Cities: from theatres of war to actors for peace

The City Diplomacy Lab organizes and hosts an official Forum of Mayors’ side event to discuss cities’ diplomatic and humanitarian contributions in wars and conflicts.

The very essence of cities makes them agents of peace. As the closest political institution to citizens, they understand better than anyone the excruciating consequences of armed violence on individuals and the fabric of society. As the primary provider of public services, they have a vital role in alleviating such suffering. Finally, since the Cold War, the emerging field of city diplomacy for peace has developed an increasingly vocal international advocacy that opposes the logic of power and domination with collaboration and solidarity.

However, while conflicts increasingly take on the nature of urbicides, threatening the very existence of cities as is currently the case in Ukraine, the pacifist voice of municipalities has rarely been instrumental in avoiding or stopping wars. The reason is mainly due to the fact that local governments have been relegated to the margins of international relations for several centuries. Nevertheless, the potential of cities as drivers of peace, equity, and sustainability has not eluded the United Nations, as illustrated by Secretary-General Guterres’ call for their involvement in a more inclusive multilateralism.

On the occasion of the 2nd Forum of Mayors, the City Diplomacy Lab will give new impetus to the debate on cities’ empowerment within multi-actor governance of international relations. Through the contributions of mayors, diplomats, and experts, this round table will reflect on the present and future contribution and reach of such an approach in ending ongoing conflicts, preventing future ones, bringing relief to attacked populations, and promoting reconstruction and reconciliation.


  • Amb. Bathsheba Nell Crocker, Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the International Organisations in Geneva
  • Amb. Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Permanent Representative of Italy to the International Organisations in Geneva
  • Mr. Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv
  • Mr. Éric Piolle, Mayor of Grenoble
  • Ms. Begoña Villacís, Vice Mayor of Madrid
  • Prof. Eugenio Di Sciascio, Vice Mayor of Bari
  • Ms. Susanne Klink, Snr. Livelihood and Economic Inclusion Officer, UNHCR
  • Dr. Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi, Director, City Diplomacy Lab at Columbia Global Centers | Paris

Watch the recording