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A citizens' assembly (also known as citizens' jury or citizens' panel or people's jury or policy jury or citizens' initiative review or consensus conference or citizens' convention) is a body formed from randomly selected citizens to deliberate on important issues.

It is a mechanism of participatory action research (PAR) that draws on the symbolism, and some of the practices, of a trial by jury. The purpose is to recruit a cross-section of the public to study the selected issues. Information is presented to provide a common set of facts, available options are considered and recommendations are forwarded to the appropriate authority. Some states implement only those recommendations approved in a subsequent referendum.

Assemblies aim to increase public trust in the convening government by remedying the "divergence of interests" that arises between elected representatives and the electorate, as well as "a lack in deliberation in legislatures."

The use of assemblies is related to the traditions of deliberative democracy and popular sovereignty in political theory. While these traditions originated in Athenian democracy, they have become newly relevant both to theorists and politicians as part of a deliberative turn in democratic theory. This turn began in the 1980s, shifting from the predominant theoretical framework of participatory democracy toward deliberative democracy, initially in the work of Jane Mansbridge and Joseph M. Bessette. Assemblies have been used in countries such as Canada and the Netherlands to deliberate for example, on the system used to elect politicians.

Ordinarily, assemblies are state initiatives. However, independent assemblies, such as the Le G1000 in Belgium or the We The Citizens project in Ireland have convened. The People's Parliament was a UK forum of randomly selected citizens presented as a television program. Citizen's Assemblies have now been convened on a global level.

Assemblies have been proposed as a potential solution to dealing with divisive and highly politicised issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, Brexit, and decarbonisation.

Climate assembly[edit | edit source]

The term is used here to mean any citizens assembly considering, either exclusively or otherwise, a response to climate change or climate emergency.

See also: List of climate assemblies

Disadvantages and criticism of Citizens' assemblies[edit | edit source]

Whilst Assembly proponents can list a number of advantages W, a number of disadvantages are also identified in Wikipedia's article W. A broad criticism is that whilst an assembly may involve a tiny minority of the public in a deliberative process, it doesn't necessarily allow them, or the wider public, also involvement in the design of the process. For these reasons, and even though their advantages can be recognised, Citizens' assemblies are not regarded here as a Community Action Project.

Resources[edit | edit source]

How to's[edit | edit source]

  • How To Run A Citizens' Assembly: Handbook, demsoc.org/public-square, date not found, added 14:56, 19 November 2021 (UTC)
  • Climate Assemblies, Democracy in action. Includes guides to help start a climate assembly on a local level.

Maps[edit | edit source]

Other resources[edit | edit source]

  • The Extinction Rebellion Guide to Citizens' Assemblies [1]
  • Basic Standards for Organising Citizens’ Assemblies, May 22, 2019 Extinction Rebellion

Video[edit | edit source]

News and comment[edit | edit source]

2021

Citizens Assemblies: fashionable focus groups or the great hopes of democracy? May 11 [1]

The Scottish Citizens Assembly has concluded - and one of its big proposals is a "House of Citizens", as a second chamber for Holyrood, Feb 8 [2]

2020

Cornmarket St, Oxford.jpg

If democracy looks doomed, Extinction Rebellion may have an answer, John Harris, Aug 30 [3] ...Community involvement UK news

Could the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland change how politics is done for good? Mar 20 [4] ...Scotland news

2019

When a neighbourhood assembly becomes a community by @kahui, Dec 16 [5] ...Camden

How do we discover what matters most to people to help them thrive? noelito. Sep 14 [6] ...Camden

See also[edit | edit source]

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External links[edit | edit source]

Citizens' assembly W includes sections on disadvantages as well as advantages.

Participatory democracy W

Deliberative democracy W

References[edit | edit source]

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