arrow-circle arrow-down-basicarrow-down arrow-left-small arrow-left arrow-right-small arrow-right arrow-up arrow closefacebooklinkedinsearch twittervideo-icon

City Spotlight: Danilovgrad, Montenegro

The Municipality of Danilovgrad has some 18,000 inhabitants, with the majority being Montenegrin and around 25% being ethnic Serbs. It shares its southern border with the capital, Podgorica, while its north-western and northern borders connect with the industrial hub of Nikšić. To the southwest and west lies Cetinje, Montenegro’s former royal capital and the location of a 2022 mass shooting that killed 10 people, including two children.   

Danilovgrad first engaged Strong Cities at its Western Balkans Regional Hub’s inaugural workshop in February 2023. The Municipality formally became a member of Strong Cities Network in July 2023, and has since sought its support to establish a city-led multi-actor prevention network, or “Local Safety Council” (see “How is the local government responding?”). 


What is the local government concerned about?

The Municipality has voiced alarm about the rise in hate speech and tension between different ethnic and religious communities in the city, which takes place in the context of increased political and ethnic polarisation both in Montenegro and the wider region. The city’s level of unease rose following a shooting in the nearby Montenegrin city of Cetinje in August 2022 and two mass shootings in neighbouring Serbia in May 2023, which took place within 48 hours of each other, with one taking place in a school and the other appearing to be inspired by neo-nazism. With three mass shootings within ten months in a region that has historically experienced few such tragedies, there is concern about whether enough is being done to proactively address the grievances that might lead to violence.  

The Municipality is keen to ensure such violence does not impact its own residents. However, it has raised a number of challenges to effectively implementing violence prevention measures. This includes a lack of technical capacity to address violence and its causes, understanding of the hate and extremist threat environment specifically and dedicated municipal funds to sustain local prevention efforts.

How is the local government responding?

Inspired by the prevention efforts of other cities across the Western Balkans, such as Kumanovo (North Macedonia), which officials from Danilovgrad were able to learn from at the Western Balkans Regional Hub’s inaugural workshop, the Municipality has committed to building its own multi-actor prevention infrastructure. To do so, the Municipality first sought to address its technical capacity gaps, and thus requested support from the Hub to host a peer learning event on multi-actor city-led prevention networks. The two-day event, which took place in July 2023 and included the active participation of Mayor Aleksander Grgurovic, facilitated the sharing of best practices and lessons learned in city-led prevention between the Municipality of Danilovgrad and the Strumica (North Macedonia), Novi Pazar (Serbia), Podgorica (Montenegro) and Brčko District (Bosnia and Herzegovina). 

The workshop provided the Municipality with several takeaways to inform the development of its Local Safety Council. These include: 

In addition, to help ensure sustainability and facilitate support from the national government, the city is drafting a Council action plan that aligns with relevant national strategies. 

What’s next?

The Municipality’s priority over the coming months is to fully operationalise its Local Safety Council, drawing from the above lessons and continued technical support provided by Strong Cities. The Mayor will oversee the Council’s establishment, including to work with communities and different city agencies to ensure adequate representation and joint decision-making around its composition and mandate.  

Finally, to facilitate this process, the city will benefit from a dedicated local prevention expert (recommended by the Regional Hub), who will support the Council – once established – with drafting its action plan and aligning it with existing national strategies and Montenegrin laws. The Regional Hub will further support the Municipality by helping it apply relevant findings and learnings from the Strong Cities’ new Guide for Cities, which provides recommendations and case studies for enhancing city-led prevention. 

Is your city a Strong City?

Strong Cities membership is open to local authorities at the city, municipal or other subnational level. Membership is free of charge.