Rondine’s President Franco Vaccari and H.E. Mr. Ronald Flores Vega, Ambassador of Costa Rica in Rome.
By Guido Lanfranchi.
One year ago, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, an innovative conflict resolution NGO called Rondine launched the Leaders for Peace campaign. This seemingly utopic initiative asked all 193 UN member states to give up a symbolic part of their defense budgets, in order to invest it in scholarships for future peace leaders, as well as in the introduction of human rights education in their national education systems. Today, Rondine’s campaign already seems a bit less utopic, thanks to the declaration of support received by the government of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is known internationally for its strong commitment to peace. In 1949, in the wake of a civil war, the country decided to renounce having an army, leveraging the ensuing savings to invest in other sectors, especially education and sustainable development. The country’s commitment to peace was further strengthened over the following decades, when the government officially declared its policy of neutrality and became the host of important institutions such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the UN’s University for Peace.
On July 23rd, 2020, Costa Rica reconfirmed its commitment to peace when H.E. Mr. Ronald Flores Vega, the Costa Rican Ambassador in Rome, formalized his country’s support for the Leaders for Peace campaign. The signature took place at the Costa Rican Embassy in Rome, in front of Rondine’s President Franco Vaccari, and in video-contact with Yanine, a Rondine alumni who joined in from her hometown in Colombia.
Costa Rica is the second nation to officially support the Leaders for Peace campaign – joining Italy, whose commitment was formalized by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte a year ago.
Moreover, the campaign has a number of international supporters for its high-level events, such as Jordan, Armenia, Sierra Leone, and the European Union, and it has also received a moral endorsement from the Holy Father, Pope Francis. As Mr. Vaccari proudly noted during the ceremony of signature at the Costa Rican Embassy, “the international community recognizes the need to train a new generation of young leaders for the world to come”.
In parallel to the Leaders for Peace campaign and the advocacy vis-à-vis governments, Rondine’s activities have also continued on different fronts, including the organization of events and public debates. This has not taken place without hurdles, most notably due to the current pandemic and the ensuing impossibility of holding in-person meetings at Rondine’s Citadel. Yet, the organization did find a way around these problems by moving its events online – thus creating the “Rondine World Room” initiative, a series of five online roundtables on youth leadership and conflict resolution. The virtual events have taken place through May and June 2020, and they have covered different geographic regions, starting with the Americas and the moving eastwards to the Mediterranean basin, Europe, Africa, and finally the Caucasus.
The World Room discussions have featured the presence of many different actors. Rondine students, both current ones and alumni, have naturally been part and parcel of the debate, contributing by sharing their experiences as students in Rondine and – in some cases – as current leaders in their countries. Moreover, to enrich the discussion, the organization has also reached out to a large pool of high-level speakers, including ambassadors from nine different countries, representatives from supranational institutions such as the EESC and ECOWAS, as well as international experts in the field of peacebuilding from Italy and abroad.
Despite any hurdle, Rondine’s effort to contribute to a more peaceful world continues undaunted.
About the author:
Guido Lanfranchi is a student and young professional in the field of international affairs. He has pursued his studies both at Leiden University and Sciences Po Paris, where he is currently enrolled. In parallel, he has been gaining professional experience through internships (first at the Council of the European Union, and currently at Clingendael Institute), as well as by working as reporter and associate editor for Diplomat Magazine The Netherlands. His research and work focus on the Middle East and Africa, and especially on conflict situations in these regions.