Event 2008 CIVICUS World Assembly: Acting Together for a Just World – People, Participation and Power
Date 18-21 June
Venue Glasgow, Scotland
Almost 1,200 delegates from more than 100 countries attended the 8th CIVICUS World Assembly this year that took place in Glasgow on 18-21 June. Grassroots activists, women’s groups, faith-based organizations, international NGOs, public and private donors, intergovernmental organizations – all gathered together to discuss the role of civil society worldwide in creating a more just world.
This year’s theme was People, Participation and Power. A mix of plenary and workshop-style sessions addressed the issue of civil society influencing, accessing and contributing to all levels of governance, from local government to high-level international forums. The common theme of the discussion, both inside and outside sessions, was that of participation and voice as a means for exercising accountability at all levels in the international governance and aid system.
Highlights of the assembly included the participation of UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander, who commented on the limitations intergovernmental organizations pose to people’s participation in governance. Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization, was also there. Although it is an encouraging development to see representatives of such powerful institutions participating in a global civil society gathering, I feel that in this case, it did not work particularly well. Pascal Lamy, for example, limited himself to explaining basic notions of international law and using principles such as the sovereignty of states to avoid engaging in any meaningful debate about reimagining the current international trade system.