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Grand Chancellor addresses the UN Human Rights Council ‘Human dignity is at the centre of our action’

24 February 2021

“A rapid and widespread global distribution of the vaccines is not only an ethical imperative but also a scientific and clinical imperative as it is the best way to stop the pandemic.” Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeslager to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Boeselager addressed the 46th session of the United Nations Human Right Council, which opened in Geneva on 22 February. He stressed the multiple challenges humanitarian actors are facing in the wake of the pandemic. “The covid-19 pandemic, with its devastating effects on the health and economy of many nations, adds to global tensions and conflicts, the growing problems of famine, environment degradation, the issue of refugees and those fleeing war, terrorism and hunger and the many forms of violence that humiliate and offend human dignity”.

The ongoing human rights violations
He noted the ongoing violation of human rights in many parts of the world, from the Horn of Africa to the Caucasus region, to war-torn Syria: “Protecting the rights of minorities – often subject to discrimination and persecution – remains an imperative at a time when the logic of power, nationalism and populism is growing at the expense of the logic of dialogue.” Violations include the “migrant emergency in South East Europe and the shameful mistreatment of migrants in deplorable run-down camps in order to discourage the arrival of other migrants.”

Faith-based organisations can give support
The Grand Chancellor described the Order of Malta’s efforts to assist refugees and migrants during their transit, stressing the need to work on transnational approaches based on shared values. In this framework, the work of faith-based organisations can be particularly effective: “In massive violations of human rights, the most reliable first responders for local communities are very often the faith-based organisations. The Order of Malta – which has a long experience in interventions in difficult areas affected by ethnic or religious hostilities – calls for a closer inter-religious dialogue as fundamental in helping the victims in these situations.”

Religions in action
The Order of Malta has drafted the Compact “Religions in Action”, based on the shared key principles of the monotheist religions, drawn up with the contribution of a selected group of religious experts, Christians and Muslims. The document contains guidelines for the role religious communities and religious institutions can play for the respect of human rights and to help resolve crisis situations and mitigate their effect on the communities involved.

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.