Friday, August 27, 2010

Me. A cynic?

Maybe I am when it comes to small scale demonstrations at conferences. So often I have walked past the group of people and thought, whatever they are hoping to achieve, this is surely not the way to go about it. Well my experiences from this week have shown that small peaceful demonstrations, can be a very effective form of advocacy. For example, the media interest created by the abortion demo on Tuesday generated a lot of column inches and discussion about the issue in the local and national press.

A further example was at a small demonstration we carried out this morning (actually, it's still going on). Due to the lack of a transparent and democratic process and hearing that the Government Forum had been instructed to disregard the NGO recommendations, we stood quietly outside the entrance to the Governments Forum with messages urging governments to think again. The messages are below:

Before the demonstration, I honestly thought, what can this do? What difference can it make? Surely security will not let this happen. Well, I had to eat my words a couple of hours later. Many of the government delegates read the messages on the way in to the meeting, security left us alone and other delegates who had already entered the meeting came out to read the messages. It turns out that many governments were just as fed up about a lack of transparency and democracy in the process and the demonstration showed that they were not the only ones thinking this. Therefore, when the meeting started, the European, African and North and South American delegates all refused to continue the meeting without the opportunity to read the NGO declaration and discuss and democratically vote on the language in the Government Declaration. They also asked us to stay where we were and keep protesting!

Therefore, people are still there, the TV crews turned up and the closing ceremony for the Government Forum has been shifted from 11:30am to 5pm to give time for the discussions to take place.
What's going to happen? I have no idea and will not know the outcome for the next few days as I have to get on a plane in a couple of hours. I will write more about it as soon as I know.
Quote of the day: (In a session on youth participation from one of the youth NGO Delegates) "I was an observer in the Governments Forum yesterday and one of the Government representatives asked me about the process that had been used to decide the NGO declaration. I told him and he was surprised and said "wow, your process was much more transparent and democratic than ours is, we should learn something from you!"

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