Within the United Nations, human rights and fundamental freedoms are addressed within the Commission for Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs (Third Commission) of the General Assembly in New York and the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Third Commission examines about 70 draft resolutions on human rights each year. Once the draft resolutions are negotiated and approved, they are submitted for final adoption by the General Assembly. Italy actively participates in the negotiations of the Third Commission and has a leading role in numerous campaigns (including the one in favor of the universal moratorium on the use of the death penalty and the campaign against female genital mutilation).
The Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly which was established in 2006 with the task of promoting universal respect for and the protection of human rights, of intervening only in case of the violation thereof, and of favouring the coordination of the bodies of the United Nations system operating in the area of human rights. The UNHRC has 47 Member States elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term, with the seats assigned according to the principle of fair geographical distribution. The Council convenes in an Ordinary Session three times a year (in March, June and September) and in a Special Session at the request of 1/3 of its members.
Italy was a Member State of the UNHRC for two three-year terms: from 2007 to 2010 and from 2011 to 2014. On 12 October 2018, it was re-elected for a third three-year term from 2019 to 2021, with the highest number of votes from the WEOG (Western European and Others Group) and, more in general, it was also positioned among the front runners of those elected by other regional groups. During its term, Italy will place special attention on several priority issues, including: combating all forms of discrimination, upholding the rights of women and children, the universal moratorium on the death penalty, the freedom of religion or creed and the protection of religious minorities, the protection of cultural and religious heritage and of the defenders of human rights.
Humanitarian Corridors: A safe and legal alternative
Established through the cooperation between institutions, Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and its Ministry of the Interior, and civil society organisations, the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and ‘Tavola Valdese’ of the Waldesian Evangelical Church, humanitarian corridors are a programme facilitating the transfer of migrants in particularly vulnerable situations. These include single women with children, victims of human trafficking, elderly people and disabled or sick people.
The programme has facilitated the entry of more than 1,000 people from Lebanon (mainly Syrian refugees) and Ethiopia (refugees from Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan) since February 2015.
The renewal of the cooperation protocol at the end of 2017 will allow the safe and regular entry of another 1,000 people.
A Way to Also Ensure Our Security
The list of prospective beneficiaries of the humanitarian corridors is screened by the Ministry of the Interior once the cases most in need of protection are identified and reported by the private organisations involved. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation subsequently carries out the control procedures necessary to issue the relevant visas.
Reception and Integration
The Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and Tavola Valdese are in charge of receiving the beneficiaries once they arrive in Italy. They provide them with accommodation and economic aid over the period of time needed to complete their application procedure for international protection . The funds for the humanitarian corridors come from the 0.8% devolved to the Tavola Valdese by taxpayers in their income declaration and from private donations. The reception and integration system, which includes volunteer organisations based in almost all the Italian regions, is the backbone of the project.
A Repeatable Model
Humanitarian corridors constitute a privately sponsored pilot project for the reception and integration of vulnerable migrants and refugees. The experience up to now has shown that that it is possible to guarantee regular entries through the legislative instruments already available to the EU member states, thus avoiding perilous journeys of hope by particularly vulnerable persons in dire need of international protection. The project can be replicated in other countries together with civil society organisations and constitutes a model of solidarity that is a source of pride for Italy. In this regard, Pope Francis said: “I look upon the initiative of humanitarian corridors for refugees with admiration (…). It is the drop that will change the sea.”