Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni criticized the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday for hypocrisy on the issue of mass migration, charging open-borders advocates with spreading “chaos,” making human traffickers rich, and bringing the evil of slavery back into the world.
Meloni defended the concept of nationhood and spoke of the natural yearning for national identity, while also stressing the importance of the U.N. as a vehicle for finding “shared solutions that can guarantee peace and prosperity.”
Meloni said nations exist because they “reflect humankind’s innate need to feel a sense of belonging to a community, to a certain people, and to be able to share with others the same historical memory, the same laws, the same customs and traditions – in a word, one’s identity.”
Meloni said the U.N. represented the triumph of reason and debate over violence but threw in a little criticism for the institution talking endlessly about principles it does not always put into practice: “We live in complex times, of continuous emergencies and change, and we cannot afford the luxury of words of circumstance, of lofty principles that have never been realized, of easy choices in place of the right ones.”
“If these two premises – the nation and reason – are still the foundation of our action, then we must reject the utopian and self-serving narrative of those who say that a world without nations, without borders, and without identity would be a world without war and conflict,” she said.
Italy is currently experiencing the practical consequences of such rhetoric, as a tidal wave of migrants has overwhelmed the island of Lampedusa.
Meloni said it was equally important to “thwart the return to the use of force as a tool to resolve international conflict,” exemplified by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which she described as a throwback to “a world of dominion” and “neo-imperial wars which we thought we had done away with in the past century.”
Italy’s choice to support Ukraine against Russia was clear, as Meloni said the upper hand must not be given to “those who bombard civilian infrastructure, hoping to bring a people to its knees with cold and darkness – to those who weaponize energy and blackmail developing nations, blocking exports of grain, the raw material needed to feed millions of people.”
“It’s a war waged, not only against Ukraine, but against the poorest nations,” she said, warning that regions like Africa become “easier prey for terrorism and fundamentalism” in times of food insecurity.
“This is a choice, to create chaos and spread it – and in this chaos, that produces tens of millions of people potentially in search of better living conditions, are infiltrated criminal networks that profit from desperation to collect easy billions,” she said, harkening back to Italy’s migrant crisis.
“They are the traffickers of human beings that organize the trade of illegal mass immigration,” she said. “They deceive those who rely on them to migrate to find a better life, having them pay thousands of dollars for trips to Europe they sell with brochures, as if they were regular travel agencies.”
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“But those brochures don’t tell you that those trips all too often can lead to death, to a grave at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea,” she continued. “Because they don’t care whether the boat used is unfit for that type of travel or not. The only important thing for them is the profit margin. These are the people who, owing to a certain hypocritical approach to the issue of immigration, have become rich beyond measure.”
Meloni chided the United Nations for failing to take a firm stance against organized crime, because open-borders ideology causes so many to turn a “blind eye” to human traffickers and migrant smugglers, even though their activities are an assault on the basic “faith in the dignity and worth of the human person” the U.N. claims to champion.
“Can we really pretend to see that no other criminal activity in the world today is more lucrative than the trafficking of migrants, when it is U.N. reports themselves that have shown how this business has reached, by volume of money, the same level as drug trafficking – and has largely surpassed that of arms trafficking?” she asked.
Meloni further reminded the U.N. that international bodies played a critical role in defeating slavery in times past.
“Can it today tolerate its comeback through other forms, let the commercialization of human life continue?” she asked, noting there are “women brought to Europe and forced into prostitution to repay the enormous debt they incur with their traffickers.”
Indulging organized crime and human traffickers had the perverse effect of subverting the U.N.’s commitment to refugees, she explained, because it produced a system where those who could afford to pay traffickers – with money, or their flesh – found their way into the Western world, not necessarily those most in need of refugee status.
Meloni asked if the civilized world should “allow these criminals to establish who has the right to be saved, and who doesn’t,” and answered: “I don’t think so.”
“I believe it is the duty of this organization to reject any hypocritical approach to this issue, and wage a global war without mercy against traffickers of human beings,” she declared.
Meloni said part of the solution should be to encourage improvement in the developing world, to guarantee “the right of not having to emigrate – of not being forced to leave one’s home, one’s family, to cut off one’s roots, and being able to find in one’s own land the conditions necessary to achieve one’s own fulfillment.”
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“Here, too, we must have the courage to tell it like it is,” she continued. “Africa is not a poor continent. To the contrary, it is rich with strategic resources. It holds half of the world’s minerals, including abundant rare earths, and 60 percent of arable lands that are often not utilized.”
“Africa is not a poor continent – but it has been often, and still is, an exploited continent,” she stressed, blaming “predatory” interventions from foreign powers and “paternalistic” attitudes towards African politics.
Meloni called on advanced nations to proceed with care as they develop world-shaking technologies like artificial intelligence.
“The applications of this new technology may offer great opportunities in many fields. We cannot pretend to not understand its enormous inherent risks,” she said. “I’m not sure if we are adequately aware of the implications of technological development, whose pace is much faster than our capacity to manage its effects.”
“We were used to progress that aimed to optimize human capacities, while today we are dealing with progress that risks replacing human capacities,” she cautioned. “Today, the human intellect risks being replaced, with consequences that could be devastating, particularly for the job market.”
“We need global governance mechanisms that ensure these technologies respect ethical boundaries, that technological evolution is put to the service of humanity, and not vice versa,” she urged.
Meloni concluded by calling for U.N. Security Council reforms that would “make it more representative, transparent, and effective” by providing “a fair geographical distribution of seats” to “strengthen regional representation.”
The Italian prime minister described the current Security Council roster as a relic of “an order frozen in time, established by the outcomes of conflict that ended 80 years ago, in another century, in another millennium.”
Meloni said a reformed Security Council would give “everyone the opportunity to demonstrate their worth.”
“On these, and many other issues, we will be tested on our capacities to govern our times,” she said.