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Press Release – UN/Italy. The young people, leaders for peace. The “Rondine” model to the UN

New York, December 10, 2018. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Italian NGO Rondine Cittadella della Pace has presented at the United Nations the initiative “Leaders for Peace. Rondine youth appeal for Human Rights”. The event, promoted in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, has been co-sponsored by the UN Office of the Envoy for Youth, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Chaired by the Permanent Representative of Italy, Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, and moderated by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Alison Smale, the event has provided an opportunity to launch an appeal addressed to the International Community for the reduction of armed conflicts and in support of peace and human rights. A young Israeli and a young Palestinian – on behalf of the 200 students of the Rondine project – have read together the Appeal, asking for a concrete commitment to the enhancement of the role of young people and their training as peace leaders. The Appeal was presented to the President of the Italian Republic, Mattarella, on the 13th of October.

“We live in a world with the largest youth generation in human history: 1.8 billion, 90% of which living in developing countries. Most of them live in regions afflicted by conflict and instability and are the most affected by poverty, disease, abuse, terrorism and violent extremism. Protecting them is a priority, but we must not limit ourselves to consider them only as victims. Young people are the leaders of the future, those who have the power to shape it. In order to promote peaceful, stable and prosperous societies, it is essential to give them their rightful role as protagonists. Young people are the real drivers of change,” Zappia commented.

The Rondine model offers a concrete example of how necessary it is to build peace from the ground up: laying down the foundations of peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding. The association’s initiatives in support of reconciliation processes in many countries throughout the world prove that this “bottom-up approach”, placing the most vital forces of society at the center, is the right one to follow. Italy strongly believes in this approach: dialogue and constructive engagement – which are at the very heart of diplomacy – are the key to preventing conflicts and consolidating a lasting peace,” the Ambassador said
“The Secretary General has put preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding at the core of his efforts for a deep reform of the entire UN system, which we strongly support. This is a real paradigm shift: let us focus on how to prevent crises, not just on how to solve them.

Let us invest in the future, instead of scrambling to remedy the mistakes of the past. Let us invest, first and foremost, in young people,” the Ambassador said, highlighting that the commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights, in particular those of women, children and young people, is a priority of Italy’s action at the United Nations, in the Human Rights Council where it will seat starting January 1st, 2019, as in any multilateral or bilateral forum and it is, as well, a key principle of the Italian development cooperation policy. Zappia recalled the Italian support for the UN Envoy for Youth, the Youth Agenda 2030 and its participation in the Platform on Human Rights Education and Training.

Established 20 years ago, Rondine – Cittadella della Pace welcomes in its villages young people from countries in armed conflict or in post-conflict situations and helps them, through peaceful coexistence and training, to overcome the “culture of the enemy” and then able to return to their communities as active promoters of dialogue and reconciliation.