Acting on shared experiences: FCT 2011 Report Launch

20120612 FCT 2011 Poster

At Parliament Buildings, where the Northern Ireland Assembly sits, I was responsible for organising an event for our Forum for Cities in Transition project, which is an international network of mayors, councillors, municipal officials, business people, and representatives of the voluntary and community sector.

The Forum for Cities in Transition is an initiative of the John Joseph Moakley Chair at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The Secretariat is share by the Northern Ireland Foundation and the Moakley Chair.

The main objective of the event was to highlight and increase awareness of:

  • the work of the Forum’s members in Derry-Londonderry, especially the hosting of the annual Forum conference in the Maiden city, 23-26 May 2011
  • the developing relationship between Derry-Londonderry and fellow Forum cities, especially Mitrovica (Kosovo).

In regards to the first, there are two publications that have been produced (see embedded versions below), both with support from the Community Relations Council(CRC):

  1. Bridging the Gap, which is an official report of last year’s conference, and provides general background of the Forum and its work
  2. Shared Space Issue 13, a more academic focused journal published by the CRC; this issue was dedicated to the proceedings of last year’s conference

In regards to the second, there was a recent study trip by Derry-Londonderry Forum members to Mitrovica. This was a reciprocal trip of a study visit by Kosovo Police members from Mitrovica to Derry-Londonderry in May 2011.

During that March trip in Mitrovica, the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, William Hay MLA, attending a meeting of the local Forum group, after a walking visit of the city, including the northern, Serbian-populated section.

The event at Parliament Buildings on 12th June was well received by those who attended, which included former Assembly Speaker, Lord John Alderdice; current Assembly Deputy Speaker, Francie Molloy MLA; MLAs from Foyle and East Londonderry: Pat Ramsey, John Dallat and David McClarty; Robin Newton MLA; Minister for the Department of Employment and Learning, Stephen Farry MLA; Ray Mullan and Bebhinn McKinley (Community Relations Council); Stephen Moore and Graeme McCammon (NI-CO); and other associates and friends.

The Speaker, William Hay MLA, was scheduled to address the audience, but was unable to leave the proceedings of the Assembly; Deputy Speaker, Francie Molloy MLA, spoke on his behalf, underlining the Assembly’s desire and commit to develop practical links with legislative assemblies on other areas of conflict or post-conflict, which is a validation of the Forum’s 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.

Several other speakers followed, with Michael Doherty as chair of the Derry-Londonderry Forum serving as emcee. I produced the following video, which encapsulates all of the presentations as well as the background and current work of the Forum:

I was grateful for the photography services of Kevin Cooper, who demonstrated his professional acumen in securing a good variety of images of the day. I highly recommend Kevin and look forward to using him again:

The event was reported in the following places:

Here are the said reports with following press statement:

FORUM FOR CITIES IN TRANSITION
2ND ANNUAL CONFERENCE

DERRY-LONDONDERRY
23TH – 26TH MAY 2011

OFFICIAL REPORTS

Bridging the Gap tells the story of the Forum for Cities in Transition — its birth and underlying philosophy. It also describes what the 2011 conference sought to do and reflects on the difference that it has made in the journey to peace, both locally and internationally.

Shared Space is a research journal that addresses themes of peace, conflict and community relations in Northern Ireland, and is published by the Community Relations Council.

A special issue was dedicated to the work of the Forum for Cities in Transition. The Forum is grateful to the Community Relations Council for providing an invaluable opportunity to present the Forum’s work through the Bridging the Gap report and the special issue of Shared Space.

FORUM FOR CITIES IN TRANSITION
PRESS STATEMENT
13 JUNE 2012

“Maiden City acts on shared experiences”

The city of Derry-Londonderry has celebrated a significant contribution to lasting peace, not only within its own constituency but also in 12 cities in conflict zones across the world.

Yesterday saw the launch of Bridging the Gap — a report of a major international conference held in the city last year. The event was held at Parliament Buildings, with support from the Speaker’s Office.

The conference demonstrated how political and community leaders of Derry-Londonderry are actively working with cities in other conflict zones to take practical actions that improve the livelihoods of all citizens of the Maiden City.

The report was published with backing from the Community Relations Council, and describes the work of the Forum for Cities in Transition and proceedings of its annual conference in May 2011 in the city’s Guild Hall.

Former Chair of the local Derry-Londonderry Forum group, Angela Askin (Community Relations Officer, Derry City Council) said:

“The conference brought together over 70 delegates from 12 cities that have experienced violent conflict — places as diverse as Kirkuk in Iraq; Jerusalem in the Middle East; Kaduna in northern Nigeria; and Mitrovica in Kosovo.

“It was an opportunity for people who are working through their own deep wounds of division to honestly share how they are meeting the challenges in their communities transitioning from conflict to lasting peace. We are not just an annual gathering or a mere talking shop — our actions are making the momentum for peace unstoppable.”

Askin thanked all funders who supported the conference, including Monitor, The Ireland Funds, the International Fund for Ireland, and especially Irish Aid (Department of Foreign Affairs), whose vision for offering local experiences for useful and practical undertakings coincides with that of the Forum’s.

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. It is a means of bringing together many different sectors of local society to find new ways of working together for the common good.

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 is an initiative of Professor Padraig O’Malley (John Joseph Moakley Chair at the University of Massachusetts Boston). The Secretariat is shared by the Northern Ireland Foundation and the Moakley Chair.

Allan Leonard (Director of the Northern Ireland Foundation) remarked upon the work of members of the Derry-Londonderry Forum’s work:

“On behalf of the Forum Secretariat, we could not be more pleased with the local ownership and execution of last year’s conference. The Derry-Londonderry Forum excelled at delivering outcomes that it pledged at previous Forum gatherings.

“For example, there have been two exchanges between local PSNI officers and their counterparts in the Mitrovica branch of the Kosovo Police, learning from our community based policing model.”

The report’s author, Earl Storey, explained how Derry-Londonderry was witness to key events that shaped Northern Ireland’s conflict over the years:

“Last May we had the opportunity to invite those from other conflict zones, to share our story of our continuing journey towards peace. It was an encouragement to us to reflect on how far we have progressed on that journey — breaking a historic cycle of division and violence.

“It also reminded us of what drives our desire for peace. There is nothing so heart-rending as seeing the raw pain of a family who have lost a loved one to violence. This is the real purpose of bringing cities together in the Forum for Cities in Transition — so we never have to see that again — the human cost is too great.”

ENDS

NOTES

The 2012 annual conference of the Forum for Cities in Transition will take place in Kirkuk, Iraq, from 7-11 October.

Peace professor: What keeps people apart are barriers ‘created mostly by their governments’ (WBUR)

Peace professor: What keeps people apart are barriers ‘created mostly by their governments’
http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2011/06/17/ireland-ethnic-omalley
Here And Now (WBUR)
17 June 2011 

Here And Now Guest: Padraig O’Malley, professor of international peace and reconciliation at the University of Massachusetts:

The city of Derry, once a flash point during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, was the setting for the latest meeting of the Forum for Cities in Transition.

Participants from other divided cities around the world attended the conference as part of a long process to bridge ethnic gaps.

UMASS International relations professor Padraig O’Malley told Here & Now‘s Monica Brady-Myerov that “what keeps people apart is not people, it’s artificial barriers created mostly by their governments.”

 

Haifa as a Model City of Joint Living project gains international recognition (New Israel Fund)

20110617 NIF Shatil

MARSHOOD FathiHaifa as a Model City of Joint Living project gains international recognition: A first-hand report from Fathi Marshood, director of SHATIL in the North
http://www.nif.org/component/content/article/13-stories/1119-haifa-as-a-model…
Fathi Marshood (New Israel Fund)
16 June 2011

Last month, Shahira Shalabi, head of SHATIL’s Shared Society projects, and I had the privilege of sharing the lessons and challenges of SHATIL’s Haifa as a Model City of Joint Living project with representatives of cities in transition from throughout the world.

The project works to transform Haifa into a shared city based on partnership respecting all residents and strengthening a mutual sense of ownership over life in Haifa.

It was an invaluable learning experience for all of us to hear about the work of and mingle with representatives from Beirut; Belfast; Derry/Londonderry; Kaduna (a new city in Nigeria); Kirkuk, Iraq; Mitrovica, Kosovo; the borough of Mitte in Berlin; Mostar, Bosnia; Nicosia, Cyprus; Jerusalem and Ramallah.

We met together in the Forum for Cities in Transition second annual conference in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland for five days to advance our efforts to bring peace to the cities in which we live and love – and sometimes clash.

Participation in the conference and the related forum position SHATIL as a social change leader both locally and internationally. Every other delegation – with the exception of Beirut – was organized by the municipalities.

The Haifa delegation of three Jews and three Arabs, including members of the Haifa City Council and leaders in municipal planning and social services, was organized by SHATIL.

There were many moving moments in the conference for me, including the presentation of a Kurdish woman from Kirkuk whose husband was killed by the authorities for his anti-establishment views. This woman grew from her tragedy and today sits on the Kirkuk City Council with Turks, Christians and Sunni and Shiite Muslims and tries to promote a different view of the future of her city.

In Kaduna, Nigeria, where the conflict is between Muslims and Christians, thousands of people were slaughtered and churches and mosques were burned.

To see representatives of these communities working together now is simply amazing.

In one of our efforts to support one another, we invited Serbian and Albanian volunteers from Kosovo to Haifa for 10 days in August, two of which will be devoted to a workshop on conflict management. SHATIL is planning the program and the Haifa Municipality is hosting the group.

We are also thinking about the feasibility of inviting representatives of these cities to Haifa in order to work on promoting women’s issues and participation in the peacemaking process.

One of the tools we learned about that we would like to incorporate into our program is the use of art to promote coexistence with both children and adults. And of course others learned from our experiences as well.

We left inspired. If people who have lived through such dire conflicts can succeed – we can, too.

Northern Ireland Foundation Citizenship Award 2010 Report

20110614 NIF Citizenship Award Report
Sanja Mrkic (CCSD), Martin McGuinness (Deputy First Minister, OFMDFM), and Vuk Mitrovic (CCSD), Forum for Cities in Transition, 2011 conference, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Back in May 2010, on behalf of the Northern Ireland Foundation, I presented a Citizenship Award to Vuk Mitrovic and Sanja Mrkic, youth programme workers at the Centre for Civil Society Development (CCSD), in Kosovska Mitrovica.

As part of the award, we sponsored a study visit to Northern Ireland, which happened from 15-27 May 2011.

By all accounts, Vuk and Sanja enjoyed their visit and remarked how much they benefitted from their learning experiences here.

You can read below a report written by Vuk:

‘Integrated Communities’ featured in Forum for Cities in Transition 2011 (RDC)

‘Integrating Communities’ featured in Forum for Cities in Transition 2011
http://www.rdc.org.uk/news/default.asp?ID=1053&itemId=4&topicId=2&amp…
(Rural Development Council)
31 May 2011 

The RDC managed programme was featured in the presentations of International Fund for Ireland at the Forum for Cities in Transition during Community Relations Week.

Speaking at the event International Fund for Ireland Chair, Denis Rooney CBE said: “This week’s conference has provided the Fund with the perfect opportunity to showcase its work to an interested, knowledgeable and very influential national and international audience. With more than 25 years’ experience of developing and funding initiatives that tackle segregation and support reconciliation between Unionists and Nationalists we are committed to sharing our experiences and expertise with other countries and regions who want to move beyond conflict to create more stable civic societies”.

International Fund for Ireland plays key role at the Forum for Cities in Transition 2011 second annual conference (IFI)

20110528 IFI 02
Pictured at the conference are from left : Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, Dr Denis Rooney CBE, Chairperson of the Derry-Londonderry Forum for Cities in Transition Angela Askin, Director, Forum for Cities in Transition Padraig O’Malley, Junior Ministers, OFMDFM Martina Anderson MLA and Jonathan Bell MLA (c) Lorcan Doherty Photography

International Fund for Ireland plays key role at the Forum for Cities in Transition 2011 second annual conference held in the Guildhall, Derry-Londonderry
http://www.internationalfundforireland.com/component/content/article/93-press…
(International Fund for Ireland)
28 May 2011

The International Fund for Ireland played a key role at the Forum for Cities in Transition second annual conference held in the Guildhall, Derry-Londonderry this week.

Chairman of the Fund, Dr Denis Rooney CBE, said: “This week’s conference has provided the Fund with the perfect opportunity to showcase its work to an interested, knowledgeable and very influential national and international audience. With more than 25 years’ experience of developing and funding initiatives that tackle segregation and support reconciliation between Unionists and Nationalists we are committed to sharing our experiences and expertise with other countries and regions who want to move beyond conflict to create more stable civic societies”.

20110528 IFI 01
Pictured at the conference are from left :Junior Minister OFMDFM Jonathan Bell MLA, Deputy First Minister Mr Martin McGuinness MP MLA, Chairperson of the Derry/Londonderry Forum for Cities in Transition Angela Askin, Director, Forum for Cities in Transition Padraig O’Malley , Junior Minister OFMDFM Martina Anderson MLA, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, Dr Denis Rooney CBE, Mayor of Derry Mr Maurice Devenney and Gregory Campbell MP MLA (c) Lorcan Doherty Photography

Divided cities in peace meet (Londonderry Sentinel)

Divided cities in peace meet
http://www.londonderrysentinel.co.uk/news/local/divided_cities_in_peace_meet_…
(Londonderry Sentinel)
26 May 2011

TWELVE cities – formerly riven by conflict and communal violence – sent representatives to Londonderry this week to take part in the second annual conference of the Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT).

Belfast, Beirut, Kirkuk, Kaduna, Nicosia, Jerusalem, Haifa, Mitte, Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica, Mostar, Nicosia, and Ramallah were all represented at the Forum which 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 was established by Irish native, Professor Padraig O’Malley at the University of Massachusetts Boston in April 2009.

At this year’s conference the Northern Ireland Peace Process takes centre stage and senior negotiatiors from all sides of the conflict have been sharing with their international audience how they concluded that violence would only perpetuate killing.