15 June 2017 – In many urban areas across the world, high rates of crime and violence are undermining growth and impeding social development, which disproportionally impacts vulnerable populations. To explore ways and means of promoting good city governance and peaceful and inclusive societies, UNODC, together with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the Habitat III Secretariat and in coordination with the Government of Canada, recently organised an Expert Group Meeting in UN Headquarters in New York.
Experts from UNODC, UN-Habitat, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as city government and law enforcement officials, members of academia and civil society, came together to identify good practices and provide recommendations on how to make cities resilient, safe and inclusive, and to discuss the development of UN system-wide Guidelines on Safer Cities.
At the meeting, experts also discussed the importance of partnerships at all levels and with communities, civil society and the private sector; mechanisms to ensure accountability and transparency; best practices on innovative and gender-responsive measures at the city level; and the role of socio-economic development and inclusive approaches in ensuring holistic, targeted and evidence-based interventions.
Another effort to strengthen good governance and enhance safety in urban areas is the project entitled: ‘Evidence-based policies for improved community safety in Latin American and African cities.’ In collaboration with UN-Habitat, UNODC – through its Country Offices in Colombia and Mexico, and its Justice Section – is currently providing technical assistance to Member States.
The project is supporting local authorities in strengthening data collection, analysis and monitoring capacity to inform evidence-based policies for prevention in urban spaces. It also promotes the institutionalization of local government-led programmes, taking into account recent methodological advances in addressing crime and victimization challenges in urban areas, and on-going efforts and achievements in the project cities.
In May, the project held its kick-off event in Medellin, Colombia, which brought together representatives of the local governments of Querétaro (Mexico), Cartagena (Colombia), Durban (South Africa) and the Secretariat of the African Form for Urban Safety (AFUS), as well as UN experts on urban safety and crime prevention, including from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico (INEGI) – UNODC Centre of Excellence on Statistical Information on Governance, Crime, Victimization and Justice.
The workshop was opened by the Mayor of Medellin, Federico Gutiérrez, who provided insights and lessons learned in tackling the root causes of local violence. Participants discussed how to tailor methodologies to each city, and the required data to monitor and evaluate progress made. The workshop participants also visited the facilities of the Company for Urban Security of Medellin and learned about the city’s effective institutional reforms and initiatives.
UNODC and its partners within and outside the UN system are committed to supporting Member States in their efforts to make societies more inclusive and resilient. The Office seeks to do this by building the knowledge and skills of national and local Governments to address the challenges posed by crime, corruption and exclusion at the city level.