Statement delivered by Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Transnational organized crime at sea as a threat to international peace and security” —
We would also like to express our appreciation for your decision to hold, at the beginning of your Presidency, today’s debate on a very relevant issue pertaining to international peace and security. Many thanks also to the Executive Director of UNODC and the Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission for their interventions.
Transnational organized crime at sea is a serious threat to international security and international and regional cooperation are indispensable to tackle this scourge in all its multiple dimensions, including trafficking of persons, weapons, drugs and cultural artifacts. Maritime security is a priority interest of Italy and we are deeply involved in fostering security and supporting the development of related capabilities of partner Countries, particularly in Africa.
There is indeed a clear need for comprehensive capacity-building assistance to African countries in areas such as maritime governance, coast guard authorities and functions, disaster relief, maritime search and rescue, and maritime information sharing and integration. At the same time, efforts are also required to improve legislative, judicial and prosecutorial capacities.
The development of a sustainable maritime economy is also essential in order to effectively counter transnational organized crime at sea.
Among the various forms of organized crime at sea, the trafficking of persons is a particular heinous crime that the entire international community is called to fight against. In line with, inter alia, Res. 2388 of 2017, we need all countries to work together, at the bilateral and multilateral level, with a view to:
– disrupt criminal networks which take advantage of migrants;
– promote development and capacity building in countries of departure and transit;
– address the root causes, thus preventing the smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of persons at sea;
– and create sustainable mechanisms that ensure a much needed shared responsibility among countries receiving migrants.
This is what Italy has done in the past two years through its “Africa Fund”, from which considerable resources were used to assist African countries in dealing with migration flows with a three-pronged approach: 1) financing the work of international organizations, such as IOM and UNHCR, in transit countries, in order to improve the migrants’ conditions; 2) cooperating with countries of departure and transit to build the institutional capacities needed to disrupt criminal networks and provide assistance to migrants; 3) increasing development cooperation activities in countries of departure and transit, so that the root causes of migration can be effectively addressed.
At the multilateral level, Italy continues to lead operation EU-NAV-FOR MED “Sophia” and is one of the largest contributors to the European Union Trust Fund for Africa. By pooling together financial resources and initiatives from all EU Member States, the European Union has proven how effective its shared activities can be in building robust regional institutions and multi-agency capacity that can guarantee security at sea and the rule of law.
Italy actively participates also in important counterpiracy operations. In the Horn of Africa, we have been participating in operation EU-NAV-FOR “Atalanta” since its inception, continuously providing one or two naval assets, including the flagship. In order to address the root causes of piracy off the coasts of Somalia, Italy remains committed to the institution-building process of the country, including through the contribution to the EU Training Mission and the EU Capacity Building Mission.
In the Gulf of Guinea, the recent activity of an Italian Navy ship announced the start of new capacity building and cooperation programs with national authorities from within the region. Let me also remind the two meetings of the Friends of the Gulf of Guinea that the Italian G7 Presidency organized in 2017 in Rome and Lagos, as well as our support to the Luanda Declaration on peace and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
I would like to conclude – Mr. President – by stressing Italy’s commitment to working together with its partners, especially African countries, in fighting transnational organized crime at sea and tackling the root causes of these crimes. At the same time, we deem it essential to fully respect and encourage local ownership. In this spirit, we stand ready to improve information sharing, increase legal cooperation and cooperate on institution and capacity building.
I thank you, Mr. President.