Irish peace process a beacon of hope: McGuinness
Sinn Féin, Belfast
30 October 2014
The Irish peace process is a beacon of hope internationally but ongoing political effort is required if current negotiations are to succeed, Deputy Minister Martin McGuinness has told the Forum for Cities in Transition International conference in Belfast City Hall today.Read more →
Progress on interfaces crucial part of lasting peace jigsaw: Ford
Department of Justice
29 October 2014
Justice Minister David Ford has addressed delegates at the Forum for Cities in Transition international conference in Belfast.
The fifth annual Forum for Cities in Transition conference is being held in Belfast for the first time and this year’s theme is ‘promoting reconciliation through resilience’ brings together delegates from 15 cities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa over the course of this week to learn, explore and share their challenges and successes.
Addressing delegates on the third day of the conference, David Ford said: “We continue to make positive strides in our efforts to tackle community tension at interfaces and move towards the creation of a safe, secure and shared future by addressing the issues of prejudice and division.
“Regrettably the recent trouble at the interface in East Belfast highlights the importance of dealing with the underlying problems in interface communities if continued progress is to be made in the removal of interface barriers.
“I utterly condemn the recent violence, which highlights the need for not only community leadership but consistent and sustained political leadership if we are to deliver economic, social, community and physical renewal within interface areas.”
The Minister continued: “Progress within interface communities is a crucial part of the peace jigsaw in Northern Ireland and as you will have seen from your visits in north and west of Belfast this week a lot of positive work is underway on the ground.
“However whilst we have made small steps forward on this issue, there is still a large body of work to do to keep it moving in the right direction. My officials are working closely with other Executive departments, statutory authorities and local community groups to give this process momentum. In particular I want to praise the work of the International Fund for Ireland funded Peace Wall Programme.
“The work undertaken by community groups under this programme, such as Duncairn Community Partnership, is valued and essential, transforming local areas that have witnessed significant cross community strife in the recent past to ones which are capable of embracing a shared, rather than divided society.”
The Minister was a key speaker at the plenary workshop on ‘Strategic focus on community work at interfaces’ at Farset International Hotel Belfast, he shared a panel with Adrian Johnston – Chair of International Fund of Ireland and Peter Osborne – Chair Community Relations Council NI.
UMass Boston hosts global peace conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland
McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts, Boston
29 October 2014
The annual gathering of the Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT), led by Professor Padraig O’Malley from the University of Massachusetts Boston, has gathered more than 70 delegates from 15 cities across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for a four-day, global peace conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland which began on October 27.
The FCT brings together an international network of mayors, councilors, municipal officials, business people, and representatives of the voluntary and community sector from warring and previously conflicted communities across the globe. 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 similar situations.
Delegations this year include representatives from Baghdad and Kirkuk (Iraq); Belfast, Craigavon, and Derry-Londonderry (Northern Ireland), Haifa and Jerusalem (Israel); Kaduna (Nigeria); Mitrovica (Kosovo); Mitte (Berlin, Germany); Mostar, Sarajevo, and Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Ramallah (Palestine), and Tripoli (Lebanon).
Working together under the theme of “Promoting Reconciliation through Resilience,” the conference includes plenary sessions and facilitated workshops on tools for community leaders, services for victims and survivors, and how to work together for a strong, fair city management. The conference is action-oriented in which participants can explore how relationships are negotiated and maintained between and among communities, how to deliver equitable basic services together, and how to set standards of transparency that will increase their populations trust in their efficacy.
According to O’Malley, “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 every day to bring about resolution and cooperation, often under terribly difficult circumstances.”
Padraig O’Malley is the John Joseph Moakley Distinguished Professor of Peace and Reconciliation and a celebrated facilitator/convener and author on topics related to divided societies, O’Malley has played major roles in breaking the gridlock and promoting peace in South Africa, Northern Ireland, and more recently the Middle East. He was one of the intellectual architects of the Good Friday Agreement, having engaged Nelson Mandela personally in the peace process.
Ira A. Jackson, dean of the McCormack Graduate School, is in Belfast to attend the conference. He said, “Northern Ireland stands as a beacon of hope and resiliency. And while true reconciliation and justice is still very much a work in progress, delegates from war torn communities around the world have been inspired by the Northern Ireland experience and peace process.”
The inaugural conference was held at UMass Boston in 2009 and subsequent forums have taken place in Mitrovica, Derry-Londonderry, Kirkuk, and Kaduna.
Peace has transformed Belfast: McCann and Bell Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister 27 October 2014
Junior Ministers Jennifer McCann and Jonathan Bell have welcomed an international forum on reconciliation in divided societies to Belfast.
The Forum for Cities in Transition is holding a four-day gathering in the city, bringing together delegates from contested cities from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to debate and learn from challenges and successes under the theme ‘Promoting Reconciliation through Reconciliation’.
Addressing the opening session, Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said: “That this gathering is being held in Belfast is an endorsement of what has already been achieved here in moving away from conflict to a united society. The Executive has prioritised building a strong and shared community in the Programme for Government. The Together: Building a United Community Strategy is driving forward work across departments to deliver progress on the ground in conjunction with individuals and groups at a local level.”
“The journey to peace takes a lot of hard work, dialogue and compromise. Belfast and the North have come a long way in recent years and have been transformed in many respects. There are many signs of progress, such as the level of inward investment and tourism numbers. While every conflict is different, and there is still much to be achieved here, I am sure the delegates will learn much from Belfast over the coming days.”
Welcoming the Forum Junior Minister Jonathan Bell commented: “At one time Northern Ireland was regarded as a place of conflict and division but we have made huge strides over the recent past, creating a place that is great to live, work and invest in.
“The Executive will continue to work hard to build a united and shared community and to create a Northern Ireland where divisions are eradicated. Interventions such as the removal of peace walls, increased shared neighbourhoods, cross community sports activities and the integrated and shared education of our children and young people, are all ways that we can build a united community. I hope that the delegates can learn from our experience to date and from our longer term plans.”
Up to 100 delegates from 14 cities including Baghdad, Haifa, Jerusalem, Mostar, Sarajevo and Tripoli will be taking part in the event. The programme includes visits across the city as well as a mixture of panel sessions and workshops.
Notes to editors:
Media enquires to OFMDFM Press Office, Tel: 028 9037 8283. Out of office hours, contact the Deputy Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440, and your call will be returned.
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.
Remarks by Professor Padraig O’Malley
Opening Ceremony of the 4th Forum for Cities in Transition Conference Murtala Mohammed Square Kaduna, Nigeria 4 November 2013
Your Excellency, Vice President Sambo; Your Excellency, Governor Yero, and all assembled Excellencies,
This is an auspicious — indeed, not just auspicious but a groundbreaking occasion for the Forum for Cities in Transition to have the privilege, as a result of the Kaduna Forum for Cities in Transition and Kaduna State, to conduct the fourth annual conference of the Forum here in Kaduna.
We are profoundly grateful for your hosting us.
Adding to the groundbreaking occasion is the presence of six Nigerian cities and four others from the rest of Africa.
To Kaduna State, we are profoundly grateful for underwriting the cost of this conference, because without your generosity we would not be here — and we will remember that and hope you have set a precedent for other cities.
Your Excellency, Governor Yero, we thank you and we will not forget.
And to the many hundreds in the balconies who have made the journey here this morning for this historic occasion, we are humbled by your presence and hope our endeavours do you, the people, justice.
It is our hope that at the close of the conference we can announce that the Kaduna FCT has established a Nigerian FCT, with the Nigerian cities who are participating in this conference as its founding members, making Kaduna the peace centre of Nigeria and the hope that a Nigerian Forum will contribute to healing the divisions among Muslims and Christians that has enmeshed Nigeria in religious conflict for decades.
To all Nigerians here, I want to say that these cities can do together what they cannot do individually — one Nigerian city can help another, bonded by their similarities, their difficulties, their divisions — and their commitment to healing those divisions.
The Forum for Cities in Transition wishes to pay a special welcome to our Balkan cities — Mostar, Sarajevo and Srebrenica — cities torn apart by horrific violence during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
And a special welcome as well to our delegation from Baghdad, a city where daily bombings erase human life instantaneously, pre-empting any kind of reconciliation between Sunni and Shia in the process, with the result that we are beginning to witness Iraq slip slowly, but with frightening speed, into a full-scale civil war, with neighbour turning on neighbour, with every possibility that Iraq will become another Syria.
Many of our delegates made arduous journeys to secure their visas and we appreciate the lengths you went to and for your patience in order to participate in this conference, and we hope you will leave here believing that your efforts were well worthwhile.
There is an official agenda, which you have — and there is an unofficial agenda — the unofficial one is of your own making.
You will have ample opportunities to meet and get to know each other during the week, to mix and not only share your narratives of conflict, but to explore ways in which you can help each other further reconciliation among your diverse communities who were once in conflict — and some who still are.
At the opening of every conference, I make a point of emphasising that this is not just a conference; it is a conference that produces outcomes — and I stress that word.
Each conference is linked to the previous one; so Kaduna 2013 is linked to Kirkuk 2012 to Derry-Londonderry 2011 to Mitrovica 2010 to Boston 2009.
The sums of your cities has created a chain that links you and enables you to engage in continuing interaction, reinforcing that you can do together what you cannot do alone.
Most importantly, as I said, this conference is about outcomes.
Each participating city will be asked at the close of the conference to make a specific commitment that will be completed before next year’s conference. To carry out a project that will further reconciliation in its own city or help another city lower on the ladder of transition and needs your help.
The diversity of ethnic groups, nationalities, religions and culture that are assembled here will produce a synergy that will bond you in the common pursuit of finding ways to further reconciliation and healing in each others’ cities.
You will work hard, you will learn much, and you can translate that learning into outcomes that will assist you on the journey to equality of services for all of your citizens, tolerance, respect for human rights, dignity for all — and will reinforce your understanding that you are all cities in recovery from great trauma, and that you must pursue a continuous process of healing; that otherwise you will slip back into conflict.
On behalf of the Forum for Cities Secretariat — Nancy Riordan, Candyce Carragher, Allan Leonard, Quintin Oliver and myself, we wish you success in your endeavours, and we are here to assist you in every way we can.
Young leaders ready to develop conflict transformation network Mitrovica/Mitrovicë 28 September 2013
An international conference of young leaders from eight cities in transition from conflict successfully concluded with pledges of mutual assistance in a series of projects to improve the livelihoods of citizens in all their communities.
From 23rd-27th September, Mitrovica hosted the inaugural Youth Forum for Cities in Transition, an offspring of the Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT). Over 50 delegates — from Belfast, Derry-Londonderry, Jerusalem, Kaduna, Kirkuk, Ramallah, Tripoli and host city Mitrovica — shared and explored how their local experiences resonate with each other.
Through this engagement process, delegates gained invaluable and practical knowledge, which they will use to build sustainable cooperative relationships within and across their communities and cities.
Delegates identified current challenges to develop conflict transformation, and collectively formed creative and practical solutions.
For example, all delegates have pledged to use social to continue the dialogue begun in Mitrovica, to keep learning from and supporting each other. All will take part in short film to inform their city’s youth about this event in Mitrovica.
Other pledges include:
Jerusalem-Northern Ireland youth worker exchange
Mitrovica-Jersualem-Ramallah youth exchange
Christian-Muslim youth dialogue workshop and peace club (Kaduna)
Conflict city clean-up in all FCT Youth Cities on UN Peace Day 2014
Young children mutual play activities (Mitrovica)
People with special needs social enterprise project selling handmade arts/crafts (Ramallah)
Mitrovica Rock School study visit to Tripoli
Concluding the conference, organiser Milos Golubovic said:
“I am very pleased on the result of this inaugural FCT youth gathering, especially the willingness of all the delegates to come to our city and listen to everyone else’s experiences.
“I am confident that every city delegation will apply what they find relevant for their own circumstances, in a practical way. That is the whole point of the Forum for Cities in Transition.”
Milos’ colleague, Ardiana Osmani, added:
“Milos and I have benefitted from our participation in other Forum events. We knew that there were great opportunities for other young people to benefit from this process of mutual learning and respect.
“I am excited about developing this conflict transformation network, through the cooperation of all the participating cities.”
The “Inaugural Youth Conference Forum for Cities in Transition” was convened by FCT Mitrovica youth workers, Milos Golubovic and Ardiana Osmani, and facilitated by Community Building Mitrovica in cooperation with D&G Solutions. The conference took place at the Cultural Centre, Mitrovica/Mitrovicë.
The conference received sponsorship and support from the governments of United States, Norway and the Netherlands, as well as from SPARK and the United Nations Development Programme, Mitrovica Municipality, International Business College Mitrovica, Forum for Cities in Transition, IKV Pax Christi and Mitrovica Forum “Mitrovicians for Mitrovica.
Liderët e rinjë të gatshëm që të zhvillojnë rrjetin e transformimit të konfliktit Mitrovicë/Mitrovica 28 shtator 2013
Konferenca ndërkombëtare e liderëve të rinjë nga tetë qytete në tranzicion nga konflikti në mënyrë të suksesshme e përfunduan me premtime të ndihmës së ndërsjellënë një varg projektesh në mënyrë që të përmirësojnë jetërat e qytetarëve në tërë komunitetin e tyre.
Prej dates 23-27 shtator, Mitrovica ishte nikoqir i inagurimit të forumit të të rinjëve për qytetet në tranzicion. Më shumë se 50 delegatë — nga Belfasti, Derry-Londonderry, Jerusalemi, Kaduna, Kirkuku, Ramallahu, Tripoli and qyteti nikoqir Itrovica – ndanë dhe shqyrtuan se si përvojat e tyre lokale të tingëllojnë arsyeshëm me njëri-tjetrin.
Përmes këtij procesi të përfshirjes, delegatët fituan njohuri të paçmuara praktike, të cilat do t’i përdorin në mënyrë që të ndërtojnë marrëdhënie të qëndrueshmë bashkëpunuese me të gjitha komunitetet dhe qytetet.
Delegatët identifikuan sfidat e tanishme në drejtim të zhvillojnë transformimin e konfliktit, si dhe në mënyrë kolektive formuan zgjidhje krative dhe praktike.
Për shembull të gjithë delegatët premtuan që të përdorin mediat sociale në drejtim të vazhdimit të dialogut të nisur në Mitrovicë, që të vazhdojnë të mësojnë dhe përkrahin njëri-tjetrin. E gjithë kjo do të paraqitet në një film të shkurtër që do të njoftoj të rinjët e qytetit sa i përket kësaj ngjarje në Mitrovicë.
Premtimet e tjera përfshijnë:
Këmbimi i punëtorëve rinor mes Jerusalemit dhe Irlandës së Veriut
Shkëmbimi i të rinjëve Mitrovicë-Jersualem-Ramallah
Modul I dialogut të të rinjëve dhe klubet e paqes mes të krishterëve dhe muslimanëve (Kaduna)
Pastrimi i qytetit nga konflikti, aktivitet që do të mbahet në të gjitha qytetet e të rinjëve të FQT-së në Ditën Ndërkombëtare të Paqes të KB-së 2014
Aktivitete lojërash të ndërsjella (Mitrovicë)
Njerëzit me nevoja të veçanta projekt i ndërmarrësisë sociale ku ata i shesin punimet e tyre të artit apo punë doret e tyre (Ramallahu)
Shkolla e rokut nga Mitrovica vizitë studimore në Tripoli
Duke e përmbyllur konferencën, organizatori Millosh Golluboviq tha:
“Jam tepër i nderuar në rezultatin e tubimit inaugural të të rinjëve të FQT-së, posaqërisht me vullnetin e të gjithë delegatëve që të vijnë në qytetin tonë dhe të dëgjojnë përvojat e të tjerëve.
“Besoj se çdo delegacion i qyteteve do të aplikoj në një mënyrë praktike atë çfarë gjejnë relevante për kushtet e tyre. Kjo është edhe esenca e Forumit për Qytetet në Tranzicion.”
Kolegija e Milloshit, Ardiana Osamni shtoj:
“Milloshi dhe unë kemi përfituar nga pjesëmarrja nga ngjarjet e tjera të forumeve. Ne e patëm parasysh se ato ishin mundësi shumë të mira edhe për të rinjë e tjerë që të përfitojnë nga ky process të respektit dhe mësimit të ndërsjellë.
“Unë jam shumë e entuziazmuar sa i përket këtij rrjeti të transformimit të konfliktit, perms bashkëpunimit të të gjitha qyteteve pjesëmarrëse.”
Konferenca inagurale “Forumi i të rinjëve të qyteteve në tranzicion” është thirrur nga FQT punëtorët e rinjë të FQT –së në Mitrovicë, Milosh Golluboviq dhe Ardiana Osmani, dhe ndihmuar nga Community Building Mitrovica në bashkëpunim me D&G Solutions. Konferenca u mbajt në Qendrën e Kulturës, Mitrovicë/Mitrovica.
Konferenca është sponzoruara dhe përkrahur nga qeveritë e SHBA-ve, Norvegjisë dhe Holandës, si dhe nga SPARK-u dhe nga Kombet e BAshkuara Programi Zhvillimor, Komuna e Mitrovicës, Kolegji Ndërkombëtar i Biznesit në Mitrovicë, Forumi i Qyteteve në Tranzicion, IKV Pax Christi dhe Forumi i Mitrovicës Mitrovica Forum “Mitrovicasit për Mitrovicën.
Mladi lideri spremni da razviju mrežu transformacije sukoba Mitrovica/Mitrovicë 28 Septembar 2013
Međunarodna konferencija mladih lidera iz osam gradova u tranziciji iz sukoba uspešno završena zaključcima o međusobnoj pomoći i saradnji u nizu projekata u cilju unapedjenja uslova života građana u svojim zajednicama.
Od 23. do 27. septembra, Mitrovica je bila domaćin prvog omladinskog foruma za gradove u tranziciji, izdanak foruma za gradove u tranziciji. Više od 50 delgata – iz Belfasta, Derija-Londonderija, Jerusalima, Kadune, Kirkuka, Ramale, Tripolija i domaćina Mitrovice – delili su i istraživali svoja lokalna iskustva i načine na koji se oni podudaraju.
Kroz ovaj proces angažovanja, delegati su stekli neprocenjiva i praktična znanja koja će koristiti da izgrade održive odnose saradnje unutar i van svojih zajednica i gradova.
Delegati su identifikovali trenutne izazove za razvoj transformacije konflikta i zajedno došli do kreativnih i praktičnih rešenja.
Jedan od primera je taj da su se svi delegati obavezali na korišćenje socijalnih mreža za nastavak dijaloga započetog u Mitrovici, kako bi nastavili da uče i podržavaju jedni druge. Svi će učestvovati u kratkom filmu kako bi informisali omladinu iz svojih gradova o ovom dogadjaju u Mitrovici.
Ostali zaključci uključuju:
Razmena omladinskih radnika izmedju Severne Irske i Jerusalima
Hriscansko – Muslimanska radionica dijaloga mladih i osnivanje mirovnog kluba (Kaduna)
Čišćenje konflikta u svim gradovima foruma za gradove u tranziciji na dan mira Ujedinjenih Nacija 2014
Zajedničke aktivnosti za decu (Mitrovica)
Projekat preduzetništva za osobe sa posebnim potrebama i prodaja ručnih radova (Ramala)
Studijska poseta Mitrovačke rok škole Tripoliju
Zaključujući konferenciju, organizator Miloš Golubovic je rekao:
“Veoma sam zadovoljan rezultatom prvog FGT omladinskog okupljanja, posebno na spremnost svih delegata da dodju u naš grad i saslušaju iskustva ostalih.
“Uveren sam da će svaki od delegata da primeni na praktičan način ono što smatraju relevatnim za svoje okruženje, što je i poenta foruma za gradove u tranziciji.”
Miloševa koleginica Ardiana Osmani je dodala:
“Miloš i ja smo imali koristi od našeg učešća na različitim dogadjajima foruma. Znali smo da postoje velike mogućnosti za druge mlade ljude da imaju koristi od ovog procesa uzajamnog učenja i poštovanja.
“Uzbudjena sam zbog razvoja mreže transformacije konflikta, kroz saradnju svih gradova koji su ucestvovali.”
“Prva konferencija za mlade foruma za gradove u tranziciji” sazvana je od strane FGT omladinskih radnika Miloša Golubovića i Ardiane Osmani, a vodila je nevladina organizacija Community Building Mitrovica u saradnji sa nevladinom organizacijom D&G Solutions. Konferencija je održana u kulturnom centru u Mitrovici.
Konferencija je održana pod pokroviteljstvom i podrškom vlada Ujedinjenih Nacija, Norveške i Holandije, kao i SPARK-a i programa Ujedinjenih Nacija za razvoj, opštine Mitrovice, medjunarodnog biznis koledza u Mitrovici (IBCM), Foruma za gradove u tranziciji, holandske organizacije IKV Pax Christi i mitrovackog foruma “Mitrovcani za Mitrovicu”.