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UN Event – “Leaders for Peace, One Year Later: Towards a Global Leaders School”

Opening statement delivered by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the UN Event on “Leaders for Peace, One Year Later: Towards a Global Leaders School” —

Thank you very much for introducing this very important conversation today and thanks also to the Department of Global Communications for facilitating this discussion.

I wish to thank my dear friends, the Ambassador of Jordan, Sima Bahous, and the Ambassador of Armenia, Mher Margaryan. It’s a pleasure to have this conversation with you and together with Silvio Gonzato Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union. I also want to thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rightsand the Office of the Special Envoy on Youth.

Exactly one year ago, during the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we organized, the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations and we promoted the official launch of the three-year “Leaders for peace” campaign. This campaign was initiated by the Italian NGO, “Rondine, Citadel of Peace,” which for twenty years has been training young people from conflict and post-conflict areas to the values of peace, reconciliation, and intercultural dialogue. The ultimate goal is to promote their role as agents of change and active builders of inclusive and peaceful societies.

On the occasionof the launch of the campaign we emphasized the innovative aspects of Rondine’s approach to peacebuilding and conflict prevention, based on the education of future leaders.

One year later, we are pleased to welcome Rondine Cittadella della Pace back to the United Nations, for an exchange of views with the protagonists of this initiative, its young students. They are tomorrow’s leaders, and we are here to bring their proposals to the place where the decisions are made about how to face today’s challenges at the global level.

Franco Vaccari, volunteers, students, I am really pleased to have you back for this conversation today.

Italy sees culture and education as indispensable instruments for consolidating peace. We firmly believe that young people have a role to play as agents of a new narrative of peace and dialogue. Having this in mind, Rondine is a source of inspiration and exemplary in the way it puts youth front and center. Peace and peaceful coexistence are built on dialogue and mutual understanding: values that these young people – despite having lived through difficult situations – have come to master through their experience at Rondine. Today, they have come here to remind us of their importance and we will listen to them very soon.

Youth, peace, and human rights are the basis of Rondine’s winning formula. With 42% of the world population under the age of 25, investing in young people, and committing to give them a role in preventing and solving conflicts, can only be the key to success. The adoption of Security Council resolution 2250 on “Youth, Peace and Security,” and the launch of the UN Strategy “Youth 2030”, indicate that we are heading in the right direction. Young people are not only victims of war, but can and must be the key to change, the true guardians of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I would also like to highlight another important element: namely, the considerable increase in the number of female participants in Rondine’s classes in recent years. This is particularly important, also with a view to promoting women’s participation in peace processes. This is a priority for Italy, we launched the Mediterranean Network of Women Mediators two years ago, in the framework of the UN Women Peace and Security agenda, and the Global Alliance of regional networks of women mediators, at this year’s opening of the General Assembly. The idea is that women must be at the core of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, they have to be there for prevention of conflict situations and also when peace is done they have to seat at the table.

As UN Secretary-General Guterres has stated on several occasions, it is no longer enough to react to conflict. Conflict must be prevented in all its forms.
Rondine’s activity is fully in line with this vision. And this is why we wanted to bring their experience back to the United Nations, with a view also to the future: namely, the Global Leaders School project, which, based on the experience accrued by Rondine in the past twenty years, aims to train new leaders to the values of peace, intercultural dialogue, and mediation.

Congratulations to Rondine for this new important step forward.