Torino 26/10/2006

Speech by the President of the Italian Republic on the occasion of his visit to the ITC-ILO/UN Campus in Turin



Turin, 26 October 2006

Mr Executive Director of the International Labour Organization
Mr Director of the United Nations System Staff College,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I was glad to accept your invitation to take part in the United Nations Days celebrations. This year they are dedicated to the abolition of forced labour, of exploitation in all its forms and of informal labour, and are taking place in this magnificent international campus, which represents the only facility of its kind in the United Nations system. It is one of the many gems to be found in the city of Turin which, with its academic institutions, research centres and foundations is increasingly becoming a point of reference in the sphere of training and knowledge.

When the Training Centre of the International Labour Organization was inaugurated in 1965 its purpose was immediately clear: to develop the human resources required to promote the social progress of Member States. The objective was coherent with the ILO's mission. The oldest of the United Nations' specialized agencies, it focused from the beginning on the noblest of all human activities - labour. Over the years the centre had tirelessly pursued the promotion of labour and social justice. Its activities have grown over time, adapting to changes on the international scene and to the needs of an increasingly interdependent world. Attention turned to meeting the needs of the large part of the world's population to whom prosperity remains a distant mirage. Issues such as poverty and social exclusion, migration, human trafficking and the conservation and rational use of natural resources became central to the themes addressed by the ITC-ILO's courses. The inter-disciplinary approach was further strengthened by the move to Turin of the United Nations' Inter-Regional Research Institute on Crime and Justice (UNICRI) in 2000 and by the establishment, as part of the campus, of the United Nations System's Staff College. 
Those developments underline the quantitative and qualitative expansion of the campus's activities, featuring not only a constant increase in the number of people benefiting from the courses but also a proliferation of agreements with other international organizations - of which I would, for reasons of brevity, mention only the World Bank and the European Commission. At the same time the campus was forging strong links with local academic institutions such as the University of Turin, the Turin Polytechnic and the European Training Foundation. Such initiatives reflect goals which Italy strongly supports. For training is a vital activity which places added value on the most precious of all resources - human individuals and their infinite capacities. For this reason Italy firmly believes in the mission of the Turin Campus, which has made training its very raison d'être. We are among its principal donors and hope that it will become the focal point for all the United Nations' training programmes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a fortunate coincidence that this visit should take place within days of Italy's election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in the 2007-2008 biennium. The election was the culmination of years of unremitting diplomatic efforts carried out under successive governments. We are proud to note that it comes in recognition of the role which Italy has played in the United Nations since it became a member in 1955. Italian policy has always been based on the conviction that the United Nations, with its system of financial institutions, specialized agencies and connected regional organizations represents an essential instrument in the construction of an international society founded on the rule of law and mutual solidarity.

The growing number of crisis areas, persisting imbalance in the level of development to be found in the world and the threats posed by trans-national environmental emergencies reinforce our conviction: in times of great turbulence and of enduring uncertainty the international community inevitably looks to the United Nations for solutions agreeable to all. Those who argue that the multilateral system is in decline should consider the following: the United Nations is currently leading 18 peacekeeping operations involving 93,000 men and women. As the UNIFIL force is brought up to full strength in Lebanon over the next few months and with the possible deployment of an operation in Darfur their total could soon approach 140,000. At the same time the Organization is working to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people who suffer from poverty in the world and who depend for survival on programmes run by its specialized agencies. With its Millennium Declaration, the United Nations effectively committed itself to correcting the perverse effects of globalization and to harnessing its potential in an unprecedented attempt to eradicate the age-old scourges of hunger, poverty and disease. Italy has risen to the challenge. It is the sixth-largest contributor to the United Nations' ordinary budget; it participates in UN peacekeeping operations with some 10,000 men and women, including 3,000 under the United Nations flag; it channels a large part of its aid and development resources through UN agencies and programmes.

I should, however, like to draw your attention to a less-publicized aspect, which is Italy's growing role as a strategic headquarters for the United Nations, which has set up specialized operational bases for its various areas of activities on Italian territory. Brindisi hosts the United Nations' Logistics Base, which provides support for all UN peacekeeping operations in the various regions of the world. The base was recently enlarged and could at some point in the future house the United Nations' new Standing Police Capacity. Brindisi is also home to the World Food Programme's main depot, which is used to distribute emergency humanitarian aid to crisis areas. Rome hosts the United Nations' food and agriculture "hub" which consists of three organizations, FAO, the World Food Programme and IFAD, all fighting at the forefront of the battle to bring food security and sustainable development to the poorest regions of the world. In Trieste, which has become a major centre for science and technology, the United Nations is present with a number of prominent research centres among which I should like to make special mention of: the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, created under the auspices of UNESCO, and the International Centre for Genetics Engineering and Biotechnologies, run by UNIDO. The principal objectives of those institutes are to transfer technology to, and train scientists from, developing countries.

Thus, with its International Campus - and with its other training centres such as the UNESCO centre - Turin is not an isolated case. It is but one link in a network covering the whole of Italy, making our country a central part of the United Nations' activities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a member of the Security Council for the sixth time, Italy is preparing to make its presence - and the voice of Europe - increasingly felt in the United Nations. Its purpose is to contribute to confirming the validity of the multilateral approach and to promote the role of the United Nations as the guarantor of international law and order. In that perspective Italy will work for the completion of the process of reform and renewal launched at the New York Summit with the aim of making the Organization as representative and effective as it needs to be to meet successfully the increasingly complex challenges of a globalized world. To that end, Italy intends to collaborate closely with the new Secretary-General, to whom I express my best wishes for the difficult and demanding task that awaits him. I should also like to thank Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the dedication and energy he showed in leading the Organization for a decade.

Finally, we very much hope that the United Nations will further consolidate its presence in our country. On that note, I should like to express my warmest wishes for the success of your work and of your training. I hope that what you have learned in Turin will be of benefit to you both professionally and in human terms and that it will prompt you to return someday to Italy. You will always be welcome.