Participative democracy: The People's Tribunal

Jessica Reed
12 September 2007

openDemocracy has published a lot of material on deliberative democracy - including on this blog, which last year extensively covered the European Citizen Consultations.

But what about a participative people's tribunal? A few weeks ago I was forwarded details about the People's Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India - a participative initiative aiming to provide a just forum for people who have suffered because of projects and policies funded or promoted by the World Bank Group; the Tribunal is an opportunity to express their grievances and propose alternatives (more...).

This is what Smirti, who is working for the Tribunal's secretariat, had to say via e-mail:

"For several years, local groups and grassroots organisations have been opposed to the intervention of multilateral agencies in India's economy and development. At various stages, there has been strong project-based opposition to the World Bank in different parts of the country. Consequently, in the last few years the Bank has modified its lending patterns, concentrating more on policy-based lending, as against project-based lending.

The retrogressive impact of the Bank's intervention is being felt throughout the country by almost all marginal and impoverished sections of society. Given the scale of damage, many groups have come together to organise a People's Tribunal on the Impact of the World Bank Group in India."

Several consultations have been organised throughout the country, eventually leading to the Tribunal's session, which is to be held on the 23rd and 24th of September at Jawaharlal University in New Dehli. It will investigate the effects of the Bank's policies and look at the Bank's impact on the sovereignty of the nation, the link with senior bureaucrats and government officials (the revolving door) and fiscal indebtedness.

As those participative processes multiply across the globe it should be interesting to read about the project's outcome. The Tribunal's orginality lies in the fact that it doesn't focus on a local budget decided by participants (like in Porto Alegre), or on a wish-list created to inspire members states of the EU (like the ECC), but on an already-existing structure with an impact on the everyday life of millions of citizens.

More on their blog: World Bank Out.


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