The Order has bilateral diplomatic relations with 106 countries, official relations with 6 countries, official representations and permanent observer status at the United Nations, the European Union and numerous international organisations, providing a unique diplomatic humanitarian network which is both a demonstration of its sovereignty and an operational instrument for its humanitarian activities.
Following its historic mission to help the sick, the needy and the most disadvantaged in society, the Order of Malta continues its work today, operating in more than 120 countries. Its programmes include medical and social assistance, disaster relief in the case of armed conflicts and natural catastrophes, emergency services and first aid corps, help for the elderly, the handicapped and children in need and the provision of first aid training, and support for refugees and internally displaced persons regardless of race, origin or religion. The Order of Malta has been operating with this neutral, impartial perspective for over 900 years, caring for people of all beliefs – muslim, orthodox, catholic, protestant, jewish.
The Order relies on the involvement of its 13,000 members, as well as approximately 80,000 trained volunteers and 20,000 employees, the majority of whom are medical personnel. The Order’s organisations worldwide (Grand Priories, National Associations, relief organisations and foundations) are responsible for carrying out its activities, both in its the permanent institutions – such as hospitals, outpatient medical centres and old peoples’ homes – and with its socio-medical and humanitarian programmes.
- The Order has a policy of active relations with the major international organizations involved in humanitarian work, seeking to operate in partnership with key international players and both government and non-governmental organisations.
- Ambassadors‘ missions are strictly humanitarian, totally voluntary and always impartial. They exist to smooth the way for the Order’s members, permanent volunteers in many professional fields such as doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, to deliver humanitarian aid in accordance with the need. Using their skills in diplomacy and negotiation, they help to ensure that aid can be delivered promptly and effectively, working with the National Associations of the Order where they exist in a particular country, or taking responsibility for co-ordinating aid activities where they do not.
- Suffering has many faces, and takes many forms. Its causes are also manifold: poverty, ignorance, war, famine, flood, disease, terrorism, oppression as well as natural or man-made disasters, all create the conditions for human misery that the Order strives to relieve.
- Wherever it is needed, and for whatever the reason, our work in providing humanitarian aid is facilitated through the diplomatic relations that exist between the Order and 106 national states, and through official relations with six European governments. We also work through our permanent observer missions to the United Nations, at permanent representative level with the European Commission, and with other intergovernmental and international organisations.
- In this context, the Order is playing an increasingly active part in the consultation and planning process, to which it can contribute its extensive experience, its familiarity with the situation in the field, and its own particular form of expertise.