The 5th annual gathering of the Forum of Cities in Transition
26 October 2014
The 5th annual Forum of Cities in Transition annual gathering will be hosted in Belfast from 27-30th October 2014. The four-day event will bring together 80 delegates from 15 divided cities across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe to learn, explore and share their challenges and successes in their process of conflict transformation.
This year’s theme will be Promoting Reconciliation through Resilience, focusing on grassroots solutions and practical outcomes, with participants representing a variety of municipal, civil society and business backgrounds in cities currently experiencing conflict.
Professor Padraig O’Malley will convene the event:
“At a time of great division in the world, it is crucial that we focus on what we can do on a practical level, to bring together opposing sections of society.
“It is imperative that we hear the voices not just of those at the extremes of conflict, but also those who work everyday to bring about resolution and cooperation, often under terribly difficult circumstances.”
Participants are from Baghdad, Belfast, Craigavon, Derry-Londonderry, Haifa, Jerusalem, Kaduna (Nigeria), Kirkuk, Mitrovica, Mitte (Berlin), Mostar, Ramallah, Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Tripoli (Lebanon).
Reconciliation, victims and survivors, community leadership and city leadership will be the topics explored, through group sessions held at numerous site visits throughout Belfast city.
Previous successful annual gatherings were held in Kaduna (2013), Kirkuk (2012), Derry-Londonderry (2011) and Mitrovica, Kosovo (2010), after a pilot event at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2009.
Included in this year’s delegations are Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa from northern Nigeria’s Kaduna state, who once led militias on opposing sides of the Muslim/Christian divide, and who both paid high personal costs in the sectarian conflict. The Pastor and the Imam have worked on successful strategies for overcoming the suspicions and stereotypes that divide communities and lead to needless violence.
Also attending will be the Director of Ramallah television station Wattan TV and seven current or former city Mayors.
The event is funded by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Irish Aid and the Reconciliation Fund), International Fund for Ireland, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Ireland Funds, and the Community Relations Council.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- Professor Padraig O’Malley is from the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, and serves as Director of the Forum for Cities in Transition. Prof. O’Malley is the author of several prize-winning books on Northern Ireland, including The Uncivil Wars: Ireland Today and Biting at the Grave.
- The event is organised with the support of the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Northern Ireland Foundation.
- Delegates are available for interview, with English speakers from most of the cities as well as interpreters in Arabic and Hebrew.
- The forum will be held in various Belfast locations including e3 Springvale Campus at Belfast Metropolitan College, Skainos Centre, Farset International and Belfast City Hall. Delegates will also have a tour of peace walls/interface areas on the afternoon of Wednesday 29 October, hosted by the International Fund for Ireland as part of its Peace Walls Programme.