Describing the Sovereign Order of Malta’s mission, its institutional commitments, diplomatic dimension and main humanitarian challenges in Asia, Oceania and Africa: to this end the Foreign Affairs Department of the Sovereign Order of Malta’s government organized two conferences in Rome, on 24 and 26 October. Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from many countries in Asia and Africa attended.
The Order of Malta’s Grand Chancellor, Riccardo Paternò di Montecupo, welcomed participants to the Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi, headquarters of the Order of Malta’s Italian Association and Italian Relief Corps. Whilst talking about the Order’s main characteristics, he said that “our international profile, along with neutrality and independence – in respect of national sovereignty – as well as our impartiality and apolitical character, are fundamental elements of our commitment to humanitarian diplomacy and soft diplomacy as well as mediation in crisis management. These distinctive features make it easier for us to offer help and assistance, as well as support the environmental and cultural activities at the international level that contribute to a widespread dialogue, to mutual understanding, and to the well-being of peoples,” said the Grand Chancellor, listing the main statistics of the Order of Malta’s commitment with its over 95,000 volunteers and some 55,000 employees worldwide.
The conferences included a detailed presentation by the Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Giampaolo Cantini, of the extent and nature of the Order of Malta’s diplomatic network, as well as its history, characteristics, main humanitarian activities and its commitment to alleviate the suffering of peoples afflicted by war and poverty. After each conference, diplomats expressed great interest and had numerous questions.
The Order of Malta maintains diplomatic relations with 38 African countries and is present in healthcare and social activities – including hospitals, clinics and ambulance corps – in 35 countries on the continent. Instead, 12 countries in Asia and Oceania enjoy diplomatic relations with the Order of Malta. In the South Pacific region, the Order of Malta has a constantly growing presence with targeted programmes to assist communities affected by climate change, combat neglected diseases and promote hygiene and health.