Local and regional elected officials from 28 countries united against violent extremism

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Rotterdam, Netherlands, 10 November 2016 One hundred and thirty-one local elected officials and representatives of local authorities from 28 European countries gathered in Rotterdam for the Summit of Mayors for the “Alliance of European cities against violent extremism”, on 9 November. This summit was a joint initiative of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the City of Rotterdam and the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus).

the-mayor-of-rotterdam-ahmed-aboutaleb_new_30858168426_o   president-of-the-congress-gudrun-mosler-trnstrm-austria-soc_30858167506_osummit-of-mayors-rotterdam_161109_068_30805943101_oThe event was opened by Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam, Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, President of the Congress, and Roger Vicot, President of the French Forum for Urban Security and Mayor of Lomme.

The first session focused on the presentation of different local prevention initiatives undertaken by 10 European cities: Malaga, Barcelona (SP), Vilvoorde, Schaerbeek (BE), Bordeaux, Saint-Denis (FR), Malmö (SE), Aarhus (DK) and Pristina (XK). Mayors, deputy mayors and local representatives of these cities presented the challenges they face. Special attention was paid to the need to combat radicalisation while strengthening social cohesion, and to improve European  cities’ resilience to radicalisation and violent extremist acts.

Field visits and practical tools

After this session, participants were able to directly learn from Rotterdam’s approach to preventing radicalisation. Six study visits were organised by the city and their local services, each one focused on a distinct local initiative: two City Marine services, a group of mothers on education to resilience, Rotterdam’s Safety House, the Essalam mosque and a community policing structure focused on diversity.

The last session was dedicated to the  various  capacity-building tools that are available for local authorities. Several networks and organisations working in the field of the prevention of radicalisation presented their work and exchanged on how local authorities can contribute to the prevention of this phenomenon while strengthening their capacities.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe presented its toolkit for local authorities on intercultural and interreligious activities, while Strong Cities explained how they promote inter-city cooperation between Europe, Asia and Africa in the field of counter-radicalisation. RAN Local stressed the main priorities defined by the Radicalisation Awareness Network regarding the role of local authorities, especially with regards to returnees from conflict areas and tertiary prevention initiatives. Efus explained the different activities undertaken in the last three years in this field, especially in terms of technical assistance. An Efus member city,  Liege, shared very concrete examples on how Efus contributed, especially within the framework of the LIAISE (Local Institutions Against Violent Extremism) project, to the crafting of its local prevention strategy.

At the end of the summit, participants adopted a declaration reiterating the key role of local authorities as custodians of human rights, democracy and the rule of law at local level. They  also emphasised the importance of pursuing multi-agency strategies by developing a plan of action bringing together all local stakeholders involved in preventing radicalisation, allocating resources and coordinating action with different levels of government.

The Rotterdam Summit follows up on the Conference of Local Authorities on the Prevention of Radicalisation Leading to Violent Extremism, which was held on 18 November 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark. A second Summit of Mayors is planned in 2017, in Barcelona.

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Photos: Congress of Local and Regional Authorities