MONTREAL, Aug. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Over 500 representatives of civil
society, donors, governments, business, academics media and youth from
about 100 countries at the 9th CIVICUS World Assembly in
Montreal, sent out a call for closer collaboration and greater resolve
in addressing the global crises confronting humanity.
Over three days of broad-ranging discussions under the theme: 'SOS:
Seeking Out Solutions', the participants found common ground on issues
of economic justice, development effectiveness and climate change. Clear
themes that emerged included the growing threats to civil society
freedoms around the world, and the opportunity for structural change
based on values of justice, equity and human rights.
At the end of the event, which many described as the first opportunity
for civil society to jointly address the interlinked crises, Ingrid
Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS said that "This World Assembly
succeeded in providing a space for civil society to collaborate, network
and build solidarity at a time when we most urgently need to do so if we
are to achieve the transformational changes society is seeking."
The event included a series of plenaries and workshops that brought
together viewpoints from a unique spectrum of organisations, big and
small, south and north, government and non-government. In a plenary
session, a range of panelists including the World Bank's Vice
President, Otaviano Canuto, discussed the challenge of seeking out
solutions to the economic injustices facing the poor and marginalised.
Each day also saw Open Forum sessions where participants chose the
themes on which they wanted to focus on to arrive at shared agendas and
According to Beverly J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation at
the Canadian International Development Agency, "The CIVICUS World
Assembly was a useful reminder that development does not happen by
itself. It happens as a result of the actions of thousands of committed
people and communities - in the developing and developed world."
During the closing ceremony Salil Shetty, Secretary General of
Amnesty International, said that there was an urgency in dealing
with the global crises which must be acted upon and that it was
imperative that civil society be more involved in getting governments to
act on their promises. "The significant numbers of human rights abuses
stand to be concentrated in the developing world."
During the event -- organized jointly by CIVICUS: World Alliance for
Citizen Participation and the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM) --
participants deliberated over the narrowing space civil society is
forced to operate in and the momentum to define a new and fairer
paradigm for human existence, including a pivotal plenary session about
the need to take a stand in support of freedom of expression.
The ideas generated at the event will feed into other international
forums in the coming months, including the United Nations Millennium
Development Goal (MDG) summit in New York in September, set up to review
the progress of the MDGs.
At the opening session, Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights, applauded CIVICUS and its Every Human Has Rights
(EHHR) program for "(being) the voice for the many whose voices would
never be heard" in campaigning for a human rights-based approach to the
Millennium Development Goals. "A human rights based approach to the MDGs
is absolutely necessary for success …as it gets to heart of the reason
for (countries) poor performance," she said. "The current draft does not
adequately concern human rights." The EHHR campaign unveiled its plans
for a Walk Barefoot around the Block event which is planned for Human
Rights Day in December this year.
Michel Venne, Director General of INM feels, "Civil society has
to play an important role if we are to solve global crises. Canadian
civil society must also be able to integrate with global issues and to
learn from and contribute to international initiatives."
BBC World Have Your Say conducted two live radio programs, one each for
the Youth and World Assemblies. During the World Assembly interaction,
the debate was around the proposed development of a mosque at Ground
Zero in New York.
"We don't have a plan B because we don't have a planet B," said Kumi
Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace, adding, "every individual
and every stakeholder must engage on the issues affecting our planet."
There were also a set of Learning Exchanges during the assembly that
allowed participants to explore Canada's contribution to developing
civil society. One of these was an interaction on the innovative
Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities which sets a common
ground for addressing issues between citizens and the City.
The CIVICUS Youth World Assembly was held at the Concordia University in
Montreal during 18 - 20 August and brought together 100 young. Samar Samir
Mezghanni, the Youth Assembly Chair, passionately urged civil
society "to show a new approach to tackling global crises and emphasised
the need to involve youth in civil society's initiatives."
Following the success of this year's event, it is confirmed that for the
next two years the venue of the CIVICUS World Assembly will remain in
SOURCE Institut du Nouveau Monde
For further information: For further information:
Devendra Tak, Media and Communications Manager at CIVICUS, email@example.com
Tel:+ 27- 11- 8335959 (office), +27 - 832688004 (mobile)
Roch Bilodeau at INM on +1 866 618-7537 and firstname.lastname@example.org