ROME, JULY 10 – It was a trap set in the 1990s, which threatened to relegate Italy and other medium-sized countries for a long time, perhaps forever, to a second or third rank in the international arena. The “quick fix”, as it was called at the United Nations headquarters in New York, would have brought Germany and Japan in the powerful “club” of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC), at the expense of the other key players of international diplomacy: an effort that would have affected the representativeness and functionality of the intergovernmental organization, tasked to promote international co-operation since the end of the second World War.
Italy reacted to the possible expansion of permanent seats in the UNSC against its interests and those of a vast number of other countries. Thanks to a persevering work and to a great, often “unconventional” teamwork led by then-ambassador to the UN, Francesco Paolo Fulci, the initiative launched by Berlin and Tokyo, was successfully blocked. Those events are recalled in a compelling book entitled “The New York Challenge. Reform of the United Nations Security Council”, written by Elio Menzione and published in Italy by the Robbettino publishing house.
Before serving as ambassador to Cuba, South Africa, Colombia and Berlin, Menzione has worked at the permanent Mission of Italy to the UN in New York between 1991 and 1996: the crucial years in the battle for the reform of the UN Security Council. The author’s analytical skills in international relations emerge from the over three hundred pages of the volume, as well as his deep knowledge of diplomatic history and his precious first-hand experience at the UN in New York, developed together with the other “Fulci boys” as Giulio Terzi and Sebastiano Cardi were jokingly nicknamed by the media. All of them later achieved career success: Terzi as Minister of Foreign Affairs after being Ambassador to the United States, Cardi as the current Permanent Representative to the United Nation.
The “challenge” launched to Italy took place in the last decades of the nineteenth century, a particular period of time in history of international relations, characterized by dramatic changes in the world: the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War created a new global scenario. Worldwide collaboration was strengthened, enhancing the role of the United Nations and its executive branch, the Security Council.
In this epoch of changes, Japan and the newly united Germany called for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, gaining support from the United States, France and Britain to enter into the restricted and “privileged group”. Italy and its permanent representatives to the United Nations in New York faced the challenge and firmly opposed the German-Japanese initiative, aiming at national interests and a partisan vision of the future of the UN.
Gathering countries with similar interests and views in a movement, nicknamed the “Coffee Club”, Italy has played a decisive role in preventing “quick” solutions targeted to establishing rules benefiting only a fortunate few nations. Under the leadership of Italy, the “Coffee Club” countered the bids for permanent seats proposed by G4 nations (Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan) and asked for a general consensus before reaching any decision on the form and size of the Security Council. These rules Italy has battled for, have been still working and rely on a wide range and unprecedent support from the Italian political class, press and public opinion.
(@Onuitalia, July 10 2017)