IRRC No. 166

The Sovereign Order of Malta Today

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A half century has gone by since 1927. During that time, the sovereign Order of Malta has sought to adapt itself to the evolution of international life and international law. Its experience during the First World War, in which it brought aid to the wounded, the sick, the prisoners and the refugees with its medical units, ambulances, trains, aircraft and ships, enabled it to make its working methods responsive to emerging needs. In addition, the mid-century dialogue between the Order and the Catholic Church led to the acceptance of a formula put forward by the Cardinals' Commission, whereby the Holy See recognized the functional sovereignty of the Order in carrying out its international humanitarian activities. Finally, the increasing number of its members, particularly those recruited from amongst those distinguished personalities who combine a spiritual life with an intimate association with governmental circles, provides the order with an invaluable human reserve of men of thought and action who are available in case of need.

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