Muscat makes pitch for a digital revolution in his United Nations address

Joseph Muscat says a future-proof society will have to pair the digital economy with the digital state through the use of Blockchain

Joseph Muscat addresses the UN General Assembly. (Photo: Omar Camilleri)
Joseph Muscat addresses the UN General Assembly. (Photo: Omar Camilleri)

Malta prime minister Joseph Muscat made a pitch for a digital revolution that can solve global problems at his United Nations address on Thursday, in a speech that prioritised the word “solutions” - mentioned 17 times. 

In his plug for Malta’s embrace of distributed ledger technologies, Muscat likened the transition to the brave new world of Blockchain to the arrival of the motor car putting horses out of the streets. 

“Those who will be able to pair the digital economy with a new state, the digital state, will be best poised to have a future-proof society where change does not galvanise extremes, but provides for other decades of sensible, mainstream policymaking and prosperity.” 

Muscat asked whether algorithms could avoid war and solve diplomatic negotiations, whether terrorists could be disarmed with the latest technology, and whether new technology could immediately identify remote parts of the planet needed international humanitarian assistance 

“I passionately believe technology revolutionises and improves systems. Which is why, in Malta, we have launched ourselves as the Blockchain Island by being the first jurisdiction to regularise a new technology that previously existed in a legal vacuum,” he said. 

Muscat said cryptocurrencies were “the inevitable future of money” and would help filter good from bad business. But he also said DLTs could provide new solutions to healthcare systems where patients have real ownership of their medical records, eliminate compromised data, and make corporations accountable to their shareholders. 

In the traditional vein of any Maltese prime minister, Muscat once again floated a proposal for a Bretton Woods-styled institutional arrangement to address and manage migration, with international support. 

“We have been grappling with all the complexities that this poses for years – much longer than it has been recognised as a priority by the international community, and dominating media headlines in Europe and beyond,” Muscat said. 

“With a global strategy to deliver incisive blows to migrant smugglers, we can disrupt their online recruitment efforts, their payment methods, as well as their continued supply of sea vessels: most importantly, we can, together, stop these people profiting from a practise that often results in the death of innocent people.” 

He also paid tribute to his own efforts at securing a temporary distribution of migrants where other EU member states had refused to take in asylum seekers rescued at sea. 

“In recent weeks – because of the actions of a few who did not abide by the relevant conventions – Malta had to bring together like-minded nations with humanitarian consciences to offer a place of safety to stranded migrants. Malta had no legal obligation to do so, but in the spirit of unified solutions it did. And it proved that when solidarity works, complex issues can often have simple solutions.” 

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