Opening Speech at the North-South Prize Award Ceremony

Opening Speech at the North-South Prize Award Ceremony

Reference Number:  , Press Release Issue Date: Dec 22, 2023
On 14 December 2023, the Permanent Representative of Malta to the Council of Europe, Ambassador Francesca Camilleri Vettiger, participated at the 2022 North-South Prize Award Ceremony of the Council of Europe, which was held at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Portuguese Republic in Lisbon and presided by the Speaker of the Portuguese Parliament, Mr Augusto Santos Silva.

Since 1995, the North-South Prize has been annually awarded to two candidates, be they activists, personalities, or organizations, in recognition of their remarkable dedication to advancing North-South solidarity and who have distinguished themselves in the protection of human rights, defense of pluralist democracy, or in raising public awareness on issues of global interdependence and solidarity.

The 2022 Prize was awarded to two distinguished entities:
  • The Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC), in recognition of its three-decade advocacy for local authorities, decentralization of power, and the promotion of democracy at the local level and for its exceptional contributions to fostering the resilience of local communities during times of war. The AUC was represented by the Mayor of Mariupol, Mr Vadym Boychenko.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in recognition of its crucial work in raising awareness about the pressing need to globally act against greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the effects of climate change. The IPCC was represented by its Chair, Professor Jim Skea.

Ambassador Camilleri Vettiger, in her capacity of Chairwoman of the Executive Committee of the North-South Centre, delivered the first opening speech of the Ceremony describing the North-South Prize as a symbol of recognition for individuals and organizations contributing to the promotion of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. She expressed sincere gratitude to the Portuguese Authorities for their unwavering support to the Centre and for hosting the annual Ceremony in such a prestigious setting. The Ambassador praised the leading role the AUC holds today in responding to the urgent needs of Ukrainian municipalities and the upholding of democratic values even in times of war. She further underlined the united message of strong solidarity and support with the Association and all those affected by the brutal aggression that continues to be waged by Russia against their country. She also lauded the IPCC for its rigorous research that has shaped our understanding of climate change and its most recent report which serves as an urgent call for climate action to prevent further loss and damages from the escalating extreme weather events. Finally, the Ambassador highlighted the Centre's commitment to bridging divides and raising awareness about global interdependence and cooperation with a renewed focus on intensifying efforts to engage with neighbouring regions and extend the Council of Europe values beyond European borders through its recently adopted new strategy.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Her Excellency Marija Pejčinović Burić, delivered her opening speech followed by the Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of Portugal and Chairperson of the Portuguese delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Ms Edite Estrela. The President of the Portuguese Republic, His Excellency Mr Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, then presented the two laureates with their respective Prize, each of whom delivered an impassioned speech about their work and challenges faced, that was followed by a closing speech from His Excellency the President himself.