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Mr. Executive Director,

Mr./ President

First, my congratulations to the new members of the Bureau and to you on your elections.

Italy is delighted to be back on the Board of UNICEF. We are strong supporters of UNICEF’s mission to strengthen the child-protection system and to improve the conditions of minors throughout the world. In Executive Director Anthony Lake UNICEF has a strong leader who believes not only in principles but in results. We applaud his focus on a “pro-equity strategy,” through the promotion of policies that strengthen services for minors and their families, especially in developing Countries.

On many issues to which Italy is committed by national vocation and the humanitarian traditions of our foreign policy, we turn to UNICEF. From maternal-infant health, to food and nutrition security, basic education, the protection of minors in conflict situations, and the fight against child labor and social exclusion, we see UNICEF as a fundamental partner.

Italy and UNICEF are working closely together on the campaign to end female genital mutilations/cutting. This is a priority issue for our foreign policy, which we have expressed also through our support, from the inception, of the joint UNFPA-UNICEF program. Most recently, in October we hosted in Rome an international conference on FGMs, in collaboration with these two Funds. More than thirty governments were represented together with exponents of civil society, parliaments, human rights organizations, regional intergovernmental organizations, and United Nations agencies. The participants reaffirmed their commitment to intensify global, regional and national efforts to achieve further progress in the implementation of the UN General Assembly’s 2012 resolution.

To draft effective programs that address the needs of minors, in both developed and developing Countries, we need good research and shared data. This is why Italy is so proud to host and help finance, in Florence, the Innocenti Research Center (IRC). The IRC has become a research and knowledge hub for all UNICEF activities globally. The Center conducts important research and knowledge-sharing activity, and develops a specific set of tools to do so. We encourage UNICEF and its funding partners to continue to provide support to this invaluable Center and its work also in the future.

In the new strategic plan, UNICEF accentuates the link between humanitarian and long-term development. This highlights UNICEF’s role as an actor in both the humanitarian and the development field, and thus as a key partner for the resilience agenda. We welcome the tangible step by UNICEF to set specific measurable targets for humanitarian action and the link /integration in the strategic plan 2014-2017.