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Western Balkans Regional Hub: Strengthening the Role of Cities to Address Hate, Extremism and Polarisation Through Enhanced National-Local Cooperation

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On 5-6 September 2023, the Strong Cities Western Balkans Regional Hub convened more than 50 mayors and other local government officials, as well as national government, civil society and multilateral stakeholders across the region for a workshop focused on strengthening the role of cities in addressing hate, extremism and polarisation through enhanced national-local cooperation (NLC).

Supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) and the US Department of State, the workshop enabled local, national and international stakeholders to reflect on the existing barriers to effective prevention-related NLC while discussing ways to improve collaboration. Participants generally agreed that Western Balkans states still see most security issues as the responsibility of national governments and security agencies, with cities feeling left out despite their deep understanding of community-level vulnerabilities to hate and extremism. As a result, participants welcomed Strong Cities efforts to bring local governments to the table with their national counterparts. 

Key themes highlighted during the workshop included:

Participants recognised that local authorities and their role in prevention are gaining prominence in national strategies across the region. However, the consensus was that there is still a long way to go in moving from paper to practice by seeing effective NLC materialise in the day-to-day delivery of prevention initiatives at the community-level.


Event Report