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The Security Council

Italy in the Security Council

The Security Council is the executive body of the United Nations responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. It consists of five permanent members with veto power (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) and ten members elected to biennial terms.

Italy has been elected to the Security Council for seven terms (1959-1960; 1971-1972; 1975-1976; 1987-1988; 1995-1996; 2007-2008; and 2017-2018). During the election of members of the Security Council for 2017-2018, Italy and the Netherlands decided to split the term, as a sign of unity and solidarity among the Countries of the European Union also within the United Nations framework. Italy occupied the seat in 2017 and handed it off in 2018 to the Netherlands. The close collaboration between our Countries on the basis of the split term continued throughout 2018.

296 formal meetings, 176 consultations, 24 informal meetings, 5 missions, 61 resolutions, 27 presidential statements and 93 press statements: these are the numbers for the Security Council in 2017, to which Italy contributed actively in upholding its national priorities as well as the values of multilateralism.

At the heart of our commitment is a concept of security based on the strong link between stability, development and respect for human rights, which we have applied to the main crisis situations before the Security Council, starting with those closest to us and in which Italy is playing a major role: Libya, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Sahel, and East Africa.

Today’s challenges to international peace and security – terrorism and violent extremism, human trafficking, smuggling, migrations, climate change – demand a consistent international response anchored to multilateralism. This is a priority that guided our action in the Security Council and that is reflected in the UN reform project promoted by Secretary-General Guterres, which Italy supports wholeheartedly. The goal is to make the UN system as a whole more nimble, flexible and integrated, also by strengthening partnerships with regional and sub-regional organizations, based on the principle of subsidiarity, and the role of civil society, including young people and women.

It is along these guidelines that we focused on the complexity and interconnectedness of the challenges affecting the Mediterranean today, in Libya in particular, and drew attention on cross-cutting issues that are priorities for our Country, such as refugees, human trafficking, and the protection of cultural heritage. Italy proposed two resolutions adopted unanimously by the Security Council: the first on combatting human trafficking, which dedicates unprecedented attention to supporting victims and prioritizes their rights; the second, on the protection of cultural heritage and combatting trafficking in and the destruction of cultural property in conflict situations, which Italy promoted together with France. We are also founders and co-chair with Cyprus of the Group of Friends for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, launched in April 2008.

Italy is committed to a reform of peace-keeping operations aimed at improving their effectiveness and adapting them to the changing needs of the affected Countries. At our initiative, the Council adopted a resolution that highlights the role of the police component in peace-keeping operations, also through the training of blue helmets, to strengthen the protection of civilians, assist local institutions in the fight against organized crime and counter gender-based violence.

Finally, we were the first to introduce in the Security Council the issue of the environmental impact of UN missions. Also in this area so relevant and significant within the framework of the reform of UN peacekeeping, Italy is continuing its commitment beyond the Security Council, in its role as initiator and co-chair, together with Bangladesh, of a dedicated Group of Friends established in February 2018.


Security Council Reform

A more democratic, representative, inclusive, transparent and effective UN Security Council: these are the principles that inspire a reform awaited for more than 20 years. They have been translated into various proposals aimed at expanding the Council and modifying its internal composition; improving its working methods; regulating its instruments, including veto power; and fostering a more balanced relationship between the Council and the General Assembly.

Ever since the 1993 creation of the Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council reform (OEWG), Italy has played a leading role boosting the reflection on the issue.

In the early 90s, upon initiative of Ambassador Francesco Paolo Fulci (19 March 1931 – 21 January 2022, Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN from 1993 to 1999), Italy co-founded the so-called Coffee Club to oppose the expansion of the permanent membership of the Security Council, and push for the enlargement of non-permanent seats.

In 2005, building on that experience, Italy founded the “Uniting for Consensus” Group (UfC), which it continues to coordinate.

After the decision taken in 2008 by the General Assembly to wrap up the work of the OEWG and move on to intergovernmental negotiations, in 2009, by agreement with Colombia, Italy presented a reform project based on the creation of a new category of longer-term seats and a modification in working methods. More recently, in 2014, in the search for a compromise solution with Countries favorable to the establishment of new permanent seats, Italy announced a further modification in the negotiating platform, by agreement with the other UfC Countries, which contemplates the possibility of immediate reelection for the holders of the longer-term seats on the Council.

More information on this topic and on Uniting for Consensus Group can be found here.