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CIVICUS World Assembly delegates unite towards a vision for global justice
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
March 22, 2004

Over 700 citizens from 100 countries worldwide gathered this morning in Gaborone, Botswana for the start of a four-day CIVICUS World Assembly conference around the theme of 'working together for a just world'. The participants included civil society activists, practitioners, researchers, activists, concerned business leaders, representatives from intergovernmental organisations and government representatives, all united by a common concern to work concertedly for greater social, economic, political and civic justice worldwide.

Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of CIVICUS, in an empassioned opening address, highlighted the common concern of the actors in this diverse group of participants: "We are [all] committed to the ideal that every human being on this planet has the right and capacity to shape the form of governance institutions that make the policies that lead to the delivery of services and the maintenance of the rule of law which we hope will one day be based genuinely on social, economic, political and civic justice."

"The main idea in the overall theme for the Assembly are 'acting together' and 'justice', " he added. " At the heart of these ideas is the valuing of human life and working together. The gross violations of human rights that stunned the world community on 11 September 2001 [Ö], the tragic situation in Iraq, and the recent Madrid bombings must force us to think about the value we place on human life and how much that shapes what we do, how we think and how we relate to each other at the global level. The world is consumed by 'terror' and the so-called 'war against terrorism' which itself has become terrifying, violence against women is on the rise, millions of people are displaced by war, and there is the quiet violence of poverty and starvation."

Naidoo went on to introduced the four core conference themes: social, economic, political and civic justice, and the four cross-cutting themes of gender equality, HIV/AIDS, youth-empowerment, capacity-building and marginalised communities. In the next four days, the delegates at the Assembly will be attending a wide range of events and workshops which will focus specifically on these themes.

CIVICUS World Assemblies provide unique opportunities for civil society organisation and other stakeholders from around the globe to share their experiences, consider new strategies and consolidate existing ones in advancing greater space for citizen participation. It is foremost a forum for dialogue and debate, creating an opportunity for civil society organisations which normally do not have access to certain important actors nationally, regionally and internationally to engage in dialogue and debate about the future of the planet generally, and the role of civil society specifically. The Assemblies are also aimed at generating a theme which encompasses the broad interests of civil society.

The host, CIVICUS, is an international alliance aimed at nurturing the foundation, growth and protection of citizen action throughout the world, especially in areas where participatory democracy and citizenís freedom of association are threatened. Through its worldwide membership base, it aims to have a positive impact on civil society organisationsí ability to engage with governments, corporations and international institutions in order to effect broad social, economic and political change.

For further information on CIVICUS, see http://www.civicus.org

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