The FCT Tripoli group announces the
7th Gathering of the Forum for Cities in Transition,
16-21 October 2016

The seventh gathering of the Forum for Cities in Transition brought 60 delegates from 15 cities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to Stolat, Bulgaria for a week in October to learn, explore and share their challenges and successes. The event was interactive, grassroots-focussed and emphasised practical outcomes.

City delegations included: Baghdad, Belfast, Craigavon, Derry-Londonderry, Haifa, Jerusalem, Kaduna (Nigeria), Kirkuk, Mitrovica, Mitte (Berlin), Mostar, Ramallah, Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Tripoli (Lebanon).

Under the theme of “The Roadmap to Reconciliation in Tripoli”, the four-day event focussed on how Forum members can assist the FCT Tripoli group in the development and realisation of communal reconciliation in that city.

Delegates came from a variety of backgrounds, reflecting the diversity of FCT membership:

  • Elected local government representatives
  • Municipal executive officers
  • Business people
  • Civil society organisations (voluntary and community sector)

The FCT Tripoli group is responsible for the hosting of the event.

The venue was the Stone & Compass Educational and Cultural Retreat Center, in Stolat, Bulgaria and provided with generosity by Robert Goodwin and Julie Kiernan. The Stolat center will be the permanent home for future FCT gatherings.

The event was convened by Professor Padraig O’Malley (McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston), who serves as Director of the Forum for Cities in Transition.



Dear Delegates,

WE gather to celebrate our 7th Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT) conference at our new home, our permanent address for all future FCT activities, here at Stolat, Bulgaria, surrounded by verdant mountains that turn to snowcapped peaks in winter, fresh intoxicating air to breathe in the Autumn, silent forests the sentinels guarding our proceedings.

THIS is now your home, thanks to the munificence of Robert Goodwin and Julie Kiernan who are also here to welcome you. Robert and Julie, co-founders of Stone & Compass, own 2000 acres of land that stretch in every direction and beyond from where you sit, and were it not for the financial philanthropy of Robert and Julie, none of us would be sitting here this morning – no FCT conference would be taking place and maybe not in the future.

I hope you take the opportunity to thank Robert and Julie profusely because they have given the FCT an opportunity to reinvent itself so that it can become sustainable and not struggle hand-to-mouth from one conference to the next.

BUT their generosity comes with a condition: you must take ownership of your home; you must use it to its fullest potential. Taking ownership means taking on the responsibilities and obligations of ownership and unless you invest yourselves in turning this into a home that truly meets your needs and interests; unless you seize the potential it offers, which requires your active involvement in utilizing the opportunities it provides, then the trees will lose their luster, dark shadows will cross the forests, the mountain peaks will always remain beyond your reach and you will have squandered that which has been so freely given.

YOU are either part of the FCT family that calls this home in the fullest sense of the term or you walk away.  We have not come to rent. We have come to stay. You can’t be half in and half out.

THIS conference was scheduled to take place in Tripoli, but for a variety of reasons, despite the best efforts of Nabil Shinder and Bilal al Ayoubi and their FCT team, those plans had to be shelved. Instead, we are here, at our new permanent address.

ON behalf of the Secretariat, Allan Leonard and Nancy Riordan, I want to express our appreciation of the efforts you made to come here, and especially your willingness to bear the cost of your travel, itself a barometer of your commitment.

WORK well. Stay well. Give to each other and you will receive.


Padraig O’Malley
Director, Forum for Cities in Transition


Dear FCT 2016 participants,

We would like to welcome you with open arms to the Stone & Compass Educational and Cultural Retreat Center in Stolat, Bulgaria. At Stone & Compass we believe that everyone is human first and human-to-human contact begins one on one. It is our mission to bring individuals together and create spaces that connect places. We built this global center as a place where everyone is welcome.The beauty of the surrounding 1500+ acres is the ultimate setting to foster friendships, ideas, and inspiration.

Thank you all for traveling far and wide to join one another at the 2016 Forum for Cities in Transition. Although we all may be different, engaging in authentic interactions with one another around culture and heritage allow us the opportunity to appreciate the differences and feel the similarities. Learning how to coexist peacefully and take inspiration from one another to create value in the lives of our environment and ourselves is the core philosophy of Stone & Compass.

When we met Padraig O’Malley we knew right away that the work he was doing was worth supporting and this is why we offered him the use of this beautiful land for this conference today – and for the future as well. We have given Padraig the use in perpetuity for his work and we are excited to support the FCT Stolat Center for Reconciliation and Transformation. We look forward to working with all of you for many, many, years to come.

Please accept our warmest welcome – our home is your home. We hope that you are able to have a deeply meaningful and productive forum. Do not hesitate to let us know how we might assist in your success this week.

In friendship and appreciation,


Tripoli, Lebanon

Dear Forum for Cities in Transition participants,

On behalf of the FCT Tripoli Delegation we welcome you to Stolat, Bulgaria for the 7th annual conference of the Forum for Cities in Transition, which the Tripoli FCT is hosting. We are honored to have you as our guests.

Our city has been part of the Forum since the Kirkuk FCT 2012. After years of active participation, the delegates requested to host the Forum and introduce you all to our beloved city but unfortunately many obstacles prevented us from being able to do so. Thanks to Professor O’Malley who has been following up with us for the eighteen months, we have been able to relocate the hosting of the Forum to Stolat, Bulgaria, thanks to Robert Goodwin and Julie Kiernan. We are indebted to them. We are excited to be the pioneers of this first move to a permanent home!

One of the major contributions of our delegation this year will be the draft document “Roadmap to Reconciliation in Tripoli” which will be open for discussion with all of your during the plenaries and beyond. We hope that your expertise and passion towards peace building and reconciliation would help us develop this document further and be able to pave the way for a new future in our city.

Once more, welcome to all of your delegates and guest speakers, and wish you all a fruitful and impactful Tripoli FCT.

Warmest regards,
Tripoli FCT delegation

The 7th gathering of the Forum for Cities in Transition:





0900-0930 Welcomes

  • Prof. Padraig O’MALLEY
  • Robert GOODWIN
  • Bilal Al AYOUBI
  • Nabil SHINDER

0930-1000 Convening/Remarks

  • Prof. Padraig O’MALLEY

1000-1045 Plenary: 1. Jabal Muhsin (Alawite) & Bab al-Tabbaneh (Sunni): Contextualising the Conflict

  • Prof. Emanuela DEL RE (Moderator)
  • Craig LARKIN

1115-1200 Plenary: 2. “Alawites & Sunnis” Reconciliation Proposal: An Overview

  • Prof. Padraig O’MALLEY (Moderator)
  • Bilal AL AYOUBI
  • Nabil SHINDER
  • Assad CHAFTARI
  • Jean-Paul CHAMI

1415-1500 Plenary: 3. Role of ex-Fighters in a Reconciliation Process

  • Allan LEONARD (Moderator)
  • Assaad CHAFTARI
  • Séanna WALSH
  • Christina Foerch SAAB
  • Arine HASSAN

1645-1845 Parallel Sessions: City Profiles & Presentations

4. Water Crisis

  • Bilal AL AYOUBI (Moderator)
  • Wael HASSAN

5. Craigavon

  • Allan LEONARD (Moderator)
  • Seamus McCRORY

6. Mitrovica-Mitrovice: “Facing the River: Divided City vs Inclusive City”

  • Ardiana OSMANI (Moderator)
  • Eliza HOXHA

7. Belfast: “FCT Resilience Project”

  • Allan LEONARD (Moderator)
  • David ARMITAGE

8. Palestine: Business Women’s Forum

  • Prof. Emanuela DEL RE (Moderator)
  • Doa WADI
  • Tharwat ALSHAMI
  • Jumma SALOUS

0900-0945 Plenary: 9. Trauma in Post-Conflict Situations
  • Bilal AL AYOUBI (Moderator)
  • Ziad SAAB
  • Fraser COOK
  • Laila ATSHAN

0945-1030 Plenary: 10. Communal Conversations: Tools and Best Practice to Support Reconciliation

  • Nabil SHINDER (Moderator)
  • Jean-Paul CHAMI
  • Koenraad VAN BRABANT
  • Bilal HUSSEIN

1315-1400 Plenary: 11. Individual and Group Identities as Part of the Reconciliation Process

  • Bilal AL AYOUBI (Moderator)
  • Michael DOHERTY
  • Nabil SHINDER
  • Arine HASSAN

1545-1615 Plenary: 12. Syria: “Raqqa is being silently Slaughtered”

  • Prof. Padraig O’MALLEY (Moderator)
  • Abdalaziz AL HAMZA
  • Hussam EESA

1615-1700 Plenary: 13. Kirkuk & Baghdad

  • Nancy RIORDAN (Moderator)
  • One representative from each community (6)


0900-1030 Plenary: 14. Migration: EU & Tripoli/Lebanon Perspectives

  • Nicolamaria COPPOLA (Moderator)
  • Prof. Emanuela DEL RE
  • Dr Konstantinos ZERVAS
  • Dr Marian KARAGYOZOV
  • Bilal AL AYOUBI
  • Bilal HUSSEIN
  • Koenraad VAN BRABANT

1215-1300 Parallel Sessions: City Profiles & Presentations

15. Kaduna: Youth Initiatives

  • Charlotte Manson (Moderator)
  • Afiniki WILLIAMS
  • Felix ESHAK
  • Alisha Buba YERO
  • Hajia Mero ADAMU

16. Telling your Story: Teaching Oral Communication to ex-Fighters and Refugees

  • Ardiana OSMANI (Moderator)
  • Julie KIERNAN

1400-1730 Site Visit: Tsarevgrad


0900-0945 Plenary: 17. Dysfunctional Politics: Overcoming the Obstacles it Poses to Reconciliation

  • Nabil SHINDER (Moderator)
  • Carmen GEHA

1130-1200 Plenary: 18. Haifa & Jerusalem

  • Fathi MARSHOOD
  • Amalia SA’AR
  • Suhail OMARI

1200-1230 Plenary: 19. Mitte

  • Niklas ALT
  • Jeffrey BUTLER

1230-1300 Plenary: 20. FCT Next Steps

  • Prof. Padraig O’MALLEY
  • Robert GOODWIN
  • Julie KIERNAN

1515-1545 Close: FCT Secretariat

  • Prof. Padraig O’MALLEY
  • Nancy RIORDAN
  • Allan LEONARD

The Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT) is explicitly grounded in there being tangible outcomes at the close of each conference, a commitment made by each city to carrying out a project that will further transition, reconciliation, and development in its own city and/or to help one of its sister cities where its expertise in a particular area can be of significant benefit. Commitments are designed so that cities on the higher rungs of transition assist those on the lower rungs. They are embodied in the principle that divided cities collectively can do together what they cannot do separately.

The process is reciprocal because in serving their sister cities, those further along in transition are sharply reminded of where they once were, where they are now, and where they hope to go in continuing their own processes of transition and reconciliation.

In accordance with the mission statement of the FCT, the emphasis is the realisation the of practical outcomes that would assist participating cities improve the daily lives of their citizens, and enhance engagement between officials, NGOs, and residents.

As a result of the extensive one to one networking, bilateral and multilateral deliberations that took place among city delegations at the Stone & Compass Center, both in formal and informal sessions, ten projects to assist FCT Tripoli and its Reconciliation Roadmap were pledged as the outcomes of the 2016 Forum for Cities in Transition gathering.

The effectiveness of the FCT depends on outcomes being translated into action. The FCT Secretariat pledges to follow up on every outcome agreed to ensure implementation but ultimately, responsibility for and action towards project implementation belongs to the cities themselves.

FCT Secretariat

October 2016



Report of the 7th gathering of the Forum for Cities in Transition: