CIVICUS World Assembly
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is an international alliance of members and partners which constitutes an influential network of organisations at the local, national, regional and international levels and spans the spectrum of civil society <a>more</a>
Speakers: Joao Scarpelini, Youth and Community Empowerment Consultant, and Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director CIVICUS.
The short answer according to today’s Youth Conference dialogue “Lessons from the Revolutions: Can young people radically transform their societies?” which you can watch here is: Yes. However, before delving into the lessons, a few challenges should be borne in mind so as to make sure we are being realistic in our endeavor:
1. Repression and closing down on citizen participation happens worldwide.
2. People are apathetic and uninterested in global issues, so how can we have global justice? A serious question to ask ourselves is how can we build global governance.
3. Superpowers play a major role in controlling which revolutions are crushed and which are not.
4. Selective media coverage could result in a legitimate fight for freedom and justice being labeled as an act of terrorism.
5. The majority of people in Africa don’t have the means to apply any of the lessons learned today.
Egyptian Revolution Got Real by Eng Sam
According to the speakers and delegates, these are the lessons learned from the ‘Arab Spring’:
1. Being connected to the government is what brings results.
2. Masses are needed to effect change. The people united will never be defeated!
3. Solidarity between movements and across countries– even if you don’t agree with each other–is essential when it comes to objecting the government’s crushing of freedom of expression.
4. Boycotting: Holding politicians accountable through cultural and economic boycott of regimes which violate human rights.
5. Media: let them hear you loud and clear.
6. Bring youth who started the revolution to the table to make decisions.
7. Powerful stories trigger powerful reactions. (ex. Bouzizi setting himself on fire in Tunisia).
8. Technology made organizing and mobilizing much easier and efficient, and allowed us to tell powerful stories more effectively.
9. Don’t give all credt to social media: some countries don’t have it and masses play a major role.
10. Multiplicity: It’s OK to fight for multiple specific causes instead of the banal ‘Us’ vs. ‘The System’.
11. Reinforce the role of micro-revolutions: These are more pragmatic and easier to organize, and once added up will result in a real movement.
12. Interconnectivity: Broadcast things in your language but also in English so that the world knows your struggle and demands.
13. Innovation: Be creative in organizing and challenging the law without putting yourself at risk.
14. Beware of big powers trigerring revolutions because of their own economic and political interests.
15. Have courage: Can we go as far as Bouzizi to get our freedom?
16. Democracy cannot be imposed, as is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan. Citizens decide how and when to get democracy.
17. Beware of media bias and selectivity: It took Youtube to show how Muslim women have always been involved in Arab societies.
18. Believe in the power of peaceful protesting and civil disobedience.
19. Be hopeful! There’s evidence now that it is something worth working for!
Category : Civil Society and Democratic Space, Connecting People Through Technology, Economic Justice
Tags: activism, Arab Spring, challenges, effectiveness, empowerment, human rights, media, Revolution, solidarity, technology, youth
What did last year’s CIVICUS World Aseembly delegates have to say about pressing world issues such as poverty, economic justice, development aid, and climate justice? Listen to their thoughts and opinions in the following videos! Who knows, you might be interviewed this year and get to be viewed by the world!
Vox Pop 1: How much money do you have in your pocket and what can you do with this amount in your country?
Vox Pop 2: What would happen if there was no development aid and how can development aid be more effective?
Vox Pop 3: What is the first step you are going to take when you go back home to achieve greater justice? What is our role in achieving climate justice?
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Category : Climate Justice, Development Effectiveness, Economic Justice
Tags: #CivWA, Climate Justice, development, Economic Justice, poverty
I must tell you that I think Europe is great. Not that I doubt other places are great too, or that I would challenge anyone saying there are better continents. It is probably a matter of being born here and living in the vernacular since. It is not a big continent, but quite diversified. There is also this arrangement called European Union and, leaving political implications aside, it lets me - the European citizen - travel almost all over the continent without a passport.
I used to think Europe was great also because of other things. Until late eighties, when the Iron Curtain was tumbling down, we, the citizens of its Eastern end, were very hopeful to catch up with the Western part. Of course we wanted stability and prosperity, but first and foremost we wanted freedom. Newspapers and TVs that tell the truth. The right to protest and vote according to our conscience and not be punished for it. We worked hard to get there and I must say we caught up really quick. I bet back then we all thought Europe was the coolest place to be.
Recently things got a bit complicated, just as elsewhere in the world. It turns out that the crisis, the banking and the secret part of governance (or lack of thereof, as some say) broke the continent apart. So now, we have those who feel cheated – because they put a lot into the EU and now hear they need to pay even more – and those who feel frustrated – because their countries are going bankrupt, their governments are idle and their prosperity melts down to nothing.
Would this make me think Europe is not a great place anymore? No, because these things happen every now and then throughout history and the only regret is that we do not get any smarter. What makes me sad is that when it gets tough, our solidarity is shaking. The media of the Northern Europe refer to countries in trouble as PIGS (standing for Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain). That makes me sad and ashamed.
Greek riot police clash with protesters during May Day protests on May 1, 2010 in Athens, Greece.
Tough times are always a good excuse to sell solutions tougher than needed, because people want decisions and action and forget to ask important questions. The question is then what will the civil society do? Will we follow political frustrations of our leaders and turn away from fellow Europeans in need? Or will we step up and look for means to make sure civil society and civil liberties are not infringed by measures softening the impact of the crisis? Are we ready to block extremisms rising on the wave of frustration and feeding on the search for someone to blame?
I am very much looking forward to the regional meeting at the CIVICUS GA. I hope we can see how much solidarity is there to navigate through the tough times. Because Europe is only as great as we can make it be.
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Category : Civil Society and Democratic Space, Economic Justice
Tags: #CivWA, crisis, democracy, Europe, freedom
Los 8 objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM) no se han realizado en el 75% que esperaríamos desde una simple lógica matemática, después de que han transcurrido los primeros 10 años del plazo que finaliza en 2015.
Seguramente, en la Asamblea Mundial de Civicus vamos a analizar la propuesta de una prórroga del plazo (mas allá del 2015) y obviamente un redimensionamiento de las metodologías y procesos para que esta coordinación global contra la pobreza, la opresión, la desigualdad y la discriminación pueda avanzar hacia derroteros más realistas y alcanzables. Seguramente haremos planteamientos renovadores a los organismos internacionales como la ONU, el FMI y el Banco Mundial para que revisen y replanteen su accionar. Seguramente, la ONU dirá que su accionar depende de los representantes de los 193 Estados (sumando a Sudán del Sur) que la componen y éstos, a su vez, atribuirán las principales causas del insuficiente avance de los ODMs a fallas desde los cuerpos constitutivos de la ONU, creándose un campo Kafkiano donde a nadie en concreto se puede atribuir una responsabilidad.
Seguramente nos cubrirá la sombra omnipresente y ubicua del absurdo y la nada…
Y seguiremos esperando…
Seguramente, los representantes de los ‘países desarrollados’ plantearán que en los ‘países en desarrollo’ persisten lastres como la corrupción, los conflictos armados civiles, criminalidad larvada,
‘Estados fallidos’, falta de gobernanza, entre otros, que tratarán de poner en una matriz causa-efecto, que explique la diferencia de 20 a 1 de los ingresos per cápita entre sus ciudadanos, y los de los países no desarrollados.
Pero nuestra discusión continúa en la línea que ya empezamos. Si no se toman decisiones políticas
internacionales y multilaterales para desglobalizar y desmercantilizar las relaciones sociales y económicas, no serán alcanzables, y mucho menos sostenibles los Objetivos del Milenio.
Si el modelo extractivista y de agronegocios continúa tal como lo hemos descrito y si en el caso de Colombia seguiremos anhelando pegarnos de la cola de alguna de las cadenas productivas que ya empiezan a construir las élites dominantes con los agronegocios o la explotación minera, seguiremos desenfocados.
Igual que sucedió con la llamada ‘revolución verde’, implementada desde mediados del siglo XX en la agricultura, que nos dejo un amargo sabor a fracaso cuando no pudo cumplir las promesas para resolver el hambre de grandes poblaciones. Más bien, por el contrario, ha resultado ser una de las causantes principales de la desertización permanente y creciente en grandes regiones del planeta, como el ‘Cuerno africano’ siendo, de alguna manera, el antecedente fracasado de nuestro primer Objetivo del milenio…
Insistimos en el fracaso anunciado de la actual fórmula presentada como solución a la crisis alimentaria mundial con los agronegocios apoyados en los avances en biotecnología e ingeniería genética que están desarrollando poyectos con siembra de palma aceitera, caña de azúcar, maíz y soja como materias primas de biocombustibles. Esta propagandeada fórmula, tal como hemos venido comprobando está causando nuevos ciclos de concentración de la tierra con la violencia que ha caracterizado este proceso en Colombia. Por lo tanto, los sectores sociales, clases, pueblos, organizaciones y plataformas, debemos movilizarnos permanentemente enfocados en modelos de desarrollo que partan de bases realistas y democráticas. Los indígenas latinoamericanos nos enseñan mucho con respecto a la soberanía alimentaria – o ya bien ‘resistencia alimentaria’- desde la cual podemos pensar y realizar el desarrollo agrícola para todos y todas con base en las necesidades alimentarias reales de quienes padecen la pobreza en procesos de desconcentración, desglobalización y descapitalización que son tan necesarios ahora. Desde este principio se deriva el de “respeto por la madre naturaleza” que alumbra sostenibilidad.
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Category : Civil Society and Democratic Space, Development Effectiveness, Economic Justice, Spanish Content
As well as COP17, the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa in late November this year, there is another opportunity for young activists to be involved in shaping their future:
Agents of Change (AoC) is now accepting applications to join the SustainUS youth delegation to The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), which will be held at the in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 4-6 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Rio + 20 is envisaged as a Conference at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government or other representatives. The Conference will result in a focused political document. The objective of the Conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges. The Conference will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.
Apply now to attend the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development!
The deadline is very close but don’t be put off. Applications must be received by 5pm EST August 19, 2011.
Please spread the word, especially to young people from the developing world who may be either studying or working in the U.S for six months, or youth who have U.S. citizenship.
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Category : Climate Justice, Development Effectiveness, Economic Justice
Some excellent news amidst all the gloom lately. Introducing the Activista Blogger Swarm:
Today we announce the names of 10 Global Voices bloggers and 11 activists who will be working together virtually over the next months as part of a new mentoring initiative developed by Global Voices and Activista, the youth network of international development organization, ActionAid.
Activista has selected activists from 10 countries on five continents to form part of a “Blogger Swarm”which will be blogging on the Activista website over the next 12 months. Their goal is to get youth around the world involved in discussions about development, and especially food and climate justice
Global Voices Bloggers to Mentor Youth Activists from 10 Countries
It is my pleasure and privilege to be mentoring one of the bloggers, Benadette Chandia Kodili, from Uganda. Kodili’s first post on the Swarm is not about climate change or the food crisis but another aspect of food altogether:
For a moment I wished people who are out there advocating for women’s rights were here to witness this magical moment: we were being served by an African man as the women looked on!
It may be a small gesture, but for those who know how women have always been treated in most African traditions, men as the boss and women as servants. This moment was precious.
What makes a man a real man?
Please support the Activistas by reading and joining in their conversations.
Category : Climate Justice, Economic Justice
I was visiting my family when my brother’s lost bicycle required us to contact the building’s superintendent: A respectable man in his mid-sixties who used to be a doctor in Albania, but who cannot practice medicine in Canada because his credentials are not recognized. There is something utterly illogical when it comes to Canadian immigration laws. My parents qualified for immigration based on their diplomas. Both pharmacists, they chose the ‘Skilled Workers’ category, earning ‘points’ that increased their chances since Canada was in need of their profession. Not only did they earn their degrees from internationally accredited universities, but both had decades of experience working in their own pharmacies.
Despite almost half a century of experience, my father cannot practice pharmacy in Canada. He had to undergo a cocktail of evaluation exams–paying hundreds of dollars for each–all the while juggling studying with trying to earn a living in a new country. Even when he passed these exams, an annual quota entailed granting the certification only to the top thirty pharmacists that year. Frustrating much? If getting into the system was so difficult and expensive, then why is Canada advertising itself as ‘The Land of Opportunity?’
My father and the Doctor-Superintendent are not an exception. Our friends–two middle-aged engineers– had to work in a supermarket to earn a living. My father is considered lucky compared to them, since a system of evaluation exists for his profession. They, however, would have to go through five years of university to earn new degrees as their present ones are worthless in Canada. When you visit Montreal for the CIVICUS World Assembly, take a cab and chat with the driver. Chances are you will bump into a Lebanese engineer, an Iranian MD, a Romanian lawyer, or a Greek journalist.
If the Canadian government’s aim in increasing its population through immigration is to have more people sweeping floors and flipping burgers, then thanks, but no thanks. To erase years of higher education and decades of experience under the guise of ‘lack of Canadian experience’ is the epitome of unfairness, and is simply an insult to our intelligence. Newcomers pay taxes just as everyone else, and they have the additional burden of adapting to a new environment with their children and starting a new life from scratch. When almost half of Quebec’s residents don’t have a family doctor due to a shortage, one starts to question whether that would have been the case had qualified immigrant doctors been allowed to practice. What logic explains the lame excuse of not having ‘Canadian experience’, and how on earth did experience earn a nationality?
Questions like this should be addressed to our present government and discussed in the upcoming CIVICUS World Assembly. When we talk about Civil Society, we should bear in mind that many developed countries don’t grant civil rights equally. The New Democratic Party had ‘ Recognizing Immigrant Credentials’ as one of its main items during its campaign and promised to solve it. I guess it will take us four more years to see how they will tackle it, assuming they win the next elections.
Category : Civil Society and Democratic Space, Economic Justice
Tags: immigrant, immigration. canada. credentials, opportunity, recognition
As the famous Arabic saying goes, ‘Nothing scratches your skin better than your own fingernails’. If this skin were to be that of the Arab world, then according to the proverb, no one can tackle the issues that affect it better than Arabs themselves. I personally believe there is much truth to this: Only natives of a region can truly understand its needs, deficiencies, potential, and peculiarities–all the while taking into account its culture and history. These are all vital aspects that should be borne in mind whenever a sustainable development project is to be undertaken—something that certain NGOs have come to realize, hence their mandate of consulting locals and involving them in the decision-making process.
This is why I got really excited when I stumbled upon the newly established Arab Development Initiative, otherwise known as the ADI. My excitement transformed into admiration when I realized that it was a non-profit student driven initiative, meant to rally Arab youth around the pressing need for development and inspire them to take action.
Founded by students at McGill University who share a passion for making the Arab world a better place, the ADI “encourages youth to direct their knowledge, skills, and resources towards addressing and solving developmental problems in the Arab world.”
The aim of the ADI is to encourage talented youth to explore ways in which they can make positive contributions to the development of the Arab world, by acting as an intermediary between them and organizations working in the region. This is why, under the motto of ‘Turning today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities’, this coming October will witness the ADI’s first ever international gathering, the ‘Envision Arabia Summit’.
The conference will not only feature distinguished speakers, but also scientists, entrepreneurs, and even musicians who have greatly contributed to Arab society. They will tackle issues related to science and technology, health, economic development, culture, in addition to law and human rights, in light of the “recent developments in the Arab world [which] have cast the future of the region into uncertainty.” The aim is for them to inspire Arab youth to make a difference, and empower them to start their own sustainable development projects directed towards the Arab world.
The ADI aims to create an environment where innovation is nurtured, ideas can flourish, and new friendships can be made among Arab youth, all under the umbrella of setting a vision for the future they want, and directing their efforts to achieve it.
There is nothing more pleasing than to see youth who are away from their homeland invest their talent and resources into benefiting their native countries. Call it loyalty, nationalism, pride, or a simple sense of responsibility, there is much to be learned from them, which is why events such as the CIVICUS Youth Assembly are important.
July 12, 2011: Watch the brand new ‘ADI: Be Part of the Future’ video here:
Category : Civil Society and Democratic Space, Development Effectiveness, Economic Justice
Tags: ADI, Arab, Arabia, development, McGill University, Middle East, Non-Profit, Students, Talent, youth
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I was caught by the title of one of the dialogues that will take place at the Civicus Youth Assembly this coming September: “Lessons from the Revolutions: Can young people radically transform their societies?” That the year 2011 has so far proven to be nothing less than revolutionary in the Arab world-in both the literal and metaphorical sense-is no secret. Who knew that with the ousting of the Tunisian President Bin Ali, his fleeing feet would push the first piece of the Revolution Domino into the heart of Egypt, resulting in the making of history by a people united as one in their quest for social justice and self-determination. We all shed tears of happiness when Mubarak fell from power, because we knew that this is only the beginning of a future led by the Arab youth.
What kind of future will that be? Although it holds true that none of this would have happened were it not for the Egyptian youth and their well-organized protests-arguably facilitated by Facebook and other forms of social media, today there is much to be asked. The rest of the Bin Ali-pushed domino pieces did indeed reach Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, even Jordan, but notably fell hard on Libya and Syria, and are now stuck in limbo. While the people peacefully demand their rights, they are being stifled by their systems, and the youth are no exception. From police attacks to imprisonment for the sole purpose of expressing their opinions, the optimism of these Arab youth leaves me with a lingering worry: Although they have seen their Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts win their freedom with no bloodshed, they are witnessing something completely contradictory in their own countries. What encourages me despite this misery, is that these youth have gained an unheard of confidence and courage to speak up for their rights, and that they are, despite all obstacles, persevering. And THAT is a radical transformation in society.
The radical change has also affected Arab youth abroad; those who actually do have the privilege of freedom of speech, as well as world-class education and access to numerous media sources and equipment. These are talented young Arab students who have joined forces in a country like Canada, developing close friendships across their Arab national borders. There is a new surge in Arab nationalism sweeping the lives of Arab youth in diaspora, thanks to the courage of those still fighting in their homeland, and this can be seen in the many demonstrations and other forms of solidarity taking place across the globe.
From Damascus through Cairo, passing all the way to Montreal, there is absolutely no doubt that today we are indeed witnessing the birth of Revolutionary Arab Youth. And these are people you would certainly want to meet at the CIVICUS Youth Assembly.
Category : Civil Society and Democratic Space, Connecting People Through Technology, Development Effectiveness, Economic Justice
Tags: Add new tag, Arab, civicus, Egypt, Libya, Revolution, Students, Syria, Tunisia, youth