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Assemblea Generale – Meeting informale per il briefing del Segretario Generale sul “Call to Action for Human Rights”

Discorso pronunciato dall’Ambasciatrice Mariangela Zappia, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, al meeting informale della plenaria per il briefing del Segretario Generale, Antonio Guterres, sul “Call to Action for Human Rights”.—


Thank you very much Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Mr. Secretary-General,

I align myself with the statement delivered by the Representative of the European Union, and I would like to add a few remarks in my national capacity.

Mr. Secretary-General, your call to action was a timely initiative that Italy, as an active member of the Human Rights Councilhad the privilege to welcome since the very beginning. We support it in its entirety, firmly believing that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

We are aware that the progress achieved must never be taken for granted. It is constantly under attack and needs to be nurtured every day.

While hitting the most vulnerable and marginalized people, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore some instances that demand our attention more than ever: the right to health, which includes ensuring fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to people in all countries, and the right to a clean, safe, healthy and sustainable environment. The need to devote our attention to the global challenges characterizing the world we are living in became all the more evident during the past year, showing that the scope and the effectiveness of our action in promoting and protecting human rights should be universal: a global interconnection of the economy and of the digital information, as well as global environmental disasters and health fragility, characterize the world we are living in.

On these principles Italy builds its participation in the Human Rights Council day by day, fighting against all forms of discrimination, and carrying out initiatives to safeguard human rights. On the same principle, Italy is developing its action as presidency of G20, the Co-presidency of CoP26 and with the organization of the World Health Summit in May together with the European Commission.

We remain engaged in protecting the most vulnerable and marginalized people: the persons with disabilities, older persons, children and women who, although severely affected by the current crisis, showed their strength and courage everywhere in the world. We will continue to stand up for their rights.

Promoting gender equality, women’s empowerment and fighting against all forms of gender-based violence are high on our agenda, and Italy is thoroughly engaged to make sure the upcoming CSW provide a solid occasion to be ambitious. We strongly support the international campaigns for the eradication of harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation and child, and early forced marriage. Restrictive measures adopted by Governments in response to the pandemics led to an increase in sexual and gender-based violence against women, in particular domestic violence. Italy has been working with determination ever since, strengthening the efforts to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women, also by ensuring that a gender-responsive approach is applied in designing the national response to the health emergency.

A sustained effort is needed to eradicate racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance, and all forms of discrimination, including when based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Italy is staunchly engaged in the prevention of all forms of violence against LGBTI persons and in the promotion of their rights.

Mr. Secretary General, in your Call to Action you rightly stressed the importance of civil society and Human Rights defenders and to this end we have joined the statement delivered by the PR of Denmark on behalf of a cross-regional group of Countries.

Ensuring the full and meaningful participation of youth in the UN processes is of the essence. Taking up on the call from young people all around the world, Italy decided to invest in their contribution and decided to convene the “Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition” event in September, back to back with the Pre-COP, in Milan.

Mr Secretary General, human rights need promotion and protection worldwide. In this fight, there is no time to waste, no compromise to accept. We are aware that new challenges arise including those to the environmental sustainability.

It is our responsibility as Member States, together with the UN System, to live up to the hopes and expectations generated by the Call to Action. We will continue to call for its full implementation and to actively support it.

Before concluding Mr President of the General Assembly, Mr Secretary General, allow me to remember Luca Attanasio, Ambassador of Italy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci and their Congolese driver, Moustapha Milambo, who were assassinated while precisely on a mission to protect Human Rights, the right to food, the right to education. Together with the World Food Programme they were on their way to visit a school feeding program financed by Italy in a remote region in eastern Congo. I wish to remember them here today. They were the embodiment of what action for Human Rights means. They paid the extreme sacrifice.

Thank you.