The consequences of any violent conflict often manifest themselves on a local scale, which is why a local level approach is vital. Local Governments have an important role to play in situations of conflict as promoters and facilitators of peace, freedom, democracy and prosperity and by doing so they contribute to the international development and peace-building agenda. Therefore, local governments are instrumental in preventing conflicts, building bridges and dialogue after conflict and promoting a peaceful environment.
At the World Conference on City Diplomacy, organized by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) in 2008, the Hague Agenda on City Diplomacy was adopted. This agenda aims to highlight the role of local governments in promoting peace, dialogue and reconstruction throughout the world. The Hague Agenda on City Diplomacy proposed to launch a peace prize for local governments, to be awarded to local governments who either work to prevent or overcome conflicts in their own community, or who have helped other local governments in conflict areas in their striving for peace or justice. This has taken shape in the UCLG Peace Prize. This award celebrates successful initiatives for conflict prevention, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction undertaken by local governments and stimulates others to follow suit. It is supported by the Provincial Council of Barcelona, the City of Tromsø, the Province of Gipuzkoa, VFonds, PAX and VNG International, within the framework of the UCLG Policy Council on Opportunities for All, Culture, and City Diplomacy.
The UCLG Peace Prize generates international public attention for the role local governments play in ensuring sustainable and peaceful development. Local governments that have implemented an innovative and high impact approach towards peace-building and the creation of dialogue are eligible for nomination. In addition to worldwide exposure and recognition, the winning local government receives a financial award to strengthen its peace projects and/or to facilitate learning exchanges with other local governments facing similar challenges.
The third, and most recent edition of the UCLG Peace Prize (2022) has been awarded to the Municipality of Palmira (Colombia). The Mayor’s office of Palmira successfully implemented a comprehensive approach to violence prevention, PAZOS is a project underlined by its pre-emptive intervention strategy as opposed to the iron-fist policing method of the past. PAZOS focuses on 5 key areas; Interruption, Intervention, Prevention, Creation of Safe Environments and finally Access to Justice.
The second edition of the UCLG Peace Prize (2019) was awarded to the Municipality of Arsal (Lebanon) for its great efforts in creating co-existence, peace-building as well as preventing conflict. The Mayor of Arsal does this through facilitating dialogue and sulha sessions which is based on mediation and bringing people together. Moreover, the Municipality of Arsal reacts 24/7 to outbursts of conflict and preventing the further escalation of violence through direct conflict mediation and using their meager budget for reparation against wrongdoing.
The first edition of the Peace Prize (2016) was awarded to the Municipality of Kauswagan (Philippines), based on its innovative and effective initiative in the process of peace-building, moving beyond addressing symptoms of armed conflict towards a socio-economic approach that bridges peace and development efforts.