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20esimo anniversario della Dichiarazione sulla protezione dei difensori dei diritti umani

Intervento della Rappresentante Permanente Amb. Zappia al “High-level plenary meeting to mark the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”


Madam President,
Mr. Secretary General,
High Commissioner Bachelet,
Ms. Soreide (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway),
Mr. Forst (Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders),
Excellencies, dear colleagues.

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

When three months ago the President of the General Assembly first asked the Permanent Representatives of Argentina, Norway and Italy to conduct consultations with the Membership to define the scope and modalities of today’s High-Level Meeting, I knew the road ahead would not be easy. At the same time, I felt that, by accepting this request, Italy could make a solid contribution to setting the conditions for this important event. So we are honored to have been able to help the Office of the President of the General Assembly organize this Meeting, which I am sure will enhance our reflection on the many challenges facing Human Rights Defenders.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, as well as the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making this a golden opportunity to highlight the UN’s role in promoting human rights and the rights of human rights defenders.

Indeed, we believe that multilateral fora, such as the UN, the EU, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, represent the most effective tools to promote common standards, foster dialogue, and monitor respect for human rights worldwide.

Italy promotes an open and inclusive approach to human rights, focused on the ownership of local actors and cooperation with civil society. Our goal is to identify best practices for the protection of human rights defenders and to raise awareness of the related issues.

Following EU Guidelines, Italy has long been committed to creating a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders to operate free from hindrance and insecurity, which strengthens human rights and fundamental freedoms everywhere and in all circumstances. In this framework, our capital has issued clear instructions to all our Embassies to make periodic updates on the situation of human rights defenders in their country of accreditation, in order to closely monitor the situation on the ground.

The promotion of the rights of human rights defenders, and their protection from attacks, threats and all forms of reprisals, is also one of the priorities of Italy’s term in the Human Rights Council in the next three years. By raising awareness of human rights issues and encouraging higher standards of protection, they play a crucial role at the local, national, regional and international levels.

Madam President,

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) promotes an open dialogue with civil society organizations, in the belief that a vibrant civil society contributes to inclusive and pluralistic societies, stability and prosperity.

As part of this dialogue, in June 2018 the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation organized – under the Italian Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe – an international workshop on “The Protection of Human Rights Defenders: best practices and the role of Italy.” The event was an important occasion to exchange views and best practices with representatives of the OSCE/ODIHR, EU and civil society on the protection of human right defenders; analyze the EU and OSCE guidelines on HRDs with a view to improving their implementation; exchange best practices with other Countries; and identify proposals to improve coordination between OSCE, EU and Member States in HRD-related activities.

Finally, we urge the International Community to pay special attention to the protection of women as well as children human rights defenders. Women, children and their human rights’ defenders should be afforded additional support and heightened protection.

I thank you.