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 27 October 2017, the Presidente della Repubblica Italiana (President of the Italian Republic, hereinafter President), Mr. Sergio Mattarella, refused to promulgate the law drafted and approved by the Parliament titled “Misure per contrastare il finanziamento delle imprese produttrici di mine antipersona, di munizioni e sub munizioni a grappolo” (Measures to combat the financing of firms manufacturing antipersonnel landmines, cluster munitions and submunitions, hereinafter Law no. 57). In the Italian constitutional system, in order for a law to enter into force the President has to promulgate it, according to Article 73 of the Constitution. To this end, Article 74 confers the President the power to require that the law undergoes a new debate in the two Houses of the Parliament, expressing the reasons for such a request. As explained in the opinion sent to the Senato della Repubblica (Senate of the Republic) and the Camera dei Deputati (Chamber of Deputies), the President identified two problematic features of the law, which are here illustrated.
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.
UN MEETING “MOVING AWAY FROM THE DEATH PENALTY: NATIONAL LEADERSHIP”, NEW YORK, 25 SEPTEMBER 2014.
On 25 September 2014, at a High-level event of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights together with Italy and other three States, the Italian Prime Minister, Mr Matteo Renzi, delivered a speech on the death penalty and on the need to support a moratorium to stop it and eventually to abolish it. After mentioning Italy’s leading role in the abolitionist campaign (with the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold II, having renounced to capital punishment already in 1786), he said that Italians
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 149th MEETING, 10 JANUARY 2014.
On 10 January 2014, the Undersecretary of State for Defence, Mr. Gioacchino Alfano, reported before the Chamber of Deputies on the sinking of a fishing vessel that took place on 11 October 2013, 113 km away from Lampedusa and 218 from Malta. The sinking caused the death of hundreds of Syrian refugees, including many children. A member of the Parliament called into question the proper management of the rescue operations, namely as to the lack of coordination between the Italian and Maltese authorities, that resulted in a late intervention. He also contested the effectiveness of the rules provided for by the Hamburg Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) in so far as they allow a SAR area to be put under the jurisdiction of an authority which is not necessarily the best placed to intervene, as in the case at issue, where the competent authority was the Maltese one. In response to the parliamentary question, Mr. Alfano said:
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SIXTH COMMITTEE (LXVIII Session), DEBATE ON THE REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL LAW COMMISSION ON THE WORK OF ITS SIXTY-FIFTH SESSION (UN Doc. A/68/10), 4 NOVEMBER 2013.
On 4 November 2013, during the debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the Report of the International Law Commission, the Italian delegate, Mr Mauro Politi, submitted the comments of his delegation on the work conducted by the ILC on the “Obligation to Extradite or Prosecute (aut dedere aut judicare)”. He stated:
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SIXTH COMMITTEE (LXVIII Session, XIV Meeting), THE SCOPE AND APPLICATION OF UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION, 18 October 2013.
On 18 October 2013, during the debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the Scope and Application of Universal Jurisdiction, the Legal Adviser of the Permanent Mission of Italy, Mr Salvatore Zappalà, submitted the comments of his delegation supporting a more thorough analysis of the topic by the Committee, and also the possible involvement of the International Law Commission. After expressing satisfaction for the unanimous recognition of the principle of universal jurisdiction as a fundamental tool in ensuring that perpetrators of heinous crimes are brought to justice, he stated that:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 36th MEETING, 19 JUNE 2013.
On 19 June 2013, the Minister for Home Affairs Angelino Alfano reported at the Chamber of Deputies on recent landings of migrants on Lampedusa and other Italian coastal areas. He pointed out that the issue of managing migratory flows to Italy cannot be considered a merely national issue and asked for the cooperation of the European Union and bodies of the United Nations. He said:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 17th MEETING, 16 MAY 2013 – QUESTION TIME.
On 16 May 2013, the Undersecretary of State for Justice, Mr. Cosimo Maria Ferri, outlined before the Chamber of Deputies the reasons leading to the Decreto Ministeriale of 24 April 2013, which granted the extradition of a Spanish terrorist suspect to Spain. In such country, special detention conditions, which have been the object of ECHR judgments and criticisms by human rights NGOs, apply for terrorist suspects. The extradition had been previously approved by both the Court of Appeal of Rome and the Supreme Court of Cassation. In his statement, Mr. Ferri referred to the decision of the Court of Cassation as follows:
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SIXTH COMMITTEE (LXVII Session), DEBATE ON THE REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL LAW COMMISSION ON THE WORK OF ITS SIXTY-FOURTH SESSION ON THE OBLIGATION TO EXTRADITE OR PROSECUTE (AUT DEDERE AUT JUDICARE).
On 6 November 2012, during the debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the Report of the International Law Commission, the Legal Adviser to the Permanent Mission of Italy, Mr Salvatore Zappalà, submitted the comments of his delegation on the work conducted by the ILC on the “Obligation to Extradite or Prosecute (Aut Dedere Aut Judicare)”. After encouraging the Commission to give further energy to its work in the area, he recalled that: