On 21 September, International Day of Peace, UCLG and our members recall that peace is defined, not just by the absence of physical violence, but by inclusive communities that protect human rights, combat inequalities and treasure diversity.
The theme for the 2017 International Day of Peace is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All”, in support of the spirit of the TOGETHER campaign, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone who is forced to leave their home in search of a better future. Over the past decade, over 15 million people have lost their lives and over 40 million people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the ongoing threat of conflict. Local and regional governments around the world join the TOGETHER initiative to support diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of migrants and refugees.
Migration has been a long-standing focus for UCLG and our members. As the closest level of government to the people, local and regional governments play a vital role in providing basic services and implementing policies to welcome migrants and ensure their economic, cultural and political inclusion.
[Read more: Social Cohesion and Inter-cultural and Inter-religious Dialogue]
The role of local governments, and cities in particular, in the reception of refugees and the construction of long-lasting peace is still underappreciated. With this in mind, UCLG reiterates our call for local and regional leaders to be consulted and involved in the design and implementation of national and international peace-making and migration policies.
UCLG is about local leaders putting our priorities on the global agenda and coming together to share perspectives and find solutions to challenges such as the construction of peace”. Parks Tau
Peace Day is also an opportunity for local and regional governments to highlight that most violence occurs, not between nation states, but at local level, including the public spaces of our cities and the private spheres of our homes. Such violence includes structural violence that denies people their basic rights, and symbolic violence built on symbols that seek to legitimise the marginalisation, exclusion and expulsion of those who are different.
Local and regional governments understand that violence emerges from inequality, poorly handled conflicts and lack of dialogue and information. We therefore commit to tackling violence by building a culture of peace, that is, a culture that manages conflict through dialogue and negotiation on equal terms, using non-violent means.
[Read more: Madrid’s Commitment to peaceful cities adopted at the World Forum on Urban Violence held back-to-back with the UCLG Executive Bureau]
UCLG initiatives to foster peace at local level
UCLG has developed a series of initiatives to foster peace, social inclusion and city diplomacy.
Through our Committee on Development Cooperation and City Diplomacy and Working Group on Capacity and Institution Building (CIB), UCLG supports our members to prevent violent conflicts and work towards the construction of a firm foundation for democracy and peace.
In addition, the UCLG Peace Prize raises international awareness of local governments that are implementing strategies for conflict prevention, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction, and promotes innovative local initiatives to foster peace.
The winner of the 2016 UCLG Peace Prize was the municipality of Kauswagan, in the Lanao del Norte province of the Philippines. It was recognized by the judges for its ability to connect peace building to socio-economic development.
- UCLG Peace Prize Website
- Read the publication The UCLG Peace Prize 2016. Local Government Initiatives for Peace
- Watch the video of the UCLG Peace Prize 2017
- Watch the video Learning about SDG16