External contributor

Emma Bonino

Former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Emma Bonino is the former Italian Minister for International Trade and European Affairs. First elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1976, she has since served nearly continuously as a deputy either in the Italian or in the European Parliament. Between 1994 and 1999, she also served as European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Fisheries, Consumer Policy, Consumer Health Protection and Food Safety. As European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Emma Bonino was responsible for managing the European Union’s Emergency Aid Program (ECHO), which had an average yearly budget in excess of 800 million euros, of which almost one-third was channelled through United Nations agencies. As such, she forged deep ties with other major actors in the humanitarian field, including High Commissioner Ogata and her deputy, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, whom she met in the leadup to the “Humanitarian Summit” in Madrid, which she organised in December 1995. During therse years, she influenced the dominant humanitarian doctrine through her firm conviction that the delivery of humanitarian aid must go hand in hand with political action, in an integrated approach designed to ensure that humanitarian principles are respected at all times and do not become an alibi for inaction. As European Commissioner, Emma Bonino confronted the major man-made crises of the 1990s, which resulted in millions of refugees and displaced persons, including in the Great Lakes Region and in the Balkans.