Rondine, a model recognized by the United Nations.
Youth education as the only way to global peace

The UN Under-Secretary-General Moratinos: “You can count on us, we will continue working together”.
The declaration during an event at the UNHQ in New York promoted by the Permanent Missions of Italy, Costa Rica, Monaco and with the support of UNAOC

New York, Dec. 6, 2023. “Peace is not a choice, it is a necessity, an urgency.  What I saw in Rondine is an example of how we can work together. If you have the courage to bring together people from countries in conflict, who share the same humanity, you have hope for the future. With the Swallow Initiative, we are on the right track. You can count on us, we will continue working together.” These were the words of Miguel Angel Moratinos, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for UNAOC at the opening of the event “If war is a choice, peace can be too. How young peace leaders can contribute to the UN Agenda2030,” which recently concluded at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Event co-sponsored with the Permanent Representations of Italy, Costa Rica and Monaco, with the support of UNAOC, Rondine partners and campaign supporters.

A unanimous recognition that comes from the United Nations for the experience of Rondine and its Method. An experience that focuses on young people and education for peace leadership, today’s only but powerful hope in a world so tragically pervaded by wars and armed conflicts.

Rondine is here. It is a concrete proposal, at your disposal. Use us!” These are the words of Franco Vaccari, president and founder of Rondine, who relaunches the concreteness and commitment of the Citadel in building peace starting from the lived experience of young people. “When, in discussions and negotiations, young people sit at the table, they make a difference, they change the climate of dialogue,” Vaccari continues, “the more allies we find along the way, the more young people we can bring to Rondine so that they have the opportunity to make their own contribution. The more young people we train who return to work in their own areas, the more Rondine gets out of the hamlet and expands its radius of impact.”

Young people like Phil Eke-Okocha, a former Rondine fellow from Nigeria who is now a youth content and training officer at the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDS – Youth Initiative). “I am here to echo the voices of countless young people fighting for Peace. Peace is a deliberate choice, a conscious collaborative effort. War is a choice at the expense of human life and development. I stand before me testifying to the transformative experience of Rondine. My story is just one among many. There are many people willing to transform their communities.” It is young Phil himself who calls on the United Nations to “not underestimate the power of youth-led collective action for peace.”

A concept that also makes its way into the words of Maurizio Massari, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations in New York, the first country to support the appeal of the Leaders for Peace campaign that calls on Member States to invest more in peace education, including structurally including the teaching of Human Rights in national education systems, and allocating a symbolic amount from their budgets to scholarships for bright young peace leaders.  “There is always one constant that emerges from these debates: peace as a necessity, as Moratinos said. The nexus between peace and youth education is fundamental and needs all our support and investment. I hope that in this event we managed to turn theory into practice.” Massari affirms.

The campaign will be extended to 2030, with the goal of turning “Leaders for Peace” into a permanent peace advocacy tool for youth around the world, with the aim of accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and more specifically the advancement of SDG 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies.

A call that found support from other states including Costa Rica as recalled by its Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Maritza Chan: Education and human rights are the pillars of peace. The importance of human rights for peace is just as important as peace for development. We need the voices of young people, and please speak out when it comes to military spending and nuclear weapons because nuclear weapons are aimed at society. If you want peace you have to prepare for peace. We need to prepare when we need it most.” Support also recently endorsed by the Principality of Monaco: “We need young people to reach their full potential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The work that Swallow is doing is remarkable. The Principality of Monaco has been supporting Swallow for years. The government will contribute to the creation of new peace leaders.” Says Daphne Le Son, Deputy Permanent Representative of Monaco to the United Nations in New York.

The values that pervade the Leaders for Peace campaign are inspired by a vision that also Pope Francis endorsed in 2018 immediately providing his moral support. Values that Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, also recalls: “In Rondine there is confidence, trust, there is no fear of the other. We must insist on giving this opportunity. How many peace leaders do we need! We need people with vision and experience. So we are grateful to the people and young people who have the courage to be in Swallow with their enemies.”

An experience the UN-USG Moratinos himself experienced on his own skin during his stay in Rondine and Arezzo last June as he recalls, “Peace is not a naive choice, opposed to realpolitik.  In Arezzo I felt peace, a unique alternative to the bellicosity of the world.” The U.N. Under-Secretary-General continued, speaking of his visit to Rondine and thanking Mayor Alessandro Ghinelli for his hospitality in taking part in Rondine’s mission for the occasion and bringing Arezzo’s commitment as a city of peace: “We can empower our cities to become engines of peace. Where diversity is celebrated, not feared. Swallow is one such environment struggling to create a new global leadership. Only cities that have directly experienced the consequences of war can understand the value of peace. Our cities are not simply living spaces. They are vibrant centers of hope.”

The event featured an intense debate on how to promote youth-led initiatives in the fields of peace, peacebuilding and international relations. Debate in which young people were the primary protagonists with many voices. Among them were those of the EU Youth Delegates to the United Nations. “The scars of war should not be the only thing we inherit. This is where education becomes a powerful and unique tool. When we educate young people about peace, we have the power to choose peace.” Affirmed Giulia TarielloThe first step to achieve peace is compulsory peace education starting from elementary school.” Said Lukas Svana.

With the 2023 follow-up event of Leaders for Peace at the United Nations comes a new step toward the realization of the “Global Leaders School” project that will see Rondine increasingly active in training young leaders for peace. An ongoing and increasingly widespread commitment to a world free of war and violence.

The Leaders for Peace campaign. In December 2018, seventy years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the youth and alumni of Swallow Citadel of Peace launched an Appeal to all peoples to take the first step toward a decisive breakthrough on the issue of human rights. With the Leaders for Peace campaign, Swallow asks each of the 193 member states of the United Nations to dedicate a symbolic amount from its defense budget to the training of as many global leaders capable of intervening in the world’s major conflict contexts to promote the development of peaceful social and political relations. Swallow also calls on each member state to incorporate human rights teaching and education into national education systems, integrating them with Swallow Method experiments on creative conflict transformation. The goal is the gradual extinction of war contexts from the planet through the establishment of a new culture that unmasks the false concept of the enemy and spreads among citizens the skills to positively transform conflicts, integrating Swallow Method education with human rights teaching. Also as a result of two major international events held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York (USA) in 2018 and 2019 and numerous other international events and initiatives, the campaign was able to boast the moral support of the President of the Italian Republic Mattarella, Pope Francis, the official support of Prime Minister Conte (Italy), the Republic of Costa Rica, the Chair of the European Economic and Social Committee, the Principality of Monaco, and mayors and cities. In addition, Rondine’s president and founder had the opportunity to present the campaign to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres in April 2022. In March 2023, Rondine signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Closer Cooperation on Peace Education with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations signed by the High Representative for UNAOC and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Miguel Angel Moratinos who visited Rondine last June on the occasion of Youtopic Fest.

Rondine Cittadella della Pace is an organization committed to the reduction of armed conflicts in the world and the dissemination of its methodology for the creative transformation of conflict in every context, starting from the protagonism of young people. Rondine was born in a village a few kilometers from Arezzo, Italy: this is where Rondine’s main projects for education and training are structured. The project that gives origin and inspiration to Rondine is the International campus – World House, which welcomes young people from countries that are the scene of armed conflict or post-conflict contexts and helps them discover the person in their enemy, through daily coexistence and peace leadership trainings.