» Root causes of violence can be tackled by city networks
21.04.2017 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

Root causes of violence can be tackled by city networks

UNESCO participated in the World Forum on Urban Violence and Education of Coexistance and Peace, held in Madrid, from 19 to 21 April 2017. It gathered mayors, governors and city authorities, urban networks, civil society actors and international organization to reflect upon the root causes of urban violence and strategies to address it. Several representatives from the UNESCO International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR cities were present.

Organized by the city of Madrid, with the support of the city of Paris, the Forum was opened by H.M. the King of Spain who highlighted the importance of a culture of peace to counter violence and the key role of cities in building effective and accountable institutions. He acknowledged the role of city networks in tackling the root causes of violence, including ICCAR. The Mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, stressed the importance of turning cities into spaces for dialogue, avoiding a rhetoric shaped by prejudice that leads to violence. The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, emphasized how inclusive urban planning and accessible housing is key to guaranteeing ‘access to the city’, and therefore to mitigate violence.

Representatives of ICCAR participated in a plenary on violence caused by racism and xenophobia. The Mayor of Montevideo, lead city of ICCAR’s Coalition of Latin American and Caribbean Cities against Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia, Daniel Martinez pointed that structural economic inequalities foster urban violence, especially affecting minority groups in Uruguay. The Vice-Mayor of Tangiers, Mr Driss Temsamani, member of the Coalition of Arab Cities against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance, highlighted the role of multilingualism to foster coexistence and showcased Tangiers as an example of a multicultural and welcoming city. Golda El-Khoury, ICCAR Secretary and Chief of the Inclusion and Rights Section of UNESCO, emphasized the role of youth participation in preventing violent extremism, and how global citizenship education provides young women and men with the soft skills and opportunities to play positive roles in their communities towards building a culture of peace.

An ICCAR Side-event brought together Mayor Martinez, Vice-Mayor Temsamani, Pam McConnell, Deputy Mayor of Toronto, representing the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination, Benedetto Zacchiroli, President of the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR) and Don Lupo, Director of the Office of Citizens Assistance of the City of Birmingham, representing the US Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination.

They engaged in a debate with young people about the challenges facing local authorities in developing and implementing inclusive polices and providing quality public services, highlighting how inequalities could lead to exclusion and fostered violence, sharing stories on promoting youth participation in their communities.

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