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.
During 2016, the Italian Government was often questioned before the Parliament about arms exports from Italy to countries where either a conflict was occurring or international norms were being violated. The statements by the different members of the Government highlighted a heterogeneous practice, contingent upon different variables, some of which related to the presence of international measures and others to political considerations of the Government itself.
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:
SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC, XVII LEGISLATURE, 372nd MEETING, 12 JANUARY 2015.
On 12 January 2015, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, reported before the Senate of the Republic on the position of Italy in the international fight against terrorism. Mr Gentiloni illustrated, inter alia, Italy’s efforts against ISIL/Daesh. He said:
TENTH ROUND OF 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, 12 DECEMBER 2013.
On 12 December 2013, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations made the following statement on behalf of the “Uniting for Consensus” (UfC) Group:
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:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVI LEGISLATURE, 450th MEETING, 16 MARCH 2011 – QUESTION TIME.
On 16 March 2011, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Franco Frattini, replied to a Parliamentary question concerning the situation in Libya. Having described Italy’s key political and humanitarian role in the crisis, the Minister explained the conditions determining the consent to a military action in Libya. He stated: