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Di Stefano in Geneva for UPR session: “In world of trouble, defense of human rights must stand firm”

GENEVA, NOVEMBER 4TH- At the United Nations of Geneva opens the 34th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Session. The UPR is an opportunity for all member states to provide an update regarding their implementation of international human rights obligations, and receive recommendations from other Member States. Italy, represented by Manilo Di Stefano, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, addressed today the Assembly on its latest efforts to strengthen human rights in the Country.

In light of today’s “world of trouble” -as defined by the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres- and the 2030 Agenda, “the maintenance of peace and security, sustainable economic and social development and the promotion and protection of human rights… must and do stand firm,” affirmed Di Stefano. Human rights are of primary importance because “the human being is at the core of the ‘inclusive humanity’… something that we know we all strive for,” continued the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. 

Di Stefano began with the issue of gender equality, presenting the legislative and judicial progress made by Italy. He began with the appointment of a Minister for Equal Opportunities and the Family, which is currently developing a strategic framework for gender equality, aimed at empowering women both socially and economically and enhancing the integration of a gendered-perspective at all policy levels. Di Stefano also spoke of the Red Code judicial pathway, approved by Parliament in July 2019, which gives victims of domestic or gender-based violence the right of a court hearing within three days of the registration of the crime. This new law includes crimes such as forced marriage and revenge-porn. Italy furthermore reaffirmed its commitment to the enactment of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

In regards to the efforts for fighting poverty, Di Stefano highlighted the Universal Basic Income (Reddito di Cittadinanza) established in Italy on April 2019. “As of 4 September 2019, the National Institute of Social Security received about 1 million and five hundred thousand applications.. Out of them 1 million were accepted, and they refer to over two million and two hundred thousand people,” explained Di Stefano. 

Italy’s Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs also spoke of racism, mentioning the National Office against Racial Discrimination -dealing with online and offline hate speech- established in 2015, and the extraordinary Commission -set up by the Italian Senate in 2019- to fight against the phenomena of intolerance, racism, anti-semitism and incitement to hatred and violence.

As for migrations, no country can tackle this challenge alone. This is a phenomenon, which cannot be considered of a transitional or temporary nature. Indeed, it requires comprehensive measures, both in the short run and in the medium-long term,” said Di Stefano. “To facilitating the arrival of particularly vulnerable refugees, Italy is committed through three different channels: humanitarian corridors; resettlement; and humanitarian evacuations…Moreover, Italian Authorities promote a plethora of projects and interventions in the field of asylum and regular migration of which integration is a key component”. 

Anti-corruption was also of particular concern to Di Stefano, who spoke of the 2017 provision for the protection of whistle-blowers and the ‘Bribe Destroyer Law’ of 2019 (‘Legge Spazzacorrotti’) envisioned to fight public sector corruption and increase private sector transparency. 

In order to tackle overcrowding, the Ministry of Justice-Department of Penitentiary Administration started widening the penitentiary real estate… Five thousand new places shall be built in the next five years,” explained the Under-Secretary in regards to prison overcrowding and the rights of inmates. “In order to provide prisoners with life conditions as close as possible to life at liberty, and in order to offer them a more effective rehabilitation, the Penitentiary Administration has outlined a new modality of managing detention wings and new criteria to assign inmates. Prison security is then more and more oriented to a dynamic security system, based on the knowledge of inmates and on dialogue with them”. 

Di Stefano concluded with the issue of media freedom. He spoke of the ‘Coordination Center for monitoring, analysis and permanent exchange of information on the phenomenon of intimidating acts against journalists’, established in December 2017, which “promptly intervenes with protection measures, in the event of intimidation and threats against journalists”. (SB@OnuItalia)


Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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