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Fourth Global Summit — Enhancing Global-Local Cooperation: Realising the Potential of Mayors and Local Governments in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

— 3 minutes reading time

On 19 — 21 September 2023, Strong Cities Network held its Fourth Global Summit in New York City, which brought together over 240 participants, including city leaders and practitioners representing more than 115 cities from 50 countries globally. The Summit featured 11 events and provided city officials from diverse contexts with the opportunity to share and learn from promising practices for city-led prevention of hate, extremism and polarisation. Read the event report here.

The programme included a dialogue with the Global Counterterrorism Form (GCTF) on ‘Enhancing Global- Local Cooperation: Realising the Potential of Mayors and Local Governments in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism’. The event presented a rare opportunity for national and international actors to hear directly from and engage with city leaders on their approaches to addressing hate and extremism in their cities, the challenges they face and the support they need to enhance their work. Following opening remarks from local, national and international actors, the first panel drew attention the prevention potential of  mayors in Africa with input from local leaders in Botswana, Tanzania and Uganda. The second panel took a wider, international perspective of the role of cities in operationalising and sustaining inclusive approaches to prevention, featuring mayors and other local leaders from Bangladesh, Germany, Kenya and Libya.

Although Strong Cities has worked closely with the GCTF on enhancing national-local cooperation (NLC) – including on a NLC Toolkit that was launched the same week – the dialogue was a first-of-its-kind engagement between local governments that Strong Cities works with and the GCTF and its now 32 members. It stands as an important recognition of the role that local governments can play in translating GCTF and other relevant global frameworks into inclusive, sustainable local action. Eric Rosand, Executive Director, Strong Cities Network and Mohamed Fouad Ahmed, Director, Counterterrorism Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt opened the event, each emphasising the importance of an inclusive whole-of-society approach that empowers local leadership and recognising the role that both Strong Cities and GCTF play in advancing this objective.

Ian Moss, Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Bureau of Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State reinforced how important a role that Strong Cities and the GCTF are playing to support implementation of whole-of society approaches to preventing extremism and terrorism. Moss additionally stressed that while local government is best placed to involve all actors in society, cooperation with the national government in this domain is essential. Christian Bunk Fassov, Counter Terrorism Coordinator with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that, as a proud member of the GCTF and sponsor of the Fourth Global Summit and other work Strong Cities has done to build local prevention infrastructure, Denmark is committed to promoting solutions that are top-down and bottom-up at the same time to properly address the threat of extremism. Fassov emphasised that it is crucial that global frameworks reflect the needs of local communities and address the grievances that extremist organisations exploit and encouraged GCTF and Strong Cities to continue to work together to achieve this objective.

Asmaa Rhlalou, Mayor of Rabat (Morocco), and co-chair of the Strong Cities International Steering Committee (ISC), set the tone for the panels that followed by speaking about the inclusive approach to extremism prevention in her country. She discussed the city’s commitment to partnerships with community-based orgs and faith leaders to promote co-existence and tolerance, and to build a safer Rabat for all its residents. More broadly, she emphasised how in Morocco there is “coexistence among people, with multiple religious groups living together. Everyone contributes, including political entities, with supporting a culture of fighting hate and violence.” She also highlighted how, under her leadership, the city has contributed to the elaboration of national strategies for security and development, and how her city “is ready to cooperate with all cites in this network in order to get to complete development of our rural areas and cities.”


Event Report