[WSIS CS-Plenary] [WSIS THETHA] Internal governance: Responding to the challenge of civil society legitimacy, accountability and transparency
kumi at civicus.org
Mon Mar 7 07:47:03 GMT 2005
FROM THE DESK OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Internal governance: Responding to the challenge of civil society legitimacy, accountability and transparency
Release Date: 28 February 2005
By Kumi Naidoo, CIVICUS Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer
I write this amidst energetic preparation for the next meeting of the CIVICUS Board of Directors, which starts on 2 March here in Johannesburg. The CIVICUS Board is elected by a unique process seeking to ensure maximum ownership and direction exerted by CIVICUS members and partners. Any citizen on the planet can nominate candidates for the CIVICUS Board. Last year's election drew close to 100 candidates from 65 countries.
An independent nominations panel made up of two outgoing Board members, who are not eligible for election, and three others drawn from the CIVICUS family, reviewed these candidates and developed a slate of 26 candidates that were then put to the CIVICUS members via a postal ballot. CIVICUS, as a membership-based organisation, has to place a very high importance on the role of the Board as its principle governance structure. While we have made many positive improvements in Board governance over the last three years, we are constantly looking at how to improve the internal governance of CIVICUS.
This is an important issue for all of civil society, particularly at a moment when civil society is under threat from certain quarters which argue that while governments derive their mandate through elections to make and implement policies, civil society organisations (CSOs) are 'self-appointed do-gooders' who have no mandate to represent the voices of marginalised citizens. What this critique ignores is the deepening democratic deficit in most countries around the world, even where elections are held, and even in long-standing democratic countries.
Some features of this democratic deficit include: (1) fewer citizens feeling motivated to vote in elections; (2) the inaccessibility of political office, for example in the United States, where it has become prohibitively expensive to run for national political office, thus ruling out many good candidates; (3) the continuing gender imbalance in parliamentary and government institutions; (4) the skewed media environment in several countries that do not allow equitable access to the media; (5) the lack of internal democracy in political parties; and, (6) the high return rate of incumbent candidates, suggesting that those that hold political office are able to exploit their position to seek re-election.
To read more, see www.civicus.org/new/content/deskofthesecretarygeneral6.htm
Please send your comments and suggestions to e-mail kumi at civicus.org.
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