Addressing a virtual summit convened by New Zealand and France to mark the Christchurch Call’s second anniversary, President George Vella described Malta as a staunch supporter of a free, open, and secure internet that boasts a huge ability to promote connectivity, enhance social inclusiveness, and foster economic growth. At the same time, the country acknowledges the critical need for additional significant steps to be taken to counteract the use of the internet by terrorist and violent extremist groups as a tool for their propaganda, which abuses the freedoms and openness of the web.
The Christchurch Call was launched by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron on the 15th of May 2019, in response to the livestreaming of terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. With respect for and protection of international human rights laws and fundamental freedoms, and support for a free, open, and secure internet as its basic tenets, the Call comprises voluntary commitments for supporting governments and technology companies to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. The Summit brought together heads of state and government, as well as leaders from the technology industry and the Call’s civil society advisory network to take stock of progress, refocus the Christchurch Call community’s shared efforts, and refresh its workplan to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.
President Vella reaffirmed the pressing need for the Christchurch Call community to be strengthened, as well as for a multi-stakeholder approach in which the industry works in unison with the Call Community, partner-country governments, academia, and civil society to prevent and counter acts inspired by radical and extremist motives. Transparency in reporting by all the stakeholders also needs to be encouraged and sought, because without concrete knowledge of the extent of the challenge and how this is being addressed, it is difficult to identify ways forward.
A main focus of Malta’s work is on the prevention side: through its ‘Prevent Network’, it aims to create further resilience and strengthen its policy development on countering radicalisation and violent extremism in all forms by bringing together a good number of government and other civil entities to the fold. In addition, and in relation to its support to the Call, Malta is proud to actively host and support the work of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), launched in 2014 by the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum.
“Malta is proud to stand firmly with the Co-Chairs and the Call Community in ensuring the enjoyment of the human rights of everyone while, at the same time, redoubling our efforts to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online and bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice,” the President said.
Among the world leaders who also addressed the Summit, were French President Emmanuel Macron, New Zeland’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, King Adullah II of Jordan, President of Portugal Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.