Established in 1985, the Committees of Italian abroad (Comites) are representative bodies of the Italian community, directly elected by the Italian nationals living abroad in each consular district where at least three thousand Italian nationals registered in the updated list referred to in Article 5, paragraph 1, of Law 459/2001, live.
In the districts where fewer than three thousand Italian citizens live, the Committees may be appointed by the diplomatic-consular authorities.
The Committees are composed of 12 or 18 members, depending on whether they are elected in consular districts with fewer or more than 100,000 resident Italian citizens, as they result from the updated list of Italian citizens living abroad.
In addition to the elected members of Italian citizenship, foreign citizens of Italian origin may be members of the Committees, by cooptation, in a number not exceeding one third of the elected Committee members (4 or 6 members).
Pursuant to Article 1, paragraph 2, of Law 286/2003, the Comites are representative bodies of Italians abroad in their relations with diplomatic-consular Missions.
They contribute to identifying the social, cultural and civil development needs of the community of reference, also through studies and research. Jointly with the consular authorities, the regions and local authorities, as well as with bodies, associations and committees operating within the consular district, they also promote appropriate initiatives in matters pertaining to social and cultural life, with specific reference to youth participation, equal opportunities, social and educational assistance, vocational training, the recreational sector, sport and leisure.
The Committees are also called upon to cooperate with the consular authorities in protecting the rights and interests of Italian citizens residing in the consular district.
Following the April 2015 elections, there are currently 101 elective Committees, in addition to 5 ones appointed by consular authorities. The Committees are geographically distributed as follows: 47 are in Europe, 42 in the Americas, 10 in Asia and Oceania and 7 in Africa.