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Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hon. Angelino Alfano at the Audience with the Holy Father

Vatican City, 28 October 2017

(The authentic text is only the one actually delivered)

Holy Father, it is a great honour for me and for the whole Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to have been invited to this audience crowning the achievements of the Third Conference on Humanitarian International Law.

Holy Father, during the Jubilee for Young People, you said that a life without Jesus is like a cell phone without service. I was deeply struck by those lofty and effective words. I pondered them over at length. And, as Foreign Minister, I reached the conclusion that in an interconnected world, our political and moral portal must safeguard those humanitarian values without which we would be left off-line, disconnected from that fundamental sense of humanity that instead traditionally differentiates good governance from inhuman regimes, and a good diplomat from a cynical and servile official. 

These universal values, which cannot simply be downloaded from the Internet, are reflected and translated into humanitarian law. For us however this law is much more than a mere collection of norms: it is one of the cornerstones of stability and peace. And all humanitarian organisations, both religious and secular, are the indispensable allies of governments in enforcing these universal principles with immediacy and impartiality. 

I like to recall that, during the last five years, Italy has more than doubled the resources dedicated to humanitarian interventions, and that almost half of our initiatives are implemented by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs): our greatest “human capital” consisting of young men and women, lay and religious missionaries, professionals and volunteers. 

Suffice it to think of the migration crisis, where the joint action by Governmental and non-Governmental players has enabled Italy to wed solidarity with security. And this synergy between diplomacy and Non-Governmental Organisations on the protection of human lives also inspires us to want to make the conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya more decent and human.  

Your Holiness, Italian diplomacy, in great harmony with the vision of the Vatican, has recently intensified its humanitarian efforts in areas of crisis. The civil conflicts and serious famines that continue to afflict so many Countries must spur us to do even more to put suffering and vulnerable human beings at the top of our international agenda. Holy Father, your lofty words will continue to be our source of inspiration and strong encouragement in this action.  

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