Cohort on Deliberative Democracy and Citizens’ Assemblies

The Cohort on Deliberative Democracy and Citizens’ Assemblies was established to give everyday citizens a more meaningful role in public decisions through citizens’ assemblies, by bringing together a random sample of the community with a wide range of views and giving them access to a diversity of sources as well as ample time to discuss questions and concerns. They aim to inform elected representatives of where informed common ground can be found around difficult trade-offs in a public decision. The cohort was officially launched with a virtual event on 17 January 2023, following active discussion and participation among the cohort participants in 2022. The launch event communicated to 230 deliberators from around the world the experiences in deliberative democracy by the cohort’s co-leads, its high-level declaration and agenda of 12 commitments to support the establishment of deliberative mechanisms at the national and international levels. Check out a March 2023 blog update by one of the Cohort's co-founders here, and reflections on the second Summit written by one of the Cohort's co-founders here. More information on the Cohort in the lead-up to the third Summit, to be held in 2024 in South Korea, can be found on the newDemoracy website here, and the European Commission website here.

Building deliberative democratic mechanisms is important for democracy because it can help to better connect citizens with decision makers, giving their voice a more meaningful role in actions taken. Public distrust in politics and in each other is high, and only continuing to climb, with polarisation and extremism worsening the picture. Deliberative democracy can help to create opportunities for meaningful and substantive engagement, and such initiatives are being seen across the OECD nations, especially through the use of Citizens’ Assemblies. Citizens’ Assemblies bring together a diverse group of people that is broadly representative of society, and give them the time and resources to listen to and learn from experts and each other, to find common ground on complex issues and reach collective decisions.

The expected outcomes from this cohort is the release of a high-level declaration and an agenda of 12 commitments ahead of the second Summit, including 3 international initiatives that are to endure past the second Summit. These efforts will help to motivate countries to form Citizens’ Assemblies and other deliberative tools and mechanisms.

Work on the Cohort started with the open letters submitted to President Biden and Under Secretary Zeya in January 2022, as the importance of deliberative democracy was originally lacking from the S4D process and cohorts. The two letters stressed the importance of structured and inclusive citizen engagement in revitalising democracy and were positively received by Summit organisers, who gave the green light to establish the Deliberative Democracy Cohort. The Cohort met regularly and made much progress over the course of 2022. It established three working groups to organise under the topics of the Cohort’s three international initiatives:

  1. A Global Citizens’ Deliberation for participating countries to support that would give citizens a more significant voice at the S4D and future summits. The deliberation would continue to be in session past the summit, giving citizens the opportunity to assess challenges against democracy, learn about reforms and innovations, and find common ground.
  2. A Marshall Plan for Democracy to energise and focus activity in new democracies threatened by autocracy by supporting and funding deliberative projects. Given the significant threat posed by Russia, priority will be given to Central and Eastern European nations.
  3. A Global “What Works” Centre for Deliberative Democracy, which would make rigorous evidence and advice available to all for free, as well as advocating about the usefulness and importance of deliberative democracy. An existing, trusted global institution would support its implementation and maintenance, and help to supply trusted and rigorous evidence.

Relevant documents released by the cohort, including its 12 commitments and declaration on deliberative democracy, can be found in the links on the righthand side of the page, and any public events are listed below. We invite you to use the contact form on this portal if you have any contributions or corrections regarding this cohort. See an article by Graham Allen, creator of the Cohort on the importance of deliberative mechanisms here.

Title Date Description Link
Video Launch of the Cohort 17/01/23 To communicate the experiences in deliberative democracy by the cohort’s co-leads, its high-level declaration and agenda of 12 commitments to support the establishment of deliberative mechanisms at the national and international levels. Recording of Proceedings