Trying to use a water pistol to stop a charging rhino

This week saw some of the world’s largest and most powerful institutions host their annual meetings. At the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund global leaders conferred with each other and with experts and representatives from academia, business, media and civil society on the critical economic, social, political and ecological issues that loom ever larger. Continue reading

Defining civil society

Civil society is a term whose definition sometimes seems elusive. Its role is almost always fiercely contested. The phrase is now bandied about by politicians, pundits and practitioners alike, especially in the context of the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa and the popular uprisings around the world. Continue reading

When the road to democracy gets hijacked

By Rowena McNaughton

 It was a Friday, 29 July. An endless throng of battered motor bikes and bicycles were clogging the sometimes bitumen, often dust, roads of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Fruit sellers had started to dismantle primitive wooden stalls in preparation to close for the day. Monks were walking towards watts for afternoon prayer. But as the majority of Cambodia’s inhabitants were engrossed in the tasks of daily life, its government, without fanfare, took another step forward to install  the country’s most dictatorial, and most appalling, association law, seen in the nation’s post Pol Pot era. Continue reading

Lessons from the 2011 CIVICUS World Assembly

The 2011 CIVICUS World Assembly has come to a close! During this year’s event we saw a convergence of themes – from climate justice to development effectiveness to democratic space – with different movements from around the world coming together towards a common dialogue of sustainable, inclusive development based on human rights. The energy and motivation to find sustainable solutions for a more just world was palpable. 

Since the event, many delegates from plenary speakers to youth participants have offered up their reflections and interpretations on the event. For those who joined us in Montreal, I invite you to read these and reflect on how closely they resemble your own experience. For those who unfortunately could not be with us, I invite you to read these pieces and add your voice to the discussion.

A multitude of convergence

While working on the final press release for the CIVICUS World Assembly, which ended on Monday, Ingrid Srinath, CIVICUS’ Secretary General, suggested we change the title to read “Civil society breaks through silos”. My French-speaking colleagues at Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM – the World Assembly co-hosts in Montreal) groaned “not that phrase again!” They were frustrated because it was a term that kept popping up in our communications, but they struggled to find a good translation in French. Yet, it seems impossible to reflect on this year’s World Assembly and not speak of breaking the silos – every angle you consider when looking back on the three days is an example of a silo being broken and disparate ideas, themes, regions, you name it, converging together.  Continue reading

The beginning of the end…?

Beautiful Montreal welcomed us with wonderful weather for the 10th CIVICUS World Assembly that began on 10September with much anticipation from all those attending it. It was preceded of course by the youth assembly which was oneof my highlights of the past 3 days leading up to the main world assembly. I had the privilege of meeting and interacting with some exceptional youngpeople,a group I was happy to include myself among, who are taking an active interest intheir world and who wanttomake a positive difference and contribution to it. And it’s not so much the conversations that took place in the various planned presentations and group discussions that I enjoyed but the hallway and lunch break exchanges. Those unstructuredtalks that merge, morph and evolve dynamically as people come and go and contribute to various aspects of the discussion, which is one of the wonderful things about the world assembly.

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1 day down, 2 days to go

The first day of the CIVICUS World Assembly has come to a close and what a day its been. So much happened that it’s hard to know what to share and as it’s almost time for my beauty rest, not a lot of time to share it in. Therefore, instead I am just going to highlight all the many people who have been posting, tweeting, taking pictures and videos all day. Just check out a few of these and you’ll get a flavour for the day.

Twitter: @iamlfb counted an amazing 113 tweeters and #civWA trended all day in Montreal!! Check out that hashtag and see what all of the buzz is about. Continue reading

The 2011 CIVICUS World Assembly is here

As the 10th CIVICUS World Assembly gets under way in Montreal, Canada, CIVICUS released a report on the key civil society trends emerging from the recently concluded Civil Society Index studies. The summary sets the context for deliberations at the World Assembly which will address many of the issues the report raises.

We are delighted that this World Assembly has drawn such diverse participation in such large numbers. All of us at INM and CIVICUS are looking forward to welcoming you in Montreal, to making new friendships, renewing long-standing ones and to the lively, insightful debates that are the hallmark of CIVICUS World Assemblies.

To those of you who cannot make it to Montreal, we hope you will follow happenings there via Facebook, Twitter (@CIVICUSAlliance / #CivWA) or watch it live on livestream


Countdown: 8 Days to the CIVICUS World Assembly

In just over a week the 10th CIVICUS World Assembly gets under way in Montreal, Canada. This year’s Assembly seeks to draw together key themes of current importance to civil society – civil society and democratic space, climate justice, development effectiveness and connecting people through technology – highlighting the gaps in global governance that underpin them and building solidarity and synergies across thematic silos. This timely piece from Simon Zadek provides an insightful take in that direction. Find related writings by Simon here  and here.Flesh out the case for a more coherent approach.

Also, the draft outcome document for the CIVICUS World Assembly is now online. Whether you are coming to Montreal or not, we want to hear from you. Contribute to the document by commenting here.

In solidarity,

Ingrid Srinath