Order of Malta Strengthens Diplomacy for Humanitarian Aid

More+Events ♦ Published: February 6, 2024; 22:47 ♦ (Vindobona)

A major international conference in Rome, attended by the Sovereign Order of Malta's Ambassador to the Republic of Austria, H.E. DI Sebastian Prince von Schoenaich-Carolath, has strengthened the role of the Order of Malta's diplomatic service in the international community. The event included an audience with Pope Francis and provided a platform for exchange on ways to intensify international cooperation.

H.E. DI Sebastian Prince von Schoenaich-Carolath ( l.), Ambassador of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to the Republic of Austria, exchanging information with the Ambassador for the Czech Republic, Prince Wenzel von Lobkowicz (r.). / Picture: © Malteserorden/Nicusor Floroaica

The Order of Malta, which can trace its roots back to 1309 when it made the island of Rhodes its headquarters, enjoys special sovereignty due to its status as a subject of international law. This enables it to maintain diplomatic relations with a large number of countries and international organizations, including 16 UN organizations, the EU, and 113 countries.

At the Order of Malta's international conference in Rome, attended by over 100 ambassadors, the focus was on diplomatic measures to respond to the global economic crisis and rising poverty. The Order's Grand Master, Fra' John Dunlap, emphasized the need to alleviate the distressing situation of those most in need and stressed that the poor, sick, and forgotten must remain the Order's priority. He called for partnerships with other organizations to tackle a wide range of challenges, particularly concerning migrants and refugees.

The conference emphasized the need for a coordinated response to the cries of the poor and called for interdisciplinary collaboration to meet the diverse needs worldwide. Sr. Alessandra Smerilli from the Dicastery for Integral Human Development spoke about the importance of a united Europe and the need to change the narrative on migrants to understand phenomena beyond the usual discourses.

The conference also served as a public sign of the Order's sovereignty and underlined its over 900-year history of international aid and cooperation. "The conference not only strengthened the Order's diplomatic service but also highlighted the many opportunities for increased international cooperation, particularly in areas such as combating human trafficking," explained Ambassador Schoenaich-Carolath.

During an audience with the diplomatic corps, Pope Francis emphasized the historical and special status of the Order of Malta and the importance of its international aid activities. The Order of Malta, which has no military, political, or economic interests, relies on diplomacy to promote human dignity and humanitarian aid.

With over 13,500 members, 95,000 volunteers, and 50,000 full-time staff, the Order of Malta provides aid to around 15 million people in need worldwide. Its commitment ranges from social services to disaster and refugee relief to the operation of medical facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. The conference in Rome once again emphasized the Order of Malta's central role in global humanitarian aid and diplomacy.

Order of Malta