This is an insider's view of the genesis and development of Malta's foreign policy from 1964, when it became an independent state, until the mid-nineties, when Malta embarked on the road to membership of a growing European Union. It was an exciting time to be a diplomat, as Victor Gauci was: the configuration of international power altered dramatically, sometimes unpredictably, shifting the focus of world attention from the Cold War; to the role of the United Nations; to the collapse of Communism as a force in world affairs; to the rise of new powers - the EU and China in particular. For a newly independent mini-state, navigating the turbulent world order posed particular challenges. This is the story of how Malta's policy-makers - political leaders, diplomats and governing institutions - forged strategies to meet those challenges. It is a story of public drama and quiet agreements; of visionary proposals and meticulous staff work; of opportunities created or lost. It explains how a tiny state acquired, for itself and for small nations everywhere, diplomatic leverage in a world of great powers.
It sets this, too, against the backdrop of the state's domestic politics - which could be as contentious as international affairs. Once the newly independent state had organised a modest diplomatic service, it propelled itself ambitiously onto the world stage. The account begins with Malta's historic initiative in devising the legal concept of the "common heritage of mankind" enshrined in the Law of the Sea Convention. It follows that story through to Malta's unsuccessful effort to secure the headquarters of the International Sea-Bed Authority. Other pioneering efforts followed: an initiative intended to strengthen the Security Council's role in the UN; a leading role in another to foster international consensus on the political rights of the hapless Palestinian people; securing the inclusion of the important Declaration on the Mediterranean in the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. For the author the high point came when he canvassed for Malta's election to the Security Council, and represented Malta on that body in the years 1983/84, assuming the position of President of the Council in November 1983.
It was, indeed, the high water mark of the state's diplomacy during the first three decades of independence. Malta gave as much importance to relations with other states as it did to multilateral relations. The account covers relations between Malta and distant but important allies (China and Australia) to which the author was accredited as Ambassador or High Commissioner. The book provides much fascinating new material on significant events and institutions, in Malta and abroad, which the author helped to shape in a career spanning four decades, two of which were spent in the lobbies and conference halls of the UN in New York and Geneva. It offers thoughtful analysis of many divisive issues confronting the United Nations. It provides revealing insights into the author's dealings with three Maltese Prime Ministers, and three Foreign Ministers, first as a civil servant and subsequently as a diplomat. The book will undoubtedly appeal to students of Maltese history, international relations, diplomacy and public policy. It offers contemporary policy makers and diplomats, in Malta and elsewhere, a distillation of the institutional memory that only a seasoned diplomat embodies.