Event date

the-hague                      global                              unhabitat

1. Context

More than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by state fragility and violent conflict. Urbanization is rapidly transforming these countries: while only 33% of the population in such states lived in cities in 2000, that figure will soar to 56% by 2050, and fragile states like Afghanistan, Liberia, and Timor-Leste rank among the world’s fastest-urbanizers. The largely informal character of urban growth means that many urban citizens in fragile states are excluded from public service delivery and formal labour markets, left unprotected by state security and justice provision, and unable to mobilize for change through weak governance systems. This marginalization and injustice ultimately erodes the very legitimacy of the state.

Yet urbanization also offers unparalleled opportunities to reduce fragility and conflict. Evidence suggests that efforts to foster constructive state-society relations, safe and just communities, inclusive markets, basic service provision, and sustainable revenue generation are most effective at local level in urban settings, and can exert a positive influence on national development outcomes. As more and more people live in cities in fragile states, prospects for improving the lives of the poorest in these countries will depend on the promotion of equitable, sustainable urbanization, led by local governments within a multi-level governance framework.

2. Aim and format

Co-hosted by The Hague Institute for Global Justice, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and UN-Habitat, the panel discussion is an opportunity for senior policymakers and thought leaders to engage with the challenges of rapid urbanization in fragile states, but also the peacebuilding and statebuilding challenges and opportunities afforded to local governments in cities. It will aim to foreground an emerging area of focus for research and policy on development in fragile states, and highlight implications for Dutch foreign policy.

 Specific objectives of the panel discussion will include:

  • demonstrate the vital role of local governments in tackling violence and conflict, expanding service delivery, and (re-)establishing constructive state-society relations from the ground-up in cities
  • raise the visibility of urbanization as a key issue in the policy debate on peacebuilding and statebuilding
  • discover insights from implementation of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States relevant for local governments, and the potential for positive change in cities to enhance national development outcomes in line with New Deal goals
  • identify the most effective aid modalities and mechanisms for Dutch foreign policy to support peacebuilding and statebuilding in cities

 Seated in the round, distinguished guests will respond to a set of framing questions, contribute to a lively and informal debate, and take questions from an on-site audience at The Hague Institute for Global Justice. Members of the public will also be able to interact with the panel discussion via webcast and social media, and possibly through topic-specific breakout groups in the course of the event.

3. Participants


  • Mr Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor of The Hague (to be confirmed)

 Panel of Experts

  • Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyria, Deputy ED, UN-Habitat
  • Ms Mimoza Kusari-Lila, Mayor of Gjakova, Kosovo
  • Mr Muhammad Yunus Nawandish, Mayor of Kabul, Afghanistan (to be confirmed)
  • Mr Peter van Tuijl, Executive Director, GPPAC
  • Dr David Connolly, Head of the Conflict Prevention Programme, The Hague Institute
  • Mr Allan Leonard, Forum for Cities in Transition

  • Mr Arthur Wiggers, Deputy Director, VNG International

 A senior representative of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs will join as a respondent.

The panel discussion will enable senior policymakers and thought leaders to engage with the challenges of rapid urbanization in fragile states, but also the peacebuilding and statebuilding opportunities afforded to local governments in cities.

To register, info at  info@kpsrl.org

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