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Italy's Role in U.N. Security Council

OSIA Spearheads Campaign to Keep Italy's Role in U.N. Security Council

100,000 Petitions Presented at White House

Contact: Diane E. Crespy, (202) 547-2900

Washington, D.C., June 4, 1999 - The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the largest and longest-established organization of Italian-American men and women in the United States, presented to White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and National Security Council Senior Director of Strategic Planning Antony Blinkin 100,000 signed petitions urging the preservation of the current arrangement assuring Italy a permanent role in the United Nations Security Council, May 20, 1999, at the White House.

"In addition to Italy's increasingly expanding international political and economic importance, we believe there are other reasons why it is in the interest of the United States to support Italy's present role in the United Nations Security Council," OSIA National President Frank J. De Santis said in a letter to Podesta and Blinkin. "Italy occupies an important geopolitical position in the Mediterranean region and is of great strategic importance to the defense of Europe's southern flank. As a member of NATO and a loyal ally of the United States, Italy has always provided an unsinkable platform for air, naval and supply bases in response to crises in surrounding regions."

Podesta and Blinkin recognized the importance of any reconfiguration of the U.N. Security Council, and of Italy's major role therein. While they could not commit to any specific course of action at that time, they emphasized their awareness of Italy's key role as a strong U.S. ally over many years and during many international crises.

The campaign to assure Italy's current position began in 1996 with talks of restructuring or expanding the Security Council to possibly create more permanent members including Germany, Japan, and three other countries from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. OSIA immediately backed House Resolution 333, submitted in November 1997, by House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Rep. William J. Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) Then Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y) and Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) introduced a similar resolution in the Senate in February 1998. Since 1993, President Clinton has supported giving Japan and Germany permanent seats.

A massive campaign by OSIA on behalf of other Italian-American organizations and the Italian-American community began in 1997, and members have been able to obtain approximately 100,000 signatures, reasserting the position of Italian-Americans and adding support to the Italian government. With its grass-roots membership in excess of 500,000, OSIA assumed the leadership of the U.N. Security Council campaign. Other groups that supported the campaign included the National Italian American Foundation, UNICO National, Fieri, and the National Italian American Coordinating Association.

The United Nations Security Council is primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security. It currently has 15 members -- five members are permanent while the other 10 are voted in for two-year terms by the General Assembly. Italy is not currently a member of the Security Council; its last term was 1995-1996.

The Order Sons of Italy in America® is the largest, longest-established, and most diverse organization of Italian-American men and women in the United States. The Order was established in 1905 with the goal of providing better lives for Italian immigrants and their families, and continues today the tradition of improving and enriching lives for Italian Americans. For more information on OSIA, call (202) 547-2900.