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

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

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

Communicating with impact

With the CIVICUS World Assembly just over a week away, I’ve started to explore the programme and identify those activities that interest me the most. One that stands out is a workshop being hosted by representatives from the Inter Press Services (IPS) and Al Jazeera around advocacy communication in the context of the increasing role played by social media.

While I am fascinated by the impact and role of social media, I often find myself wondering whether there all the attention on new trends like social media takes attention away from the more fundamental questions and challenges for civil society’s communication efforts. This feeling is echoed by Mario Lubetkin in his recent article on the need for civil society to communicate with impact. Continue reading

Meet CIVICUS World Assembly 2011 Bloggers

Bloggers, passionate about CIVICUS’ goal of a just world, spend time sharing thoughts, analysis and opinions on issues around this theme in the CIVICUS World Assembly blog:; in this podcast invites all to the World Assembly in Monytreal next month

CIVICUS World Assembly: Are you ready for Montreal?

In Johannesburg and in Montreal, the CIVICUS World Assembly team has all but forgotten what their families and friends look like, but as the clock ticks down to the global event, its attendance list reads like a who’s who of the civil society “world.”

It’s official. It’s now exactly one month until an expected 900 plus civil society enthusiasts descend on the cobbled streets of Montreal for the CIVICUS World Assembly. Specialised workshop sessions have risen to 48, nearly double the number the event has held before. Accommodation in the Canadian city has been all but booked up under names like Google, Al Jazeera, the World Bank, UNDP, Oxfam and ActionAid among many others. Continue reading

Sri Mulyani Indrawati to attend the CIVICUS World Assembly

The 2011 CIVICUS World Assembly is only 1 month away and the planning is kicking up into high gear!  One exciting new development is that Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director at the World Bank and former Finance Minister in Indonesia, will be speaking at the first plenary called “Civil Society’s Role in Political and Social Transformation: Before and After the Revolution.”

Indrawati recently wrote an editorial entitle “Winning the Transition” which provides some incite into how she will address this topic. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Winning the Transition

Is the Arab Spring turning into a gloomy autumn? With brutal crackdowns in Syria, a bloody civil war in Libya, and Yemen teetering on the brink of chaos, the number of skeptics is growing. Although Egypt and Tunisia’s pro-democracy movements achieved rapid regime change, uncertainties remain in those countries, too. After a brief period of hope, many observers now wonder whether the region is capable of producing viable, and economically vibrant, democracies. Read more.