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General Assembly – Plenary Meeting on “The responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, at the Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on “The responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” —

Madam Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Italy aligns itself with the statements delivered by the European Union and by Denmark on behalf of the Group of Friends on R2P .

At the outset Italy would like to express her gratitude for the advocacy on R2P that the Secretary-General continues to provide, including through his annual reports.

I would also like to congratulate the Special Advisor, Karen Smith, for the active leadership and to thank the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, for his tireless effort.

We welcomed the inclusion of the “R2P” in the formal agenda of UN General Assembly’s 73rd session and we support its inclusion as a standing item in the General Assembly agenda.

The principle of a shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes should continue to inspire our action today, while we face a general erosion of the respect for international law. The Security Council has a clear responsibility in this respect. We support the ACT Code of Conduct and the French and Mexican declaration on voluntary restraint of the use of the veto.

We support the Secretary-General’s 2019 report on R2P. Prevention and early action are of the essence.

We need to implement this principle by strengthening of the rule of law and ensuring accountability for past atrocity crimes by supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 16, but also by securing proper livelihoods, as the economic risk is one of the main triggers for atrocity crimes.

Addressing the root causes of such crimes is a big part of the solution. This is why we see great merit in a cross-cutting strategy linking the different UN agendas, from the protection of civilians to women peace and security, from the sustainable development to the wider human rights agenda and peacekeeping.

Prevention is also about detecting the early signals of potential disruption. Atrocity crimes do not happen overnight – as the Special Envoy correctly pointed out – but they are carefully prepared and organized. Hate speech plays a big role in the build up to atrocity crimes. We therefore commend the leadership of USG Adama Dieng in the elaboration of a UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech. A much needed and timely step in the right direction.

We need to strengthen the civil society and recognize the paramount role of women in building pluralistic, inclusive societies that provide the best antibodies against mass atrocities. Protecting women is a categorical imperative, especially when sexual and gender based violence are increasingly used as a deliberate political strategy by state and non-state perpetrators.

We are all called upon to step up our efforts to defend human rights and uphold our responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Italy continues to do its part: we have consistently been a strong supporter of R2P on the Security Council and as former chairs of the R2P Group of friends, and we remain fully committed at a time of escalating international tensions.

As the top Western Troop-Contributing Country for peacekeeping operations, we believe that effective protection of civilians requires properly trained troops, adequate equipment, and a strong political commitment.

Since 2005, through the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units in Vicenza, COESPU, we have trained more than 10,000 units of police personnel, many of whom are deployed in peacekeeping operations in Africa.

We joined the Circle of Leadership against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse launched by the Secretary-General, and we are the largest contributor to the UN Trust Fund of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

We have appointed a R2P national Focal Point and we encourage all Member States and Regional Organizations to do the same.

Finally, at the end of last May, Italy hosted a Conference in Rome on SDG 16 in preparation of the coming HLPF, and we were pleased to welcome the Special Envoy, who stressed the fundamental link between SDG16 and the R2P.

Madam Chair, Italy will continue to work in this direction, and will keep on supporting the UN’s efforts to ensure that our founding values remain at the basis of our societies.

I thank you.