Derry-Londonderry group finds hope in Iraq
Forum for Cities in Transition
14 October 2012
A delegation from the Maiden City returned from a four-day visit to Kirkuk, Iraq, where they shared learning with twelve cities in transition from conflict towards a sustainable future.
The delegation from Derry-Londonderry, which hosted last year’s Forum for Cities in Transition event, included Councillor Gerard Diver, Jon Burrows, Michael Doherty, and Chris Yates.
Gerard Diver, former Mayor of Derry-Londonderry, remarked:
“This was my fourth consecutive attendance of these Forum meetings, starting with a pilot conference in Boston in 2009. The annual gatherings are excellent opportunities to learn from each other.
“We found hope and confidence among our counterparts in Kirkuk, towards building a better city with improved public services for all its citizens.”
Michael Doherty, director of the Peace and Reconciliation Group, added:
“Crucially, these annual events are followed up by specific pledges — real projects delivered in collaboration with other member cities. In the past we’ve brought police officers from Mitrovica to Derry-Londonderry, to learn how we deliver community based policing.
“Excitingly, resulting from this year’s conference in Kirkuk, we will investigate how we can host a delegation from the Kirkuk Police Service to participate in the 2013 World Police & Fire Games.”
Chris Yates, PSNI Foyle Chief Inspector, and his colleague Jon Burrows, reflected on what they saw in Kirkuk:
“During our visit in Iraq, we met with civil society leaders, and we are greatly encouraged by their work, especially considering the greater security instability that they face daily.
“It is the mixture of the need to provide security and consensual policing, with broad engagement with local communities, that provides the sound foundations for sustainable peace. Witnessing other cities pursue this approach gave us confidence that we are getting things right back home.”
The Forum for Cities in Transition is an international network of mayors, councillors, municipal officials, business people, and representatives of the voluntary and community sector.
The Forum works on the principle that cities that are in conflict or have emerged from conflict are in the best position to help other cities in the same situation.
The Forum for Cities in Transition is an initiative of the John Joseph Moakley Chair at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The Secretariat is shared by the Northern Ireland Foundation and the Moakley Chair.
The 2012 annual gathering of the Forum was held in Kirkuk, Iraq, from 7-10 October, hosted by Kirkuk Provincial Council and facilitated by INSAN Iraqi Society. The participating cities were: Beirut, Belfast, Derry-Londonderry, Kaduna, Kirkuk, Mitrovica, Mitte, Mostar, Nicosia, Ramallah and Tripoli.