Statement delivered by Italy at the Security Council Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Upholding international law within the context of the maintenance of international peace and security” —
Italy aligns itself with the statement to be delivered momentarily by the European Union. We thank today’s briefers and congratulate Poland for this open debate which revolves around a crucial issue emphasizing the role law must play in international relations, in particular when peace and security are at stake.
International law must be the common language of our relationships. If we fail to uphold it, the consequences, especially in the light of modern weapons and present challenges, can be very serious and potentially devastating for the future of mankind.
Sovereignty of course is at the heart of international law. And yet sovereignty does not and cannot imply that anyone can be above the law. Today we must strive to uphold and promote a responsible sovereignty aimed at the wellbeing of people, in a holistic perspective. Sovereignty as accountability to present and future generations, protecting people, all people, without discrimination, in full equality.
Naturally, States have broad discretion in the choice of mechanisms to settle disputes and tackle challenges to peace and security. It is however imperative that disputes are addressed and solved peacefully. There are too many disputes that remain unsolved and situations in which States do not engage in meaningful talks. States should show good faith and good will to address issues and settle their divergences, including through non judicial means, provided these are inspired by adherence to fundamental legal principles.
As a follow up to the 2012 High Level Meeting on the Rule of Law, Italy accepted the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with Article 36 (2) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. We encourage all States to consider doing the same so as to place international law even more solidly at the center of international relations.
This is an objective that we must pursue all together, each individual Member State, this Council, the other organs of the Organization, in other words the International Community as a whole. We all have a duty to respect and promote respect for recognized international public goods. International law is our compass in identifying and preserving these common goods, and in further promoting the most fundamental legal principles. Italy, including during its OSCE Chairmanship in 2018, promotes respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, which are aspects that are indissolubly tied to our security. In this regard, we shall promote the universality and indivisibility of all fundamental rights, in addition to combating all forms of discrimination and intolerance.
This year we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Genocide Convention and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the 70th Anniversary of the International Law Commission, which – on an exceptional basis – is meeting in New York these days to mark this Anniversary. It is also the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Accountability for serious international crimes, particularly those that threaten fundamental and universally recognized norms, is one of those areas where the International Community should be more united.
In situations where peace and security are at stake, if this Council fails to uphold international law, there are strong risks that more chaos and disorder will ensue.
When the Council does not act, for example because of divergences among its permanent members, there are situations where other organs ultimately have to step in. This is what happened with the establishment of the International Independent Impartial Mechanism for crimes committed in Syria since 2011 which we support.
The Security Council could strongly contribute to strengthen our collective engagement to ensure respect for international law, as it did when it established the ICTY and ICTR, as well as their successor institution the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals: Today, the Council could promote accountability, for example, by referring to the ICC situations in which war crimes and crimes against humanity are perpetrated and by supporting the Court, by limiting veto powers in case of mass atrocities or by establishing appropriate subsidiary organs and/or procedures to provide for prompt and effective follow up on reports of serious violations of fundamental rules of international law.
Upholding international law has a unique preventive power. We must work together to reinforce such a power by holding accountable those who violate the international norms regulating our relations. I thank you.