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. 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. 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. 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.
On 6 December 2017, the United States (US) President, Mr. Donald Trump, put into effect his presidential campaign promise to effectively recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, thereby indicating a future move there for the US embassy from Tel Aviv. Such a decision has been interpreted by many as marking a turning point in the US approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Indeed, even though the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act adopted by the US Senate and House of Representatives committed the Federal Government to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, since its enactment every US President has regularly availed himself of the possibility to invoke a six-month waiver of the application of the law. President Trump himself signed such a waiver twice, before (June 2017) as well as after (December 2017) his own declaration. Nonetheless, his announcement sparked controversy and many countries voiced their dissent. Italy is among those States and its stance will be discussed below. However, in order better to understand the dissent it expressed along with a number of other countries, it is useful to provide a factual and legal context, starting with Mr. Trump’s actual words.
In his speech, Mr. Trump motivated his decision as follows:
Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. […] But today we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.
At the beginning of 2016, the Italian national Giulio Regeni was murdered in Cairo in unclear circumstances. This soon became a major issue in the foreign policy of Italy and a cause of tension in its relations with Egypt. The event is here illustrated through the accounts given by the members of the Italian Government themselves, on the occasion of official reports to the Parliament. At the same time, some important political and legal aspects are also briefly addressed.
NEW YORK, 71st GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEETING ON THE REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE, 27 OCTOBER 2016
On 27 October 2016, at the 71st General Assembly Meeting on the Report of the International Court of Justice, Minister Plenipotentiary Andrea Tiriticco, Director for International Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reaffirmed Italy’s abidance by the international rule prohibiting the use of force in inter-State relations. In his words:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 383th MEETING, 27 FEBRUARY 2015.
On 27 February 2015, the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament was called upon to vote seven motions concerning initiatives for the recognition of the Palestinian State. Five of them were rejected (Motions nos. 1-00675, 1-00625, 1-00699, 1-00738 and 1-00747). Two were approved, but they do not seem to be fully consistent with each other. A full translation of the text of both motions is given hereunder.
SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC, 3rd PERMANENT COMMISSION (FOREIGN AFFAIRS – EMIGRATION), XVII LEGISLATURE, 67th MEETING, 17 FEBRUARY 2015.
On 18 January 2015, two Italian trawlers (the Jonathan of Siracusa and the Albachiara of Cagliari) were arrested by the Egyptian coast guard about 36 nautical miles far from the coast of Egypt. The timely intervention of the Italian Government brought to the release of both the two vessels and their crews (except the catch) before a full day had passed since the incident. One month later, Mr Lapo Pistelli, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, intervened in the Senate and, commenting upon these facts, made a statement that might be read as implicitly accepting the third-party effects of a bilateral treaty aimed at delimiting two Exclusive Economic Zones in a highly contested area. In the words of the Deputy Minister:
SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC, 4th PERMANENT COMMISSION (DEFENCE), XVII LEGISLATURE, 112th MEETING, 21 JANUARY 2015.
On 21 January 2015, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Angelino Alfano, intervened in the Italian Senate in order to answer a parliamentary question concerning, inter alia, the actual purposes of the Triton mission undertaken on the European maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea. Mr Alfano recalled that:
On 16 January 2015, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, appeared before the Chamber of Deputies in order to report about the liberation of Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli, two Italian aid workers kidnapped in Syria in July 2014. Addressing the allegation that Italy had paid a ransom to secure the liberation of its nationals, the Minister denied that this is the Italian practice in matters of kidnapping and made reference to an alleged international rule prohibiting the payment of ransoms. In the words of Mr Gentiloni:
On 12 December 2014, the Italian Minister of Defence, Ms Roberta Pinotti, was interviewed by Mr Paolo Valentino, a journalist with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. Before replying to – and denying – a rumour according to which she could become the next President of the Republic of Italy, she answered a number of questions concerning her Country’s foreign policy. She expressed Italy’s willingness to be protagonist in the Libyan crisis and to “provide its soldiers to a United Nations peacekeeping force”, but only upon certain conditions. In this respect, according to the Minister: