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Madam Chairperson,

Italy aligns itself with the statement made by the representative of the European Union and wishes to add a few remarks in a national capacity.

Human Rights are at the core of Italy’s foreign policy. Our support for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms is deeply rooted in Italian history, tradition and culture. We believe that the United Nations, because of its universal character, is the best forum for progress in this field, providing us with an opportunity that Italy is determined to seize.

In 1764 Cesare Beccaria wrote the ground-breaking On Crimes and Punishments, the first publication in history to provide a philosophical and scholarly rationale against the use of the death penalty. It is also the founding document of criminology. Beccaria’s legacy is enshrined in Italian culture today, and we honour this legacy by making the campaign for a moratorium on executions one of our highest priorities. For several years Italy has been at the forefront of the cross-regional coalition of countries that first brought the question of the death penalty to the 62nd UN General Assembly in 2007.

As the negotiations begin for the 5th Resolution establishing a moratorium on the use of death penalty, Italy is committed to the same inclusive and cooperative approach that has helped build and sustain momentum around the issue since 2007, increasing the number of votes in favour each year. The aim of the Resolution is not to indict any one system or culture. Understanding that each nation may have to move at a different pace, we are ready to offer our experience and technical support: a prestigious Law School, the International High Institute of Criminal Sciences of Syracuse, has offered to train judges from retentionist countries on how to move away from the application of the capital punishment.

Madam Chairperson,

When the rule of law fails to prevent widespread violence, the responsibility to protect comes into action. As a member of the Group of Friends of RtoP since its inception, Italy supports all initiatives to mainstream Human Rights in UN mechanisms in order to prevent armed conflicts as well as ethnic, social and religious strife. In this context, aware of the critical role that understanding and tolerance play in conflict prevention and strengthening peace and security, we will continue to be committed – as we traditionally are – to the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue. We are convinced that religion can play a pivotal role in preventing conflicts and has to become a main factor of stability. No division or discrimination can be justified on the basis of religion, which according to the Italian Constitution is a free choice.

We welcome the increased attention of the international community to the rights of persons with disabilities. Although significant progress has been made in recent years, much remains to be done to achieve the target of full inclusion of persons with disabilities. As nominated Deputy Chair of the Conference of State Parties to the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the year 2015, Italy will contribute actively to enhancing the effectiveness of the Conference and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities around the world.

These questions and the many others we are called on to discuss cannot be addressed by one country alone. Cooperation, dialogue, tolerance, mutual respect and understanding among all Member States, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, will be needed to promote recognition of and respect for all human rights. Italy, Madam Chairperson, is ready to play its part in this global endeavour.

Thank you.