Local government is the closest form of government to the public. Whilst national government determines foreign policy and directly engages through international institutions like the United Nations and the International Climate Change Conferences, it is local towns, cities, counties and regions that both put into action core local strategies, but are also so often impacted directly by national and international decisions.
For many years Mayors for Peace has had a campaign that ‘Cities are not targets!’ It is our urban areas who are most likely to be targeted in both low-level civil wars, and all types of modern conflict between states, as well as being targeted by weapons of mass destruction such as chemical, biological and, above all, nuclear weapons. Mayors for Peace is a registered NGO at the United Nations and it works tirelessly with other international organisations such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the International Peace Bureau and Religions for Peace.
As well as working against the de-escalation of conflict and the abolition of nuclear weapons, there are many examples of other ways towns and cities promote peace at the local level. The second core pillar of the work of Mayors for Peace is to promote the development of safer, more resilient, more sustainable and above all more peaceful towns, cities, counties and regions. This includes encouraging peace education programmes at the schools and further education level, promoting tolerance and both multifaith and multicultural communities at the local level, reducing tension and encouraging community cohesion.
The European Chapter will seek to showcase this work, both in promoting best practice examples and in working together through international forums and local government organisations like the United Cities Local Government (UCLG).