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Assemblea Generale – Dibattito su “The responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”

Discorso pronunciato dall’Ambasciatore Stefano Stefanile, Vice Rappresentante Permanente e Charge’ d’Affaires a.i. dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, alla Riunione Plenaria dell’Assemblea Generale su “The responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”. —


Madame President,

Italy aligns itself with the statements delivered by the representative of the European Union and by the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica on behalf of the Group of Friends of R2P, and would like to add the following remarks in its national capacity.

Last year we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the principle of the Responsibility to Protect. Nevertheless, these remain challenging times for the protection of civilians. Beside some tangible progress in advancing atrocity prevention at the national and international level, we keep witnessing widespread violations of human rights and of the international humanitarian law, as shown in this year’s R2P report by the Secretary-General.

The Covid-19 outbreak has aggravated the suffering of people living in conflict zones. The restrictive measures adopted by States to prevent the spread of the pandemic often had a negative impact on humanitarian logistics and exacerbated socio-economic hardship, which is one of the primary triggers of atrocities.

Against this background, Italy, which remains a staunch supporter and advocate of the R2P principles, believes it is time to step up the efforts to advance this collective agenda.

Addressing the roots of atrocity crimes is key to advancing the R2P principles. The commitment of Member States to the Responsibility to Protect is first and foremost a commitment to prevent and mitigate the risk of the most heinous crimes being committed. Atrocities can and must be prevented. In this vein, it is essential to strengthen the tools for early warning, in order to effectively and promptly detect the first signals of disruption.

The systematic introduction of references to the protection of civilians in the mandates of peacekeeping operations is also necessary.

Furthermore, we advocate in favour of a cross-cutting strategy linking the different UN agendas, from the protection of civilians to women peace and security, from the sustainable development to the broader human rights agenda.

Keeping a gender perspective is also key, as women and girls are disproportionally affected by humanitarian crises, notably in contexts of forced displacement, and they are the main victims of the atrocities perpetrated in these contexts.

Strengthening civil society and building pluralistic and inclusive societies provides the best safety net from mass atrocities. We need to raise awareness among the younger generations on the importance of a widespread commitment to strengthening tools for the prevention and contrast of mass atrocities.

We welcome initiatives aimed at ensuring that the Security Council be able to effectively prevent or act in situations of mass atrocities, including the ACT code of conduct and the French-Mexican initiative on the use of veto in case of mass atrocities.

Along with the European Union and its Member States, we have designated a national Focal Point to advance the implementation of R2P, also across different administrations.
This year we renewed our financial support to the Office for the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, through a pledge of 100,000 euro, which adds up to similar contributions allocated in the previous years.

Madame President,

we believe the General Assembly should discuss these important issues regularly, in order to make sure we advance the agenda and further progress on the road to fully promoting and protecting human rights. In this vein, we cosponsored and will vote in favour of the draft Resolution aimed at including R2P as a permanent item in the annual agenda of the UN General Assembly, and we encourage other Members States to do so.

I thank you.