Since the Helsinki process in 1973 which led to the setting up of the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe), countries like Malta strongly underscored the principle of indivisibility of security and emphasized that peace, security and stability in Europe and in the Mediterranean were intrinsically and inextricably interlinked. The ‘Mediterranean dimension’, better known as the CSCM (Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean), within the Charter of Paris for a New Europe signed in November 1990, is synonymous to Malta. Since the very start of the Helsinki process, Malta advocated that there cannot be security in Europe without security in the Mediterranean. To underscore the importance of this dimension and its commitment towards the region, Malta hosted a number of CSCE/OSCE seminars on the Mediterranean over a period of time.
Following seven Interparliamentary Conferences on Security and Cooperation in Europe between 1972 and 1991, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) decided on a similar process in the Mediterranean, launching the process of the CSCM under the auspices of the IPU and including all littoral states of the Mediterranean.
In April 1990, during the 83rd IPU Conference in Nicosia, a resolution entitled The Promotion of Peace and Security in the Mediterranean region in the light of developments in Europe and the new spirit prevailing internationally,recommended the convening of a Conference of Parliamentarians of all Mediterranean States to discuss measures addressing various fields of cooperation. The idea of an Interparliamentary CSCM was met with interest and support from among Parliamentarians around the Mediterranean. IPU decided therefore to launch an ‘interparliamentary’ CSCM which convened meetings in Malaga (Spain) in June 1992, in Valletta (Malta) in November 1995 and in Marseille (France) in April 2000.
The Malaga Conference confirmed the basic principles of the process and set up the general framework for cooperation between the Mediterranean partners; the Valletta Conference affirmed the need to give the CSCM process a solid institutional basis, both at governmental and parliamentary level, and further recommended, on Malta’s initiative, the setting up of an Association of Mediterranean States. The Marseille Conference urged that concurrent action should continue to be taken to establish an inter-parliamentary cooperation structure as advocated in the Final Document of the Second Inter-parliamentary Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean, with a view to creating, in the long run, a Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean and to establish an inter-parliamentary structure as advocated in the Valletta (1995) document which enjoys a superior status, thus institutionalizing the CSCM process.
In February 2005, the Fourth and final CSCM Conference was held in Nafplion, Greece. During that meeting, representatives of national parliaments of the Mediterranean States finalized and adopted the Statutes of the Parliamentary Assembly and decided to hold the first meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) in Amman, Jordan in 2006.
During PAM’s inauguration on 10-11 September 2006 in Amman, Jordan, Malta was unanimously selected to host the PAM’s Secretariat at Palazzo Spinola in St Julian’s.
The aim of the PAM is to provide the Mediterranean with a unique parliamentary forum of its own and to bring together, on an equal footing, the national parliaments on the Mediterranean littoral and neighbouring states. By addressing issues of common concern to foster and enhance further confidence between Member States to ensure regional security and stability and promote peace, the Assembly works to develop cooperation among its members in its fields of action by promoting political dialogue and understanding between parliaments concerned.
PAM is a regional interstate organisation and is an Observer at the General Assembly of the United Nations. Over a short period, PAM has established itself as the main actor in parliamentary diplomacy in the region, and its commitment to the founding principles and its Charter, is guaranteed by the continued support of all its member parliaments.
The detailed work of the Assembly is carried out by three Standing Committees which draw up opinions and recommendations. The committees of the PAM are:
First Standing Committee on Political and Security-Related Cooperation
Second Standing Committee on Economic, Social and Environmental Cooperation
Third Standing Committee on Dialogue among Civilisations and Human Rights.
The Assembly meets for the Plenary Session once a year and members of Parliament are presented with the work and resolutions of the three Standing Committees.