, the delegation mentioned the new protocol that the Order has submitted to the World Health Organization in assisting health care providers, in hospitals, clinics, care facilities and emergency rooms to identify victims of modern slavery. This is the first protocol of its kind and is the result of several years of research and work from Mrs. O’Hara Rusckowski and our Mission to the United Nations.
Climate change remains an ever-pressing issue that continues to affect each and every one of us. Recently, Egypt hosted the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference, and, during a number of Third Committee meetings, the Order of Malta stressed the realities we are all experiencing: a multifaceted crisis that desperately requires no less than an immediate response. Considering this, Counsellor Mrs. Marissa del Rosario-Blackett reiterated the importance of respecting human rights, particularly as they relate to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, all of which are necessary for a dignified life.
Currently, we are witness to 27 armed conflicts across the planet. And during this session the evolving situation in Ukraine was a focal point for the UN agenda. The Order of Malta contributes to the support and sustenance of victims by providing medical assistance, food, water and shelter. Our delegate, Mr. James Harrison Greenwood, shared our commitment towards helping families, particularly displaced families, as well as highlighting our efforts against the exploitation of children as a consequence of this war.
Other critical areas, like the situation in Syria, were discussed by Counsellor Mr. Felipe Victoria-Grueso, and the situation in Palestine was discussed by Counsellor Fra’ Nicola Tegoni. All of our interventions focused on the need to secure the safety of migrant and displaced populations, ensuring the safety of civilians and calling for a cessation of hostilities so that communities can begin rebuilding and that those who are left behind and who are forgotten, can find a voice, along with safety and security.
Counsellor Mr. Peter McGuire highlighted the importance of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.
Conflicts around the world continue to forcibly displace civilians and Mr. Ravi Tripptrap, attaché to our Mission, reminded other delegations about the rights of migrants irrespective of nationality. Furthermore, our delegate, Mr. Theo Whyte, intervened on the Dialogue for Refugees, stressing that efforts towards refugee assistance are not limited to UN agencies or NGOs, but any government, organization, or person that is capable of aiding our suffering fellow humans.
Echoing our Holy Father Pope Francis’ call for more international aid during the World Day for the Poor, our diplomatic trainee, Mr. Conor C. Manepaa, drew attention to the debilitating suffering caused by extreme poverty.
Throughout the session, the Third Committee was able to hear about the daily work of our relief agency Malteser International, which strives continuously to help “the forgotten people”, which includes, among others, the elderly – a topic introduced by delegate Ms. Antonia Ronner.