UNITED NATIONS, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Mayors from around the world, citing lack of international funds for cities, on Thursday called for international cooperation among municipalities and establishment of a trust fund strictly for urban areas.
UN Habitat sponsored the Global Network on Safer Cities at UN headquarters in New York.
Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, chairman of the Steering Committee of the panel and former mayor of Mexico City, told reporters the purpose of the meeting was to "show the world that the cities can and want a global action in order to guarantee safety for people in the cities."
"In the next 20 years we are going to have great cities, megalopolis, all over the world and maybe we are going to have something like 70 percent of the (world's) population living in cities mainly in China and India but also other parts of the globe, " he said.
The mayors want to have "a common guideline and program on safety or how to make safer cities in the next months and years," Ebrard said. "We also agree on a social inclusiveness approach in safety policies."
"We agree to .. establish our common index in order to know which city is the safest and which city is not safe in the short or middle term and also to propose to the international community an international trust fund to support directly local authorities, " he said, adding that this is "because the local authorities are the most important authority to create or guarantee or promote safe conditions for the people."
Ebrard added the mayors "worry" about gender perspectives.
"In all the cities that were present today or yesterday (they said) if some cities tolerate violence against women you are not going to have a safe city for all the citizens. Never," he said.
Mayor Annise Parker, of Houston in the U.S. state of Texas, saying she spoke on behalf of U.S. mayors, told reporters the mayors not only face challenges in making cities safe but "we also face challenges in collaborating in forums such as this."
"It is difficult to define crime across cultures," she said. " It is difficult to prioritize the crimes to target whether it is crimes against persons, or crimes against property or the products of social unrest or poverty. It is difficult to equate enforcement efforts when the authority of mayors differ very widely."
Many municipalities around the world are dominated by their national governments.
In the United States, rather than state or federal authorities, mayors "have the law enforcement role responsibility," Parker said. "Finally it's difficult to identify funding, but mayors by their nature are necessarily resourceful."
She said the mayoral meeting at the United Nations "will create a common metric and language to quantify and compare our efforts; we will share best practices on enforcement but we will also focus our efforts on prevention, recognizing that productive opportunities and supervisions for youth are the best long-term most cost-effective prevention strategy."
"We recognize that effective crime enforcement and prevention can only occur where there is a culture of citizen engagement and trust of law enforcement and we commit to programs that build respect for human rights and for that culture's citizen engagement and respect for law enforcement," the Houston mayor said.
She said it was agreed to "use technology including social media as a force multiplier but also as mechanism for bilateral communication, transparency and public engagement," she said. " Finally, of course, always, funding is a critical component to advance all of these initiatives."
Parks Tau, mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa, told reporters, "We recognize the need to establish regional networks on safer cities and .. work towards safer cities, underpinned by the principles of insuring greater community involvement to address matters of local safety."
It was also necessary to promote "a culture of community policing and a culture amongst the police of .. peoples rights while doing enforcement," he said, addressing the oft-heard charge of police brutality. "It is important to insure we inculcate a culture among the police of accountability of human rights and therefore of police as servants to the people that they serve."
"We believe collectively we will have the responsibility to share experiences, to network amongst our selves, our cities to insure on the basis of best practices we are able to export and import best practices to our respective cities and have a responsibility to not just our citizens but to citizens of cities throughout the world," Tau said.
He said the mayors, sharing experiences, are now committed as a network "to ensure that we operate, once operating locally, that we assume our global responsibility as a collective of world mayors."