Security Council Open Debate on
“The Promotion and Strengthening of the Rule of Law in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security: the Rule of Law among Nations”
12 January 2023
Statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Italy, Amb. Maurizio Massari
Your Excellency, Mr. President,
Italy aligns itself to the statement delivered by the European Union and to the statement delivered by Austria on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Rule of Law.
Let me also commend Japan for assuming the Presidency of the Security Council and convening today’s open debate. We welcome this opportunity to focus on the rule of law in international relations as a key ingredient to ensuring peaceful and just relations among nations and peoples.
Ten years after our Heads of State and Government gathered at the UN Headquarters to reaffirm their “solemn commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and justice, and to an international order based on the rule of law”. Unfortunately, that solemn and unanimous pledge remains unfulfilled.
In fact, as we gather today, those foundations are being shaken by the brutal war of aggression waged by Russia against Ukraine.
Italy continues to stand firm in defense of the Charter of the United Nations, of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, and of the self-determination of peoples.
A multilateral system of peaceful relations among States based on the rule of law requires constant and long-term commitment in five different respects.
Firstly, it requires strict adherence to international legal obligations, whether deriving from treaties or from customary international law. Compliance with international legal obligations is not a matter of choice; it is mandatory for all! That applies also to the obligations stemming from the Charter of the United Nations, including those of a procedural nature aimed at ensuring the proper functioning of the UN Security Council.
Secondly, breaches of international law committed by States, especially when related to peremptory norms, must bear consequences. The UN Charter, in particular its Chapter VII, as well as the customary law on international responsibility codified by the International Law Commission, set out those legal consequences. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that they do not remain on paper.
Thirdly, individuals responsible for gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law must be held accountable. In this vein, Italy remains convinced that a universal, independent and impartial judicial institution, such as the International Criminal Court, complementing the efforts of national authorities, is a key instrument to fighting impunity. Effective cooperation between the ICC and the Security Council is also essential if we want to end impunity.
Fourthly, disputes that are likely to endanger international peace and security must be settled peacefully in accordance with Article 33 of the UN Charter. That includes resorting to international courts and tribunals and abiding by their judgments and decisions. In particular, the International Court of Justice plays a critical role in promoting the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and contributes to the development and strengthening of international law as a fundamental condition for stability. Therefore, the cooperation between the ICJ and the Security Council must also be strengthened in accordance with the Charter.
Fifthly and finally, the codification and progressive development of international law must be pursued as a means to achieve legal certainty, good governance and to adapt the law to the ever-changing realities of international relations. Italy continues to support the important work of the International Law Commission and of the Sixth Committee of the GA in this respect, including in important areas such as the law of State responsibility.
Ten years have passed since we declared at the highest political level our commitment to the rule of law in international relations. It is now time to act.
The international community can continue to count on Italy in this collective effort to reinforce the rule of law in international relations, including through a reform of the United Nations, aimed at making the Organization – and this very body – more democratic, representative, accountable, transparent and effective.
I thank you.