The Global Network on Safer Cities proposes a change in strategies to eradicate violence in cities


On 13-14 March, representatives of the Global Network on Safer Cities (GNSC) gathered in New York City to establish a global agenda for a safer future in the cities of the world.

The meeting concluded on the idea that a “change in mentalities and strategies” was necessary. In this perspective, Joan Clos, UN-Habitat Executive Director, underlined that this new trend was to include the need to “recover street life” in order to create safer spaces. He quoted the examples of Bogota and San Salvador, two cities where specific action plans noticeably reduced the cases of violence. According to the Mayor of Bogota, who also attended the meeting, the key to success is to focus safety policies on “social inclusion, poverty eradication and human rights” in order to fight violence from its source, rather than implement policies “based on repression and violation of human rights”. Following the same idea, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, called on participants to focus on prevention and guarantee that “police forces not only enforce the law but also obey it”.

The Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments, Josep Roig, moderated the second part of the meeting, whose objective was to elaborate an action plan. With the participation of Marcelo Ebrard, former Mayor of Mexico City, and Joan Clos, the Mayors of Houston, Los Angeles, Beirut, Abidjan, Matosinhos, Bogota, San Salvador, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo presented the experiences of their cities in terms of violence control and security and contributed to a joint outcome statement. This document acknowledges the decision of Mayors to work for safer cities and public spaces, focusing on the vulnerable categories of population who are the most at risk and on improving urban planning, management and governance, following thus the general objectives of the GNSC.

The Global Network on Safer Cities

The UN initiative “Safer Cities” was launched in 1996 by UN-Habitat at the request of a group of African Mayors searching ways to eliminate violence in cities via preventive strategies. In 2012, in the framework of the World Urban Forum in Naples, Marcelo Ebrard, Former Mayor of Mexico City, was named Chair of the Steering Committee of the Global Network on Safer Cities. This Committee is a leading body which aims at strengthening international dialogue and is responsible for organizing events such as the New York meeting and for setting up practical agreements, with a higher degree of implementation.

Click here to read the outcome statement.

To here watch the video presenting the outcomes