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Keynote Speech by Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani at the UNGA78 Side Event: “Children’s Rights in the Digital Environment”


Good evening, everybody. I’m very happy to be here and I want to also thank the European Parliament of the group of children’s rights, the United Kingdom and the UNODC, and the Italian embassy to the UN for organizing this event.

The defense of children’s human rights in the digital environment is a key priority. The children are the future. Education is crucial and this is a very important moment for children’s rights in the information era in light of the approval of the resolution of the rights of children in the digital environment next December at the UN General Assembly. Children are exposed to new threats as the internet service evolves. One in three internet users globally is a child. This is why it is very important to work all together. Politics, of course, institutions, of course. We need also to talk with the families. It is important at home to protect the young people, because this starts in the family, to look at what they are doing every day, every night. When they play with the computer, we need to control them not because we want to put them under control or to reduce the freedom of our sons and daughters but because it is important to protect, the danger is in every field, in every message. When you are very young, to receive these messages is very dangerous.

It is also at school: the professors need to explain to the young people the danger. I think when you are very young it’s important not only to play with the Internet. We need to also reduce the time for the exposition to the messages coming from the computer. We need to use sport, we need to use education, we need also to explain to the young people that it’s important to read books, it is important to study, not only using their computer. This is very important.

Of course, for many families it’s easier to put their son or daughter in front of the computer, because it’s easier, no problems at this moment but probably this young man and this young woman will have a lot of problems in the future. For this, we need also to reduce the timing. Of course, it is important to study today to use the Internet. This is our modern life. When I was young the problem was not the computer, now it is important but we need to reduce the timing. Not all day, not all day in front of the computer. This is a mistake. For this, we need to explain to the family. Also the states, the decision makers of the civil society, and service providers must protect children from inappropriate materials and dangerous contact with others or privacy violations.

States have a legal duty to safeguard children. At the same time, we have to facilitate the children’s access to the Internet, protect their privacy and create self-expression and they assure that they can recognize potential dangers, this is important, to recognize potential dangers and know what to do about them. In Italy, we established the National Observatory For Childhood And Adolescence, eight coordinated central administrations regions, local authorities, and associations, dealing with children to make their protection effective.

The nation will approve the fifth National Plan Of Action For Young Girls And Boys between the ages from 12 to 17 participating in consultation for the development of the plan. Now, they will contribute to its implementation along with the observatory in line with our traditional commitment to children’s rights. Together with other EU and South American countries, Italy presents in the UN General Assembly the Vienna Biennial Resolution On Trade Rights with different focuses in this year.

I’m grateful to the European Union for the presentation of children’s rights in the digital environment. This resolution is important because the national governments and lawmakers will take this action to protect children from the risks of technology and the digital environment. Italy will take proactive action to make the resolution effective once approved to protect our children. But they want to underline the importance of the cooperation between institutions, schools, families and the Sports Center. All together we are involved in the education of the new generation. For this is important to send to young people the same message because they are the future. The same messages, this is very very important. Of course, the situation is that we need to have modern children but at the same time, we need to have for the future strong men and strong women. This is important for our society. The future of our society is the young people.

For this, thank you very much for organizing this event with us. Thank you very much for your participation. Count on me, count on Italy, count also on Italian Mission to the United Nations, thank you.