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Peace, Social Justice Discussed During International Conference in Malta

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In January, the Malta Independent published an article on the Strong Cities Network MENA Regional Workshop held in Valletta, Malta.

Source: Malta Independent

Wednesday, 31 January 2024

Mayors and other local leaders from more than 24 cities from across the Middle East and North Africa gathered with civil society organisations and international partners in Valletta for a conference organised by Strong Cities Network.

The conference was organised with the co-operation of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, the European Union under its STRIVE Cities Initiative and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

During this two-day event, participants are exploring how local governments, in cooperation with national counterparts and international partners, can mitigate the impacts of migration on social cohesion. More broadly, the workshop will focus on the importance of taking a whole-of-society approach to addressing these and other hate and extremism-related challenges, a statement by the government read.

Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government Owen Bonnici, together with Parliamentary Secretary for the Local Government Alison Zerafa Civelli and Valletta Mayor Alfred Zammit were present during this conference.

Minister Owen Bonnici emphasised the need of dialogue in order to collectively find solutions based on the realisation that peace is the only and best solution in an interconnected world facing a multitude of security challenges. He said that global solutions are only achieved through ensuring that all actors, including local leaders, understand their responsibilities to mitigate and resolve threats to peace and security.

The Minister stressed that due to its geographical positioning, Malta has always served as a point of contact between European countries and the northern shores of the Mediterranean. “This has provided us with the opportunity to assume the role of promoters of dialogue and regional collaboration, actively pursuing peace.”

Parliamentary Secretary Alison Zerafa Civelli said that community leaders have the duty to listen to their communities and work in favour of improving the quality of life of their citizens. “As policymakers and leaders of our communities, we should strive for social justice by being accessible and responsible for the communities under our responsibility,” Parliamentary Secretary Alison Zerafa Civelli said.

Eric Rosand, Executive Director of the Strong Cities Network, expressed appreciation to the Government of Malta for welcoming Strong Cities and local officials from across the Middle East and North Africa. He said that this further demonstrates Malta’s commitment to promoting cooperation and peace and security in the Mediterranean region and beyond.

“This initiative is a powerful opportunity to empower and unlock the power of cities and local communities across the region to address these challenges. Through the Strong Cities MENA Regional Hub, local governments are cooperating and working together to share lessons and practical steps to help build resilient communities,” Rosand said, whilst emphasising that this conference is giving the opportunity for exchanging of ideas, share successes and forge lasting partnerships in the fight against hate, extremism and polarisation.