Category Archives: Security Council

Italy’s stance on the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

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. 

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Italy’s Reaction to the Use of Chemical Weapons at Khan Shaykhun and to the US Attack on a Syrian Airfield

On 4 April 2017, it was reported that the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun – controlled at the time by the Tahrir Al-Sham Alliance – had been the object of an airstrike by the air force of the Government of President Bashar Al Assad.[1] As a result of the airstrike, chemical agents poisoned large numbers of civilians. 

In a report released on 30 June 2017, the Fact-Finding Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) estimated the number of deaths “as approximately 100 people” and determined that “Sarin or a Sarin-like substance” had been used as a weapon in Khan Shaykhun.[2] It took until 27 October 2017 for the OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism to take position on the responsibility for the attack and affirm that the Leading Panel of the mechanism itself was “confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of Sarin at Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017”.[3]

In the aftermath of the attack, however, several countries condemned the action and the United States (US), the United Kingdom and France openly called into question the responsibility of the Syrian Government.[4] The US President, Mr. Donald Trump, condemned the attack as “intolerable” and openly blamed the inaction of his predecessor Barack Obama, who, after establishing “a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons did nothing”.[5] On its part, the Syrian government denied any involvement in the use of chemical weapons.[6] The Government of the Russian Federation offered alternative explanations of the events, mentioning the fact that the Syrian Air Force could have “bombed an underground factory producing chemical warfare agents” or alluding to a possible “provocation by the terrorists”.[7] Within the United Nations (UN) Security Council, a draft resolution condemning the attack – tabled by France, the United Kingdom and the US – was vetoed by the Russian Federation, with the abstention of China, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan.[8] 

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Italy’s Involvement in Post-Conflict Lybia through the Lybian Coast Guard Training Mission

Post-conflict Libya has been riven by internal conflict, institutional, political and social instability as well as a grave humanitarian crisis. The achievement of stability in Libya has been of concern to the international community, in particular in light of the serious consequences of internal conflict and fragmentation on, inter alia, the fight against terrorism and the Islamic State, as well as against human trafficking and migrant smuggling across the Mediterranean Sea[1].

Historically a prominent international actor in the country, Italy has strongly supported the Government of National Accord, formed under the terms of the Libyan Political Agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco, on 17 December 2015[2], and endorsed by the United Nations (UN) Security Council as the sole legitimate executive authority in Libya[3]. On 8 May 2017, during a briefing at the UN Security Council on the situation in Libya (7934th Meeting)[4], the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, declared:

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The Government’s views on the imposition of an embargo on countries allegedly involved in arms trafficking with ISIL/Daesh and on common actions to counter terrorism

In the last quarter of 2015 the Government reported twice before the Chamber of Deputies on its arms sales policy to certain Middle East countries allegedly involved in illicit arms trafficking with ISIL/Daesh. The Government also explained which measures and actions Italy has undertaken in the fight against ISIL and foreign terrorist fighters. The most salient points from the two speeches follow:

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A Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, on the Recent Developments of the Situation in the Gaza Strip

CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 274th MEETING, 29 JULY 2014.

On 29 July 2014, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, delivered a speech before the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament on the conflict between Hamas and Israel. After expressing sorrow, on behalf of the Italian Government and people, for the casualties suffered on both sides, she highlighted the complexity of the conflict. Thus, to avoid any oversimplification, she briefly illustrated the political context of the whole region, showing how much the situations of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon and Jordan are interrelated. Then, referring to the end of the “Skyes-Picot order”, she called all the Middle-Eastern actors to assume direct and shared responsibility in the regional politics, together with Italy and Europe. Pointing out that the conflict cannot be examined through biased eyes, and that the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians – respectively, to live in peace and security and to have a sovereign State – are legitimate, she added:

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The Position of the Italian Government on a Motion in Favour of the Sahrawi People

SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC, XVII LEGISLATURE, 223rd AND 224th MEETINGS, 3 APRIL 2014.

In the framework of a discussion about some motions that promoted initiatives in favour of the Sahrawi people, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Pistelli, intervened to clarify the Italian position. The Undersecretary renewed the country’s support to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (UN MINURSO) and called for a continued bilateral and reinforced multilateral – and EU led – cooperation to solve the conflict.

He stated:

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A Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Emma Bonino, on the international operation for Syria’s chemical disarmament

CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES AND SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC, 3rd AND 4th JOINT COMMISSIONS, MEETING OF 16 JANUARY 2014

On 16 January 2014, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Emma Bonino, accompanied by the Italian Minister of Infrastructures and Transport, Maurizio Lupi, and the Director-General of OPAC, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, reported before the III and IV Commissions of the Chamber of Deputies and the Third and Fourth Commissions of the Senate of the Republic on the steps undertaken by Italy in the context of the international operation for the disarmament of Syria and the destruction of its chemical arsenal. The Minister then expressed Italy’s will to create a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East.

After Mr Lupi recalled OPAC decision of 27 September 2013 on destruction of Syrian chemical weapons and UN Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013) and explained the reasons which led the Italian Government to choose the Gioia Tauro harbour for the transshipment of chemical material from Syria, Ms Bonino stated:

Both the Security Council resolutions and the decision of the OPAC Executive Council have already been recalled. I believe that the offer of an Italian harbour for a mere operation of transshipment integrates into the policy followed by the Italian government since the beginning, namely that of a political settlement of the Syrian conflict, and not into other initiatives also envisaged.

I also believe, on the basis of ongoing consultations, that this opens a wider perspective into the common agreement reached by all States parties to the Non-proliferation Treaty to create a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East.

As you know, this possibility, which dates back a long way, is now materialising with greater awareness. Syrian accession to the Convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons represents a significant step also in this direction.

Let me add that in this context and for the purpose of this initiative, namely the one of establishing a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East, the Finnish facilitator, Mr Laajava, will be in Italy on Monday for consultations, in order for us to get started on the preparation of a conference in this respect.

She concluded:

Italy thus takes part in this international effort and in this endeavour to destroy chemical weapons, that we consider the starting point to get to a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

The Italian version of the statement can be downloaded here or found at: http://documenti.camera.it/leg17/resoconti/commissioni/stenografici/pdf/0304c0304/indag/c0304_disarmo/2014/01/16/leg.17.stencomm.data20140116.U1.com0304c0304.indag.c0304_disarmo.0001.pdf.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ View on North Korean Nuclear Threat and International Cooperation on Non-Proliferation

CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 44th MEETING, 2 JULY 2013.

On 2 July 2013 the deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Lapo Pistelli answered a parliamentary question relating to North Korean aggressive rhetoric and provocations that took place between December 2012 and April 2013. He highlighted the centrality of Security Council resolution 2094 (2013) and the fundamental importance of operating within the frameworks of the NATO and G8 and in cooperation with the European partners when dealing with such issues of international concern as Pyongyang’s nuclear threats and systematic violations of human rights. 

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Statement by Amb. Ragaglini on the Position of the Uniting for Consensus Group on the Tenth Round of Negotiations on Security Council Reform

PLENARY MEETING OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATIONS ON THE QUESTION OF EQUITABLE REPRESENTATION ON AND INCREASE IN THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL AND OTHER MATTERS RELATED TO THE COUNCIL, 27 JUNE 2013.

On 27 June 2013, Amb. Cesar Maria Ragaglini, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, took position, also on behalf of the United for Consensus Group, on the proposals on the reform of the Security Council. He stated:

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