Asambleas Ciudadanos


 

the Mediterranean Citizens' Assembly

 

 

First meeting of the Initiative Committee of the Mediterranean Citizens’ Assemblies – October 6, 2008

Translations : français . English . Español



On October 6, 2008 a small team of associates met in Valencia, Spain, so as to move forward on the concept of Mediterranean Citizens’ Assemblies.


Mina Rhouch (Morocco), Yolanda Ziaka (Greece), Davina Ferreira (France-Spain), Françoise Macé (France), Jelloul Ben Hamida (France), Sandro Guiglia (Italy), Ziad Majed (Lebanon) and Sergi Escribano (Spain) took part in this meeting (see participants’ details below). The main issue on the agenda was the exploration of the different modes for launching a new dialog space between Mediterranean societies, irrespective of the social forums and the dialog platforms between Mediterranean civil societies - EUROMED. This new space has been called “Mediterranean Citizens’ Assemblies”.


This first exchange permitted to start dealing with essential and ineludible issues :


  • Why establish a citizens’ assembly when there are a Mediterranean Social Forum and other dialog initiatives, such as the Euromed platform ? The Social Forums are often conceived as mirroring the organizations which take part in them. These organizations naturally impregnate the Forum’s format and process with their own logics and functioning. This framework is not wholly adapted to the idea of creating a true space for dialog between societies – a dialog which will naturally demand to go beyond these specific logics and to have a wider diversity of actors. This does not mean discarding the forums either. On the contrary. These, in fact, complement the issues put forward by citizens’ assemblies. But, above all, we need to be realistic and pragmatic about the conditions to be met in order to try to meet the objectives of a citizens’ assembly.

  • What part of the Mediterranean and what kind of citizenship are we talking about ? Wouldn’t it rather be “Mediterraneans”, in the plural? This might be precisely so, because there is a diversity of Mediterranean realities. According to the work topics dealt with, it will be necessary to include countries which are not necessarily on the sea. It is this kind of diversity that makes up the region. It will be necessary to allow this Assembly to express itself, maintaining at the same time some flexibility as well as an opening in order for other countries to help understand better how this Mediterranean group works. The idea of this region being part of the world is already part of the issue. One of the issues would be renewing the Mediterranean governance and their participation in global governance. The view of citizenship that makes sense for everyone is that of a citizenship based on responsibility and equilibrium between rights and responsibilities.

  • Which are the orientations and strategies to adopt ? It is clear that the assembly won’t be a huge, collective and centralized church mass, but rather a variety of small inter-connected assemblies orbiting around the Mediterranean. The assembly stage constitutes above all a process stage. It a medium and not an end in itself. “We should continue to be a movement of ideas. We should not become institutionalized. We will privilege transversality throughout the process. We will need to focus on the construction of networks, on showing the people who work on site that they have allies, on valuing positive experiences (...); one of our aims is to influence public policies. It will also be necessary to combine academic and popular experience. We won’t try to organize thematic meetings (...), we need to manage to combine relationships with organizations, but also with those citizens who do not identify with any of these organizations” – this is an extract from the meeting minutes.

This first Initiative Committee will be enlarged later on to a maximum of fifteen people from different geographical areas of the Mediterranean. On the other hand, a sponsorship committee which will gather renowned personalities from the region and contribute to widen the initiative’s credibility. This committee should gather artists, philosophers, historians, and so on.


Which are the next stages in the agenda ?

  • The second meeting of the Initiative Committee will take place on February 20-22, 2009 in Rome.
  • Each of the participants in this committee will begin to define contacts and mention the initiative in other meetings: EUROMED Civil Forum- October 30, 2008; Amazigh World Conference- October 30…
  • This “Mediterranean Citizens’ Assembly” project’s foundation document should be taken up again and finished by February 2009, and it should include the conclusions from this first meeting and from the second committee.

Participants to the First Committee (October 2008)


  • Ziad Majed (Lebanon - Political scientist, Coordinator of an Arabic researchers’ network working on women, political parties and mass media)
  • Yolanda Ziaka (Greece - Economist, PhD in Education for the environment, Coordinator of the Charter of Human Responsibilities for Southern Europe.
  • Mina Rhouch (Morocco – Medical Doctor, President of the International Medical Center for Migrants and Foreigners Foundation and member of the Moroccan Community Abroad Board).
  • Jelloul Ben Hamida (Tunisia – Member of the International committee of the World Social Forum on Migrations and launcher of the World Charter of Migrants).
  • Francoise Macé (France – Head of the Mediterranean program of the Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation - FPH).
  • Sandro Guiglia (Italy - member of the Medlink Italian network).
  • Sergio Escribano (Spain – Technical Director of the Rural Studies and International Agricultural Center - CERAI).
  • Davina Ferreira (France – Coordinator of the Mediterranean agreement for the CERAI).



 

 

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