Solidarity, education, and human rights: some of the key issues dealt with by the youth of the Cittadella della Pace in dialogue with world leaders.

“Where do human rights begin? In Rondine we find the answer: in human relationships”. These are the words of Franco Vaccari, president of Rondine Cittadella della Pace, in the framework of today’s event on the historic anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that inaugurated the third year of the Leaders for Peace campaign. Rondine’s youth call was launched at the United Nations in New York in 2018 to sensitize governments about the training of young peace leaders and, today, it tackles questions arising from old and new conflicts ignited by the Covid emergency.

“When the pandemic ends we will see the dark side of the Coronavirus, the social wound in relationships. So, – Vaccari continued -, we must seal a renewed compact, one that generates a new trust in relationships. We have found a vaccine for the virus; now, we must find a vaccine based on education against all kinds of war and violence”.

Rondine Cittadella della Pace’s young peace leaders belong to peoples involved in armed conflicts. By choosing to live their two-year training experience in Rondine, they have chosen to live with their enemy and train as future global peace leaders. Todays’ live-event – “Defusing new tensions – The post-pandemic world will need new Leaders for Peace” – has been an opportunity for them to interact with some of the highest national and international authorities, political and religious leaders, exponents of culture, diplomacy, and the academic world.


Many topics were addressed including human rights, leadership responsibilities, women’s leadership as a key to the future, climate change as a threat to humanity and social conflicts. Such an event has been an opportunity to highlight the role of young people as emphasized by Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio: “It is with great confidence that we look at the young people, but it is also the shared responsibility of national and supranational institutions that gives young people the tools to be able to contribute to the construction and reconstruction after conflicts and the pandemic, of more resilient societies willing to face the challenges that await them without sacrificing the peaceful coexistence of different cultures and religions”.

Solidarity and commitment in each individual’s community have been the keywords proposed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See: “Although this situation has produced new tensions, on the other hand, they should not be considered insuperable but rather, they are an opportunity to become peacemakers to revitalize our communities and families by seeking the common good and putting the welfare of others before our interests, this is especially genuine for leaders who have a responsibility to promote peace among their people”.


For H.H. Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, “Brotherhood and solidarity are the effective vaccine and antidote to the current social and ecological crisis”, referring to the environment: “The Church cannot remain silent in the face of threats to the human person and the integrity of creation. The ‘categorical imperative’ for all of us is to practice care for our “neighbor” and protection of the natural environment.


The keywords for an inclusive future for Enrico Letta, Dean of the School of International Affairs at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris (PSIA) – SciencesPo, are “education” and “compass”. A compass capable of guiding the life of young people, “anchored to the values of coexistence, respect of others, anchored to the value that our society needs responsible leadership, to look beyond our limits. A compass featuring cardinal directions, that only the meeting between different peoples can allow you to see”.


Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations in New York –  early supporter of the Leaders for Pace campaign since its inception in 2018 and currently promoting its values among other UN Member States after Italy’s signature – attended the event together with Maritza Chan, Deputy Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations, the second country to sign the appeal. As Chan said “For a long time young people haven’t been heard or listened to; yet, they are the most important resources we have, and must find space in all decisions concerning our future. That is why we wanted to sign the Leaders for Peace campaign, because we recognized these principles that will lead us to a future of peace”.


Among the interventions and video messages, many speeches contributed to a collective reflection – guided by the concepts of “responsibility” and “care” –  trying to identify a sustainable path towards a future of peace. Among them, also Rotimi Olawale, Executive Director and co-founder of the Nigerian Youth Hub Africa association; Tao Provaroni, from the Italian Red Cross; Vanessa Nakate, international climate justice activist from Uganda and Giorgi Gabedava, President of the Rondine International Peace Lab. Gabedava introduced some successful projects implemented by the alumni of the Citadel of Peace in response to the Covid19 emergency as “Colfratelli”, a project by Yanine from Colombia, designed to help former soldiers and people involved in the conflict that has wounded the country for the past 60 years; “Forte Silenzio” the project of Sara from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which promotes respect for human rights and the right to work through an eco-sustainable cafeteria; finally, Brigitte and Georges, which aim to raise awareness on the epidemiological situation in Bamako, Mali, and reduce conflict through dialogue, debate, and peaceful coexistence.

Current students of the World House in Rondine relaunched the call of the Leaders for Peace campaign through an intense artistic performance reminding us that “If there is no discrimination, hunger, medical insecurity, conflict, it means that we are happy, but i it also true for all the people of the world? Probably not. Our goal is to fight for fundamental human rights for us all”.

The event, moderated by Valeria Robecco, President of the United Nations Correspondents Association, was promoted by Rondine Cittadella della Pace and Rondine International Peace Lab, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Permanent Representation of Costa Rica to the United Nations, the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) and with the sponsorship of the Embassy in Italy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Youth and Youth Hub Africa.

The initiative is promoted within the global campaign Leaders for Peace with the support of the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Fondation Assistance Internationale (FAI).