The Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in the UK and Ireland, funded by Carnegie UK Trust, has now published its final report ‘Making good society’. The Commission identifies four critical areas in which civil society activity is necessary to make good society:
- Growing a more civil economy;
- A rapid and just transition to a low carbon economy;
- Democratising media and content;
- Growing participatory and deliberative democracy.
In chapter four of the report, the one relating to participatory and deliberative democracy, the Commission recommends the following:
- Strengthening very local democracy with clear rights to set up neighbourhood councils with powers to raise finance and act.
- Refashioning parliaments to allow for more dialogue and engagement, including rights of petition and rights for petititioners to take part in debates.
- Reinforcing rights to dissent and reviewing the impact of serious crime and anti-terror legislation on civil society to reduce the risk of unintended harm to civil society domestically and globally.
- Investing in deliberation skills. Individuals, civil society associations and public bodies need to help strengthen the skills of active listening, rational argument and effective deliberation.
- Developing leaders from all backgrounds. More needs to be done to support those organisations that are effective at identifying and supporting emerging leaders who reflect the communities they serve.
- Bridging difference. A related priority for funders is to support individuals or initiatives that are skilled at overcoming conflicts or mutual distrust.
- Harnessing the potential of the Internet by using SMS, twitter and social networking sites as tools for mobilisation, education and direct action.