a new social contract

the world is peppered with continuing protests and mobilisations; millions of people march at least one step ahead of their governments; but what happens when the euphoria of dissent fades, and see potential for revolution thwarted by backroom opportunism, pushback on protest, and failures to protect those who in the most dangerous of situations have dared raise their heads to speak. Meanwhile, we strive to maintain optimism that Rio+20 could yet be a global game changer even as we are forced to face the fact that recent world summits have concluded far short of necessary actions. In our own houses, we see continuing fragmentation of civil society, failures to grasp the synergies of social media and the potential of new movements, and a competition for shrinking resources that could turn toxic.

One thing should be clear: there is no going back. The existing arrangements that governed relations between citizens, the state and other actors of power, including the market and the institutionalised part of civil society itself, no longer hold. When states and institutions of global governance fail to meet even their basic obligations to their people, it is time to revisit our assumptions. The notion of a social contract, with rules of engagement between citizens, state and other institutions of power that define and limit citizenship, is now up for renegotiation. In many places the relations between citizens and institutions are already being redefined but by the institutions of power, seeking to place fresh limits on citizen action in response to crisis. Its time to redress the balance. It’s time for people to do better than institutions, insist that they lead their own negotiations, and define a new inclusive social contract.

Quoted from CIVICUS e-communique


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