For the first time in more than twenty years, yesterday in Strasbourg Italy assumed the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in a year that has already been filled with commitments for our country: from our Presidency of the G20 to our partnership with the United Kingdom for COP26. Convinced that multilateralism is not an option but a necessity, we have been working tirelessly in all of those important forums to strengthen international cooperation and address the great global challenges of our time. Italy intends to interpret its six-month presidency in the same spirit.
Along with the other nine founding countries, many years ago Italy decided in 1949 to create the Council of Europe as an expression of a Europe of values: a Europe that is just as important as the economic Europe. The one would not exist without the other, and their symbolic expression are the twelve-star flag and the Ode to Joy, first adopted in Strasbourg and then in Brussels. Since then we have been honouring our commitment by providing the intellectual resources of men and women of great value, working with conviction to foster the progress and affirmation of the Organisation, and constantly facilitating dialogue between its members.
Today, with 47 member countries representing approximately 840 million citizens, the Council of Europe is a unique organisation in terms of its geography, structure, working methods, and mission: a mission that is focussed on defending human rights and on promoting democracy and the rule of law. So the Council is now an irreplaceable point of reference for the defence of multilateralism and the strengthening of international cooperation.
In assuming the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, our ambition is to contribute to further progress by focussing on a number of priorities that align with the issues that are traditionally at the heart of Italy’s international action for the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Our priority lines of action will be:
- Strengthen and relaunch the founding principles and values of the Council of Europe with initiatives in the fields of cultural heritage, social rights, sport, and the right to health;
- Promote female empowerment and women’s rights with a focus on combatting violence against women; and promote the rights of children and adolescents with youth policies, child protection, and education;
- Construct a people-friendly future by addressing the challenges that the new technologies pose for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, particularly the development of Artificial Intelligence.
By now, the Council of Europe is not only an expression of concrete multilateralism but is a part of our daily life. In line with Italy’s natural multilateralist vocation, we will be working with conviction to make our common home even stronger.