EU Watch

Italy elected UN Human Rights Council: Time to put its Money where its Mouth is

Italy was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council with 180 votes. For the countries of the Western European group three places were allocated and there were three candidates, meaning there are no defeated countries in the European Union area.

by Roberta Martucci Schiavi

The priorities of the Italian Government

Italy has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council together with Austria, Denmark, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia, Togo, India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji, Philippines, Argentina, Uruguay and Bahamas. CILD's and Antigone's President Patrizio Gonnella expressed his views on this news in this article from his blog on civil liberties for L'Espresso.

Among the priorities indicated by the Italian Government to obtain consensus were: the fight against all forms of discrimination, the rights of women and children, the universal moratorium on the death penalty, freedom of religion, the fight against trafficking in human beings, the rights of disabled people, the protection of cultural and religious heritage and the protection of human rights defenders. Prime Minister Conte, commenting on the good news, declared that the defence of human rights is in the DNA of Italy. The task of associations and civil society will be to monitor the work of Italian institutions inside and outside the Country.

The Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council is a classically inter-governmental body of the United Nations, made up of 47 states that periodically judge the state of human rights in all countries of the world. In 2019 it will be Italy's turn to be judged, as well as being a judge itself. Obviously, membership of the Human Rights Council is not a reward for those States that behave ethically, otherwise it would be difficult to explain the election to the body of countries such as the Philippines, whose systematic violations of human rights were certified by Amnesty International in its last periodic report. In the Council, people are elected on a rotating basis.

No double standards

Therefore, the Government will have to avoid double standards. In order to preach well and judge others, it will also have to act well, otherwise it will lose credibility. Coherence in politics is a virtue. As the fight against all forms of discrimination was listed among the Italian priorities in Geneva, Italy will need to formally censor what is happening in the municipality of Lodi or remove from the public agenda welfare measures aimed only at Italians, or the removal of international protection. Claiming support to freedom of religion also requires an awareness that there is full freedom to build places of worship without discrimination for unwelcome religions. Dealing with those who protect human rights means not criminalising solidarity and valuing the work of NGOs.

The UN: vanguard for democracy and human rights

Italy's election to the Council should be welcomed, as should the statements of the Prime Minister and the priorities selected. On the other hand, political duplicity is not good, and this made Italy look like a benign angel in Geneva. The United Nations is a post-war achievement and is a vanguard for democracy and human rights. The UN must always be respected, even when it criticises the policies of Italy. This is a guarantee for all.