The SI Committee on Local Authorities met in the city of Mons, the capital of the Belgian province of Hainaut, on 16-17 July, chaired by Elio Di Rupo, leader of the host Socialist Party, PS, and mayor of Mons, who was elected Chair of the Committee at the last SI Council.
Close to 40 mayors, guests and representatives of member parties of the International from different regions in the world took part in the meeting which had on its agenda an 'Introduction and overview of existing city networks' and a 'Presentation of thematic city networks' on particular topics ranging from the environment, and cooperation for peace in the Middle East, to the network of towns in Latin America and the 'Free Ingrid Betancourt' network. In the framework of the first theme, the Committee heard contributions from the Organisation of United Cities and Local Governments, the Union of Socialist Local and Regional Representatives of Europe and the Socialist Group of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union.
Defining the programme of work and future activities of the Committee also figured at the centre of discussions. It was decided that the Committee would work to create warning and cooperation networks among towns led by socialist, social democratic and labour mayors, in order to mobilise on specific issues: resolving conflicts - particularly in the Middle East, through concrete triangular cooperation between European, Israeli and Palestinian cities - cooperating on environmental issues, and, within the framework of solidarity between countries of the North and the South, fighting against Aids. Finally, the Committee will set up dialogue between delegations of SI party members participating in the work of different global and regional organisations of local authorities and meetings will be held in conjunction with their gatherings.
It was decided that the IV SI World Conference of Mayors would be held towards the end of 2005 and that the Committee would convene at the end of January in Porto Alegre, in connection with the meeting of the World Social Forum which will take place in the same city from 26 to 31 January 2005.
On the occasion of its first meeting since the holding of the last Congress, the Committee named Miguel Lifschitz, Mayor of Rosario (PS, Argentina) as one of its two vice-presidents.