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General Assembly

General Assembly

The plenary body of the United Nations, in which all Member States are represented on an equal footing, the General Assembly meets for the regular annual session, special sessions, and emergency special sessions. The Assembly can debate any question that falls under the purposes of the United Nations and issue recommendations to Member and non-Member States alike and to other UN bodies. On the issue of the maintenance of peace, its functions are limited by the terms of the Charter, which assigns the main responsibility for this area to the Security Council. The Assembly approves the Organization’s budget and divides the expenses among Member States. It decides on the admission of new Members, the suspension and expulsion of existing Members, the selection of non-permanent members to the Security Council, and the election of Members of the Economic and Social Council. It can also establish its own subsidiary bodies. The Assembly’s action has been particularly decisive in the area of decolonization, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the development of environmental law. It has made a fundamental contribution to the codification and progressive development of international law.

The General Assembly is the main forum for Italy’s action at the United Nations, which is concentrated on the priority themes where our Country has stood out for its leadership role and its vocation for dialogue and mediation. They include the following areas:

Human Rights: As a promoter of multilateralism and of an international rules-based order, Italy centers its foreign policy, multilateral and bilateral, on an approach that prioritizes respect for the individual and the promotion and protection of his or her rights and fundamental freedoms. It is on the strength of these principles that Italy presented its candidature for the Human Rights Council and it was a member for the 2019-2021 term. At the UN our commitment has taken the form of initiatives and campaigns in support, for example, of the rights of women and children, such as the campaigns against female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and the exploitation of child soldiers. In 2007 Italy proposed the first General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on the application of the death penalty. Thanks also to our wide-ranging commitment to raise Member States’ awareness of this issue, the resolution, adopted every two years, was approved in 2020 with 123 votes in favour, the highest number ever obtained since 2007. In the current year, Italy and Qatar chaired the Group of Friends of Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Thanks to the Group’s action, in 2018 the General Assembly held the first formal debate on R2P.

Terrorism and organized crime: Committed at the national and international levels to the implementation of the Global Strategy against Terrorism, the international framework defined by the General Assembly in 2006 to counter the phenomenon, Italy has also participated actively in its review process, which takes place every two years, most recently in New York in June 2018. Italy has expressed its strong commitment also in resolutions that address the protection of human rights in the context of counter-terrorism initiatives. In addition, our Country is the promoter of an annual General Assembly resolution on organized crime, which represents the main instrument for the implementation of the UN program for crime prevention and criminal justice, defined by the Palermo Convention against Organized Crime and its Protocols. A major contribution was made by Italy toward the positive outcome of the negotiations of the resolutions on the topic of fighting corruption and the abuse of narcotic substances. Finally, in April 2018 Italy was a driving force in establishing a Group of Friends for the Protection of Cultural Heritage from Illegal Trafficking and Destruction at the hands of terrorist groups and in conflict situations.

Sustainable Development: Implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, climate change and protection of the environment are areas in which Italy has traditionally played a leading role, through initiatives that reflect both its commitment at the national level for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the targets set by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its long established cooperation with the developing Countries most vulnerable to climate change, in particular, the Countries of the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa as well as the Small Island Pacific States (SIDS). The activities that we have promoted include the so-called 10×20 Initiative, inspired by Goal 14 of Agenda 2030 on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources, and Target 20, which provided for the conservation of at least 10% of marine areas by 2020.