The Scope and Means of Action of the United Nations Security Council as Seen by Italy during its “Shared Membership”

Italy has a long tradition of taking public stances on issues concerning the United Nations (UN) in general, and the Security Council (SC) in particular. The most important of such issues is perhaps the reform of the SC, a hotly debated question on which Italy has been taking a leading position for many years, promoting a series of proposals around which a group known as “Uniting for Consensus” has gathered.[1] This very same theme has been discussed by Italian representatives at the UN also in 2017 and 2018, when they reiterated and further clarified their country’s view.[2] Those years also correspond to the biennium that saw Italy and the Netherlands share a split non-permanent seat at the SC (the former being a member in 2017). Therefore, Italy has recently had many occasions to express its ideas on the action of the SC.

It is well known that the role of the SC has been progressively expanding since the end of the Cold War, so that nowadays its activities have a far wider scope than that envisioned in 1945 by the drafters of the UN Charter. Such legal developments can be said to be, by now, largely accepted by the international community, and even those States that occasionally veto or anyhow oppose certain SC resolutions, sometimes do that inconsistently and by putting forth political rather than legal justifications.[3] This notwithstanding, the issue of how far-reaching the powers of the SC are remains the subject of scholarly debate and is still of some practical importance for States. From this perspective, it may be useful to review Italy’s stances on the action of the SC.

The Means of the Security Council

One of the most striking features of the Italian position is the attempt to tear down the walls both between concepts and between phenomena. That is, Italy takes what it calls a “holistic approach when dealing with peace and security issues”,[4] one that admits that “no silos structures can work”.[5] This understanding of security finds direct application in the field of peacekeeping (an area in which Italy has always shown interest[6]), where it drifts into the notion of “peace continuum” advanced by the UN Secretary-General. This expression surfaced more than once in the speeches of Italian representatives, and though it was described in slightly different terms on different occasions, it seems that at its heart lies the idea that, in peace and security matters, “the quest for political solutions must be [the] primary goal”.[7]

More specifically, according to the Italian Government, “[w]e need a more holistic approach and peace operations should be declined in the broader context of ‘Prevention’, ‘Peace Building’ and ‘Sustaining Peace’ in a sort of ‘peace continuum’”.[8] Such a continuous line connects many points in the same path, “from prevention to peacekeeping, from post-conflict recovery to inclusive national reconciliation and sustainable development processes”.[9] Thus, what emerges is a wide-ranging and perhaps a bit blurred understanding of peacekeeping, an umbrella-concept that covers stages that are usually considered as distinct in specialized literature: indeed, “protection of civilians, conflict prevention, peacebuilding and sustaining peace have become the fundaments of peacekeeping today”.[10] Consistently, Italy has defined as “light peacekeeping” a mission entrusted with the task of sustaining the rule of law, justice and human rights.[11]

Indeed, the Italian Government is willing to endorse “more agile and light footprint mission[s] based on specialized police and civilian units”:[12] the country’s commitment to such an approach found confirmation in its promotion of UNSC Resolution 2382, which it took as an example of how “peacekeeping missions must be equipped to focus on capacity-building” by including a police component.[13] In this regard, the Government repeatedly noted that “we have to […] include Policing as an integral part of the mandates of peace operations”.[14] “Such a move would help […] to better focus on so called ‘bridging tasks’ between peace keeping and peace building, such as stabilization, rule of law, justice and the protection of civilians”[15] – the last of these tasks being “one of the main functions of peacekeeping operations” in accordance with the Kigali principles, which Italy subscribed[16] – but it would also “facilitat[e] the transition from peacekeeping to more robust development assistance”.[17]

In their statements, the Italian representatives have often linked policing to a strategy of prevention.[18] In the same vein, they called for more financial resources to Special Political Missions, which are underfinanced if compared to peacekeeping operations but should help prevent them,[19] and underlined that “mechanisms of ‘early warning’ and ‘early action’ for prevention are instrumental to raise awareness and to adopt an ‘atrocity prevention’ lens in possible conflict situations”.[20] Also, they said that

UN Member states and the UN Secretariat should enable UN peacekeeping operations to improve their analytical skills by providing them with adequate tools that can help in identifying threats as they emerge. Having better awareness of emerging threats can allow for a greater capacity to effectively respond before a situation escalates. In this context, tools such as the UN Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes can assist in the analysis of conditions that may increase the likelihood of atrocities or trigger their commission.[21]

It thus seems that, with the exclusion of more robust mandates that include tasks typically performed by peace-enforcement missions,[22] peacekeeping is to be intended as a framework activity within which the operations in place change whenever required by the circumstances:

It is thus key to define an entry strategy, clear attainable objectives and measurable benchmarks for all the parties involved. At the same time, clear benchmarks for launching a responsible and coordinated exit strategy should be provided at the onset to prevent ‘mission creep’ and the potential relapse of conflicts. These benchmarks must take in full consideration the overall final and longterm objective of ‘peace continuum’. As a result, mandates should not be seen as crystalized. They should be flexible to evolve not only as the situation in the Country and in the region evolves, but also as new challenges and threats to peace and security emerge. In this context, regular mission reviews are also key.[23]

In this regard, the Italian Government put forward clear proposals on the working methods of the SC, calling for actual participation of all relevant stakeholders.[24] It remarked that “[r]eceiving information or being update from the pen holder […] is not the same as to allow all 15 members to have a real positive impact on the same very issue” [sic].[25] More specifically, it stressed “the need that negotiations between Council members, in particular when renewing peacekeeping mandates, be conducted in the most inclusive and transparent way possible and that due consideration be given to the position of TCCs [(troop-contributing countries)] and of the countries hosting peacekeeping missions”.[26] For instance, with reference to the UNIFIL mission, the Government said that, “as troop contributor, [Italy] reserve[d] the right to assess the measures that the Secretary-General may envisage according to what is requested” by one of the operational paragraphs of the relevant SC resolution.[27]

This emphasis on participation, however, extends beyond the stage of implementation or review of measures by the SC. It also concerns the preliminary phases, starting from agenda-setting:

The Security Council should adopt more frequently the informalmeeting format to discuss issues that, while not being formally on the agenda, still deserve its attention, and it should be briefed more frequently by the relevant civil society actors. As a member of the Peacebuilding Commission, Italy believes that inviting the chairs of country configurations to brief the Council is a practice that should be regularly pursued.[28]

The preparation of missions should also see the involvement of all actors concerned:

There must be a strong commitment to achieving the highest standards of conduct and discipline of UN peacekeepers, promoting trilateral initiatives between countries providing training, TCCs and PCCs [police-contributing countries], and donors, including efforts to prevent sexual abuses and exploitation. The long-term challenge consists in promoting self-sufficiency of TCCs and PCCs.[29]

The underlying idea is that only “local ownership of stabilization […] [can] prevent dependency on the missions”.[30] The same promotion of ownership – “while preserving the prerogatives of the Security Council”[31] – lies at the basis of a greater involvement of regional organizations, and in particular the African Union,[32] under Chapter VIII of the Charter. The “horizontal and evolving nature of [current security] threats”, together with the many comparative advantages that regional organizations have with respect to the UN, make “the implementation of the principle of subsidiarity […] essential”.[33] However, the main challenge for operations authorized by the SC but led by the African Union is still the lack of sustainable and predictable funding. To solve this problem, on several occasions the Italian Government stressed that it “remains in favor of using UN assessed contributions for African-led peace operations, provided that appropriate standards in terms of troop quality, training, equipment, financial transparency, human rights compliance, conduct and discipline are met”.[34] To this end, a reference framework for compliance with human rights and humanitarian law must be established.[35]

But peacekeeping is not the only tool available to the SC to promote international security. Addressing the topic of international crimes, the Italian Government said to “believe th[e] Council should adopt a more structured approach in dealing with international criminal justice issues. […] [J]ustice and accountability need to become an integral part of the strategy and of the preventive action of this Council”.[36] Indeed, “[i]t is a fact that atrocity crimes continue to be committed and – even if the Council is unable to come to an agreement as to what reaction it should have when facing such crimes – it should at least give itself the instruments to consider situations from the angle of accountability”.[37]

Such instruments are varied. Peacekeeping operations may play an incidental role in bringing criminals to justice.[38] The identification of those responsible for the commission of international crimes is another option: speaking of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Italian Government maintained that the “Council has a shared responsibility to uphold the work of the [OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism]”[39] (another actor that has a say in the investigation and assistance of prosecution of international crimes being the UN General Assembly[40]). Individual sanctions against perpetrators of crimes could also be taken, by the SC or at regional level.[41] Other routes, however, are available, as suggested by the Government:

the Council could promote accountability, for example, by referring to the ICC [International Criminal Court] situations in which war crimes and crimes against humanity are perpetrated and by supporting the Court, by limiting veto powers in case of mass atrocities or by establishing appropriate subsidiary organs and/or procedures to provide for prompt and effective follow up on reports of serious violations of fundamental rules of international law.[42]

The Italian Government has devoted concrete efforts towards these ends. It subscribed the French-Mexican initiative on veto restraint in case of mass atrocities as well as the analogous Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.[43] It suggested to “reinforce the role of the informal working group on international tribunals”.[44] It urged recourse to international criminal justice “even when an obligation stricto sensu does not exist” for the SC.[45] It also stated that “serious violations of international humanitarian law and of relevant UNSC resolutions must be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators be brought to justice including, where applicable, through ICC referrals or other international tribunals”.[46]

The Scope of the Mandate of the Security Council

The potentially broad basis for action ratione materiae indicated in some of the quotations above[47] raises a further point of great interest, that is, the scope of the competence of the SC. Under Article 39 of the UN Charter, the SC can take action by exercising its binding powers only when international peace or internationalsecurity are at risk. Therefore, what is deemed to constitute a threat to peace or security determines the range of the binding powers of the SC. The issue is a slippery one, as it is hard to tell whether a given phenomenon is, in itself, a direct threat or, rather, it is merely conducive to that threat, without meeting the threshold or criteria to be defined as such. This notwithstanding, it is worth considering some views the Italian representatives have expressed on this question.

a) Terrorism

International terrorism falls evidently within the category of threats to security. However, on this issue the Italian Government has taken more specific stances. For example, in discussing the problem of foreign fighters, it maintained that “the Security Council should address the threat posed by returnees and relocators by considering the international best practices and provide comprehensive strategies and guidelines to help Member States understand how to reintegrate returnees, especially women and children”.[48] It also happened that the Government qualified as a risk a particular terrorist group, as when it said that “Boko Haram keeps representing a serious threat to peace and security”.[49] But one of Italy’s most interesting positions on this matter regarded the “attacks on critical infrastructures”, which may be “a transnational threat” needing “a transnational answer”.[50] On this, the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Vincenzo Amendola, put forth remarkable comments upon the notion of “attack”:

A key element of partnership is information exchange: the membership should be made aware of the nature of threats to a single Country, when they affect our collective security. […] We encourage a role for the UN in this domain, while fully respecting national sovereignty and prerogatives. […] Today, ICT [Information and Communication Technologies] has a decisive relevance in all infrastructures and it is both a means and a target of terrorism. We believe that we must have a broad understanding on what constitutes an ICT attack. We are already under attack when we are unable to detect and stop the planning of attacks online, as well as the propaganda of terrorist groups on the Internet. If we recognize that an attack is taking place when a plane or a truck are hijacked, so we must acknowledge that a different, subtler kind of attack is taking place when the network spaces are hijacked by terrorist organizations.[51]

The Italian Government also addressed the issue of the protection of cultural heritage, which it sees “as crucial to preventing conflicts and building a durable peace”.[52] Indeed, “[t]he destruction of cultural heritage, notably by terrorist groups and organized criminal networks […] has a broader relevance in the maintenance of international peace and security, one that goes beyond attacks by terrorist groups”.[53] Thus, it is not surprising that in April 2018 Italy and Cyprus established a Group of Friends on the protection of cultural property from terrorist groups and organized crime.[54] This is part of a broader strategy that also includes the adoption, in 2017, of UNSC Resolution 2347, co-sponsored by Italy and France and addressing for the first time the protection of cultural heritage in conflict areas (the resolution, in turn, is to be read together with Italy’s UNESCO based project of establishing the so-called Blue Helmets for Culture).

b) Transnational Crime

The issue of terrorism is linked to the wider context of transnational crime. On this, the Italian Government expressed its view by stating that, since 2001, the UN “has gained growing awareness of the seriousness of transnational organized crime, whether traditional or tied to terrorist purposes”. Indeed – the Italian representative went on – “[t]hese crimes cause great harm to s ociety, and in theirmost dangerous forms, impede sustainable development and threaten peace and security”.[55] “Effective action against international crime is therefore a central issue for the work of both the General Assembly and the Security Council”.[56]

The Government also detailed what it refers to: “[t]ransnational 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”.[57] The word “including” makes of this a non-exhaustive list. Trafficking in natural resources – whose cessation Italy once said to be “essential for peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”[58] – is also covered. But trafficking of weapons and migrants are the issues on which the country commented more often.

c) Trafficking of Weapons

Arms control is a classic security issue, and Italian representatives framed it in these terms more than once. Thus, the Government stressed that the “proliferation of nuclear weapons still represents a major threat to international security”,[59] and also that the “international community as a whole shares the responsibility to enforce the prohibition of chemical weapons and uphold the chemical international non-proliferation regime, which is vital for international peace and security”.[60] Both kinds of weapons belong to the broader category of weapons of mass destruction, which in Italy’s view pose “a growing threat to international peace and security”.[61] An indiscriminate harm to peace and security is also done by anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war.[62]

However, the Italian Government extended its judgment to conventional weapons. It maintained that “the illegal trafficking of weapons […] represents a threat to peace and security and undermines the stability of State institutions”[63] – although it deemed “important to recall […] the need to guarantee a clear-cut separation between the legal manufacture and marketing of arms from illegal phenomena that remove arms from the control of the authorities and contribute, among other things, to the financing and actions of criminal and terrorist groups”.[64] From a different standpoint, and even though it did not directly qualify the issue as a threat to security, the Government said to “understand fully the concerns, the security concerns, relating to the presence of non-authorized weapons in the area of operation and to other violations of Resolution 1701 by Hezbollah”.[65]

d) Human Trafficking and Migration

According to the Italian Government, the migration crisis in the Mediterranean contributes to a situation where “global security is at stake”;[66] in particular, human trafficking “entail[s] threats to the respect of fundamental […] human rights as well as to international peace and security”,[67] so that “combating human traffickers’ networks is a collective moral duty and a shared security priority”.[68] Therefore, the contribution of peacekeeping and special political missions in supporting host States’ efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in persons must be discussed.[69]

But human trafficking is part of a wider, multidimensional phenomenon: “major new crises […] have been causing massive displacement. This is one of the biggest challenges of international security […]. The refugee issue is linked to the ways armed conflicts have deepened in complexity over the last decade, often combining with the threats of human trafficking, transnational organized crime, rising violent extremism, sexual- and gender-based violence”.[70] This is why “the refugee issue is not just for the agencies, it is for the SC to tackle because it is clearly linked to insecurity situations”.[71] Indeed, the Italian Government recalled that

In one year of non-permanent membership of the Security Council, Italy has always tried to emphasize the virtuous interactions betweenthe mandate of UNHCR and the work of the Council […] taking stock of the implications of large movements of people for international peace and security and how the Council, in promoting and fostering prevention and resolution of conflicts, can be a pivotal partner in the search for solutions to the plight of refugees, the displaced, returnees and stateless persons.[72]

As always, the Government considers peacekeeping as part of the solution:

The Security Council can play an important role in preventing and stemming refugees crisis […] including when renewing or drafting peacekeeping missions’ mandates. In fact, as the High Commissioner has highlighted, peacekeeping can be a fundamental and extraordinary tools [sic] to protect refugees and migrants and to facilitate their relocation.[73]

e) Human Rights in General

The Italian view of human rights violations as a threat to security is, prima facie, quite unequivocal – an impression that is conveyed in particular by the country’s overt rejection of any concerns about the possibility that the SC could be acting ultra vires. Indeed, according to the Government “[t]he intimate link between violations of human rights and their repercussions on the maintenance of international peace and security cannot be denied. […] Hence we believe that this meeting [on the situation on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] fully falls within the scope and the mandate of the Security Council”.[74]

In 2017, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, Amb. Inigo Lambertini, dwelt upon the issue at length, by highlighting his country’s

holistic vision of ‘security’ in which peace, sustainable development and the respect of human rights reinforce each other. It is also consistent with the continuous growing attention the Security Council has progressively devoted to human rights, in acknowledgment of their relevance to the maintenance of international peace and security. There are different opinions as to whether human rights fall within the scope of action of this Council. While fully respecting the different mandates of relevant UN bodies, it is hard to deny the crucial relevance of human rights in our daily working [on] conflict prevention, conflict management and post-conflict scenarios prevention.

First, prevention. Human rights abuses are often the most effective early warning sign of instability, especially when they escalate into atrocity crimes. […] These specific issues can be valuable indicators and sources of information if captured as elements of early warning mechanisms for preventive action. Second, conflict management. Human rights violations are often one of the root causes of conflict and almost invariably one of its prominent features. […] ISIL and its affiliates, for instance, are using sexual violence as a terrorist tactic to advance their strategic and ideological objectives. This is why the Security Council has recognized the victims of sexual violence as victims of terrorism.

Children are increasingly employed as soldiers; for this reason the Council has a working group on Children in Armed Conflict. During Italy previous term in the Security Council in 2008, the Council adopted Resolution 1820, the first one to recognize the connection between international security and sexual violence. And today we should look into trafficking of human beings as well as trafficking in and destruction of cultural heritage as ways to undermine the fundamental rights of individuals and communities and as the outcome and a precursor for long term conflict and instability.

Third, post-conflict scenario. The Security Council has often been mindful of human rights violations to articulate its response either in deciding the mandate of its peacekeeping operations or adopting sanctions also on the ground of serious human rights violations. Against this backdrop, notwithstanding the State’s primary responsibility to respect human rights, we believe the Security Council has a role to play, in synergy with the UN bodies that have the primary task of monitoring and assessing human rights, in particular the Human Rights Council.[75]

He went further by making some operational suggestions along the abovementioned lines:

First, prevention needs information: the Security Council should devise, together with the Human Rights Council and other involved actors, a more systematic use of human rights information as an early warning mechanism, and as a crucial element of sustainable and long term armed conflict prevention efforts. Only if human rights become our DNA, will we be better equipped to effectively prevent and tackle crisis situations. We support the Human Rights Up Front Initiative — which aims to establish a cultural change, a mindset, that mainstreams human rights in all our work, including in the Security Council — as well as the Framework of Analysis, which aims to assess the risk of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing from an early warning perspective.

We therefore believe that the information provided to the Council by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, the Special Representatives on Children and Armed Conflicts and on Sexual Violence is extremely useful to better tackle crises we already follow, and to get meaningful insight into countries that are not on the agenda of the Security Council, but where the situation may deteriorate and escalate to violence. Their briefings to the Council should be done on a more regular basis.

As other Countries, Italy has joined a declaration to reinforce the cooperation between the human rights and the peace and security pillars and between the Security Council and the Human Rights Council. It is one of the objectives of our candidature to the Human Rights Council for the 2019 – 2021 term. For instance, we would welcome regular briefings by the President of the Human Rights Council to the Security Council. Two other informative tools at the disposal of this Council are visiting missions and Arria formulas. Visiting missions should include a human rights focus […]. Arrias provide the Council with additional information and interaction with civil society.

When he came to operational measures, Amb. Lambertini also stressed the importance of two strategies already mentioned above, sanctions and criminal justice, in addition to the usual reference to the role of peacekeeping:

Second, operational measures. When reacting to a conflict, the Security Council should provide peace operations with a strong human rights mandate, as is now often the case in light of the specific needs.

Sanctions are another tool used to address persistent patterns of human rights violations […]. A more systematic use of sanctions, rather than on a case-by-case basis, against individuals who have committed gross human rights violations could be also a strong deterrent in preventing new atrocities.

Third, accountability for the most serious crimes. This form of action may seem to come too late, after conflict erupts and crimes on a large scale are committed. However, if the Council acts consistently in bringing perpetrators to justice, justice itself can become a relevant dissuading tool for the prevention of human rights violations. […]

He concluded by addressing possible concerns about the risk of the SC encroaching upon the domestic jurisdiction of States:

We understand that at times Member States feel that such efforts are a form of interference that undermines national sovereignty. But what really threatens State sovereignty is violence and conflict – and the Council also has to help Member States to prevent their recurrence. To conclude: is there a situation on the agenda of this Council that does not include serious violations of human rights?

The Council has a wide array of tools at its disposal to maintain peace and security, and to prevent and respond to gross human rights violations. The Code of Conduct and the French/Mexican initiative on the restraint of the use of veto are among these tools. Ultimately, the unity of the Security Council is the crucial factor to achieve the core objective of this Council: the protection of civilians.

f) Women’s and Children’s Rights

Although violations of women’s and children’s rights are never specifically addressed by the Italian Government as a threat to security, their countering must, in its opinion, rely on means whose link with maintenance of international peace is well established. Thus, in relation to sexual violence against women, the Government affirmed that “[t]he Security Council certainly has the potential to create deterrence by imposing targeted sanctions”.[76] Indeed, at a 2018 SC meeting, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, Amb. Stefano Stefanile, recalled that

during our mandate in our term in the Security Council we promoted […] the inclusion of sexual and gender-based violence as a stand-alone designation criterion for the renewal of sanctions in the Central African Republic and furthermore, during our monthly Presidency of the Council, we also promoted the unanimous adoption of two resolutions: Resolution 2382, which strengthened the role the UN Police Components in the protection of civilians, including in preventing and addressing sexual and gender based violence; and Resolution 2388, which further highlighted the connection between trafficking in persons, sexual violence and terrorism and other organized criminal activities, and requested to further integrate these issues into the work of the relevant Security Council Sanctions Committees.[77]

He then advanced a suggestion:

in his report on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, the Secretary- General recommends establishing sexual violence as an automatic and independent designation criterion; on the basis of the abovementioned precedent relating to the Central African Republic and of the following one related to South Sudan, we believe that the Security Council should systematically follow up on this recommendation in all relevant sanction regimes.[78]

The Government “encourage[d] the Security Council to keep the attention high on these issues and to ensure a follow-up to [the relevant] resolutions”, also adding that

At a national level, we must assist governments in strengthening accountability for these crimes. This is what we are doing with the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units in Vicenza, which provides high-quality training and specialized courses for peacekeepers on the “prevention and investigation of sexual and genderbased violence”.[79]

The same strategies must be deployed against breaches of the rights of children. For instance, the Italian Government “encourage[d] the Security Council to include in its sanctions regimes specific listing criteria for grave violations of children [sic] in armed conflict”.[80] In addition,

Italy strongly supports the inclusion of children-protection related provisions in the mandates of the UN peace operations. We did [it] this year when we renewed MINUSMA’s mandate. It is important that peacekeeping and political missions have the necessary means to monitor, report and respond to grave violations. To this end, we must ensure that Child Protection Advisers positions are duly staffed and budgeted. […] [W]e consider extremely important to offer peacekeeping personnel specific training on child protection. Targeted pre-deployment training of UN personnel on children in armed conflicts should be fully scaled up and become a standard practice for the UN, in coordination with regional organizations. In Italy modules on respect for human rights, international humanitarian law, and the protection of civilians are included in all the courses that CoESPU, the Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units, offers each year to peacekeepers.[81]

Attention was also paid by the Government to preventing child recruitment in the context of peacekeeping, as “the Vancouver principles should be fully implemented by peace operations”.[82]

g) Food Security and Access to Water

Humanitarian concerns have been raised by Italian representatives also from a standpoint other than that of individual human rights. A wider understanding of issues related to basic needs has been shown by them on several occasions, tackling both food security and access to water. As to the former, during a 2017 SC meeting on a series of national famines, Amb. Inigo Lambertini said the following:

in terms of methodology, we convincedly back an early engagement of the Council on these issues, through early warning mechanisms and early action, in terms of breaking the cycle of violence, ensuring full humanitarian access and immediate disbursing of pledged funds. […] [O]n a broader perspective, Italy believes that the growing commitment of the Security Council on humanitarian issues witnessed this year goes into the right direction, as these clearly fall within this body’s mandate for the wide-ranging implications on international peace and security. We must take an holistic approach when dealing with peace and security issues and we therefore encourage Member States to keep this issue high on the Council’s agenda also in the future.[83]

As to water security, the Italian Government noted that “access to safe water is also a condition for peace and stability, for we cannot fail to acknowledge that resource scarcity is in turn a driver of instability, migration and strife”.[84] As a logical consequence, “Italy recognize[d] the need for a more comprehensive and concerted international action with a clear role also of the Security Council to address water-related security aspects [as] prevention of conflicts passes also through water diplomacy”.[85]

h) Climate Change

In the Italian Government’s view, since 2007, when the SC held a ministerial level open debate on the relationship between energy, security and climate, it has become apparent that “there is an urgent need to take into account climate change as an agent of security threats, in line with the updated vision of security”.[86] A decade later, with the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2349, there is evidence of a “growing demand for early warning mechanisms addressing climate related security risks”.[87] Therefore,

[t]he United Nations System at large needs to become more consistent and effective in the assessment of new security risks generated by climate change. Failing to address these unconventional threats, means failing to protect people livelihood and global security.[88]

The same was restated more recently. Endorsing the Secretary-General’s opinion that “climate change is the defining issue of our time” and also “a direct existential threat” to mankind and our planet, Amb. Stefano Stefanile said that

the consequences of climate-related disasters in terms of humanitarian crisis, destabilization, resource-driven conflicts, forced displacement and migration flows, have an immediate, direct impact on the security of the entire planet. […] While being mindful of the contents and characteristics of its mandate, we believe that the Security Council too should also play its part and systematically incorporate the security dimension of climate-related impacts in its analysis and deliberations, including on country specific situations, in coordination with the wider UN System.[89]

The call for an updated vision of security and the reference to the traditional mandate of the SC seem to push towards different directions, as only the former would provide an autonomous basis for SC action. Thus, the scope of the Italian Government’s suggestions is unclear. It is certain, though, that environmental considerations should as a minimum be integrated into the traditional functions of the SC. Again, peacekeeping is a field of application of this approach. In February 2018, Italy and Bangladesh created a Group of Friends – which they co-chair – on the management of the environmental impact of field missions throughout their lifecycle, aimed at promoting the implementation of the Environmental Strategy launched by the UN Department of Field Support in the previous year.[90] Already in 2017, however, Italy had invited the SC to take in due consideration “the provisions for an enhanced vigilance to the environmental footprint of peacekeeping mission, reaffirmed in MONUSCO”.[91]

Again, it is not easy to tell whether the Italian Government understands the abovementioned phenomena as self-standing bases for triggering the competence of the SC under Chapter VII of the Charter. An answer in the affirmative might stem both from the explicit qualification of many of such phenomena as threats to international peace and security and from the Government’s insistence on the role the SC has in tackling them. A negative answer, on the other hand, is perhaps suggested by the references – which, however, are infrequent – to the fact that this role must be taken on by the SC within its mandate. Moreover, the idea, expressed by the Italian representatives, that all these threats (forced migration, climate change, conflicts, food insecurity, terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking) are intertwined[92] leads to a situation where it is almost impossible to disentangle them. Again, the ambiguity persists. As this would prevent the identification of a clear factual basis for the action of the SC, one could presume that the Italian Government, with its statements on the interconnection of current security risks, is not actually taking a legal stance on the scope of the mandate of the SC. Alternatively, one could take the Italian commitment to a “comprehensive and integrated approach”, a “cross-dimensional approach”[93] to international security seriously, and think that the Government’s holistic understanding of both the scope and means of action of the SC is meant to bring the extensive interpretation of that body’s powers even further.

[1] The Italian Yearbook of International Law has regularly followed the unfolding of such proposals. See, most recently, Pietro Gargiulo, Giuseppe Nesi (eds.), “Diplomatic and Parliamentary Practice”, IYIL 24 (2014): 506-509.

[2] See, e.g., the statements made by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi on 1 February 2018, 27
February 2018
, 27 March 2018, and 6-7 June 2018.

[3] See, e.g., the stances taken by Russia and China in Peter Ferdinand, “The Positions of Russia and China at the UN Security Council in the Light of Recent Crises”, Briefing Paper for the Directorate-General for External Policies of the European Union, 2013, available here.

[4] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 12 October 2017, avalable here.

[5] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 15 December 2017, available here.

[6] Also because it is the top Western troop-contributing country for this kind of operations. Moreover, some UN bodies somehow related to peacekeeping are hosted on Italian territory: the UN Logistic Base in Brindisi and the UN System Staff College, with its Turin campus. In 2005 the Italian Government established the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units in Vicenza, that has so far trained more than 10,000 units of police personnel, many of whom are or have been deployed in peacekeeping operations.

[7] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 23 May 2017, available here. See also, in the same vein, the statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 28 March 2018, available here.

[8] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 23 May 2017, available here. Also, e.g., in the statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 6 April 2017, available here.

[9] Statement by the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Vincenzo Amendola, of 2 November 2017, available here. As a consequence, it should be “envisage[ed] a responsible exit strategy from peacekeeping towards a strengthened development assistance”: statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 29 August 2017, available here.

[10] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 28 March 2018, available here.

[11] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 11 April 2017, available here.

[12] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 29 August 2017, available here.

[13] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 20 December 2017, available here.

[14] Statement of Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 7 November 2017, available here.

[15] Statement of Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 29 August 2017, available here. This is why Italy “support[s] an enhanced role of the Peace Building Support Office”: statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 28 March 2018, available here.

[16] Statement of Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 6 April 2017, available here.

[17] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 28 March 2018, available here.

[18] See, inter alia, the statements made by Amb. Inigo Lambertini on 5 October 2017, available here and, in identical terms, on 22 December 2017, available here.

[19] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 6 April 2017, available here.

[20] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 22 May 2018, available here.

[21] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 28 March 2018, available here. S

[22] Which Italy keeps distinct from peacekeeping: see statement of Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 15 June 2017, available here.

[23] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 29 August 2017, available here. On regular reviews, see also also the statement made by Id. on 23 May 2017, available here. The evolution of a mission should follow “[s]equenced benchmarks linked to political progress in the Country” that hosts it: statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 6 April 2017, available here. Accordingly, on 16 August 2017, Amb. Inigo Lambertini said it was time “to make an assessment of the UN presence in Kosovo with the aim of adjusting it to the present needs of the Country”: see here.

[24] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 6 February 2018, available here.

[25] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 30 August 2017 (UNIFIL), available here.

[26] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 30 August 2017 (Wrap up), available here.

[27] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 30 August 2017 (UNIFIL), available here.

[28] Statement by Amb. Mariangela Zappia of 29 August 2018, available here.

[29] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 6 April 2017, available here. See also the statement made by Id. on 28 March 2018, available here.

[30] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 6 April 2017, available here.

[31] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 19 July 2017, available here.

[32] Often quoted by Italy, it is also the object of a joint statement of the European Union: “Déclaration au nom de l’UE: Débat ouvert du Conseil de Sécurité – Paix et sécurité en Afrique: Renforcement des opérations de maintien de la paix en Afrique”, 20 November 2018, available here.

[33] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 19 July 2017, available here; see also statements made by Id. on 15 June 2017 and 22 June 2017, available here and here.

[34] Statement by Amb. Mariangela Zappia of 20 November 2018, available here; also in the statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 12 September 2017, available here; on financial aid, see also the statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 15 August 2017, available here. On the role of the European Union, see the statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 6 April 2017, available here.

[35] Statement by Amb. Mariangela Zappia of 6 December 2018, available here.

[36] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 8 November 2017, available here. On accountability as a prevention strategy, see also the statement made by Id. on 7 June 2017, available here.

[37] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 6 December 2017, available here.

[38] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 10 August 2017, available here.

[39] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 28 February 2017, available here. On the Mechanism, see also the statement by Id. of 24 October 2017, available here.

[40] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 5 April 2017, available here.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Statement by unidentified author of 17 May 2018, available here.

[43] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 5 April 2017, available here.

[44] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 8 May 2017, available here.

[45] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 8 June 2017, available here.

[46] Statement of Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 22 May 2018, available here.

[47] In the last one, for instance, it is striking how breaches of ‘relevant’ UNSC resolutions (which bind States, not individuals) are almost equated to international crimes. But the approach is similar to that expressed in the passage corresponding to footnote 42, where follow-up activities generically concern serious violations of fundamental rules of international law.

[48] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 28 November 2017, available here.

[49] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 12 January 2017, available here.

[50] Statement by the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Vincenzo Amendola, of 13 February 2017, available here.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Statement by Amb. Mariangela Zappia of 2 October 2018, available here.

[53] Statement by the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Vincenzo Amendola, of 24 March 2017, available here.

[54] See “ONU/Italia. Italia e Cipro lanciano Gruppo di Amici per la Tutela dei Beni Culturali”, Press release, 18 April 2018, available here.

[55] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 8 May 2017, available here.

[56] Statement by Amb. Mariangela Zappia of 10 April 2018, available here.

[57] Statement by Amb. Stefano Stefanile of 5 February 2019, available here.

[58] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 17 August 2017, available here.

[59] Statement by Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato of 20 October 2018, available here.

[60] Statement by Amb. Gianfranco Incarnato of 24 October 2018, available here.

[61] Ibid. See also the statement made by Amb. Inigo Lambertini on 11 May 2017, available here.

[62] Statement by the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Vincenzo Amendola, of 13 June 2017, available here.

[63] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 30 August 2017 (Wrap up), available here.

[64] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 2 August 2017, available here.

[65] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 30 August 2017 (UNIFIL), available here.

[66] Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr
Angelino Alfano, of 17 November 2017, available here.

[67] Statement by the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Vincenzo Amendola, of 21 November 2017, available here

[68] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 9 May 2017, available here.

[69] Statement by the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Vincenzo Amendola, of 21 November 2017, available here.

[70] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 14 November 2017, available here.

[71] Ibid. On the involvement of the SC, see also the statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 28 November 2017, available here.

[72] Statement by unidentified author of 1 November 2017, available here.

[73] Statement by the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Vincenzo Amendola, of 2 November 2017, available here.

[74] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 12 November 2017, available here.

[75] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 18 April 2017, available here.

[76] Statement by unidentified author of 16 April 2018, available here; see also the statement of Amb. Mariangela Zappia of 25 October 2018, available here.

[77] Statement of Amb. Stefano Stefanile of 22 October 2018, available here.

[78] Ibid. On 15 May 2017, Amb. Sebastian Cardi had referred, more precisely, to “sexual violence in the context of armed conflict or terrorism”, see here.

[79] Statement by unidentified author of 16 April 2018, available here; on peacekeeping, see also the statement of Amb. Mariangela Zappia of 8 October 2018, available here.

[80] Statement by unidentified author of 9 July 2018, available here.

[81] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 31 October 2017, available here; see also the statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 21 February 2018, available here.

[82] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 28 March 2018, available here.

[83] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 12 October 2017, available here.

[84] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 6 April 2017, available here.

[85] Statement by Amb. Stefano Stefanile of 26 October 2018, available here.

[86] Statement by Amb. Sebastiano Cardi of 15 December 2017, available here.

[87] Ibid.

[88] Ibid.

[89] Statement by Amb. Stefano Stefanile of 25 January 2019, available here.

[90] “Launch of the Group of Friends leading on environmental management in the field, co-chaired by Italy and Bangladesh”, Press release, 16 February 2018, available here.

[91] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 29 August 2017, available here.

[92] See the statements made by Amb. Inigo Lambertini on 16 October 2017, available here, by Amb.Sebastian Cardi on 19 July 2017, available here, and by Amb. Mariangela Zappia on 6 November 2018, available here.

[93] Statement by Amb. Inigo Lambertini of 22 February 2017, available here.

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