Marvin Haave of Courtenay recently returned from a large and diverse citizen’s assembly in Montreal.
Organized by CIVICUS, a global citizen’s organization with members from over 80 countries, the conference considered how citizens and citizen groups from around the world can be involved in rebuilding social contracts, changing nations, social innovation, and redefining global governance.
The CIVICUS vision is “a worldwide community of informed, inspired, committed citizens engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity.”
At the CIVICUS World Assembly, more than 600 participants, including 150 youth, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe engaged with questions of how citizens and citizen groups can influence the future of their nations and of the world.
At its opening session the conference was reminded by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, via video, that people movements are proving their power, as exhibited by such examples as the Occupy Movement and the events of Arab Spring.
At its closing session, CIVICUS member Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma affirmed that “insecure people hold things in to themselves, whereas secure people share,” which means to her that we cannot do development without committing ourselves to political involvement.
The conference paused several times each day to remember CIVICUS member citizens in several countries being detained or tortured for human rights activities.
In addition to plenary sessions, the world assembly offered nearly 50 workshops on aspects of its themes. Of particular interest to Mr. Haave was one on “the muzzling of civil society in Canada,” where representatives from several Canadian organizations reported on the growing repression and surveillance of dissent by Canadian governments.
A lawyer for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association reminded the group that the right to dissent is an individual right, a group right, and even a social benefit (because we all do better when challenged).
Another workshop of particular interest was on “new models of consumption and production” which focused on food security and urban agriculture, a subject of urgency for the Comox Valley.
Haave attended the conference on behalf of the Comox Valley Global Awareness Network (CVGAN) and the B.C. Council on International Cooperation. He would be pleased to provide more information about CIVICUS and/or the assembly and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Comox Valley Global Awareness Network