Diversity and Public Action, a Challenge to the Legitimate Democratic Governance

Addis Ababa Meeting

Activity : International Meeting Process for Debate and Proposals on Governance ; Pluralism

Release Date: May 27, 2014 ; Number of pages : 57

Material Type : Colloquium Proceedings

Geographical areas : Africa ; Europe ; Est Africa ; South America

KeyWords : Social contract ; Legitimate governance ; State ; Legal Pluralism

Language: English

If there is a lesson one can learn from the political crises and social movements of recent years, it is that States and their societies need to come together and redefine a shared, inclusive, and dynamic definition of their social contract. To do this, it is important to start from the inherently plural character of any society in which actors coexist, and to take into account their needs and the variety of their cosmovisions. It is in this diversity that adhesion to the State is defined and that its legitimacy is built.

The International Meeting Process for Debate and Proposals on Governance placed at the heart of its reflection the often overlooked question of the plurality of the sources of power legitimacy. Coordinated by the IRG, it was able to both identify the main sources and their specificities in the different regions it traveled to, and to analyze their articulations and their impact on the legitimacy of the State.

Bringing the International Meeting Process to a conclusion, the Addis Ababa Meeting aimed to better understand how to promote both the taking into consideration of diversity by public action and constructive interactions between the sources of legitimacy of power. Based on an exchange of experiences – African, Latin American, and European – in the field of constitutional writing and reform processes and human rights, the meeting questioned the practical issues of plural governance. To what extent, and by what modalities, should diversity be the premise of public action? What roles can different actors play in the taking into account of diversity? What institutional arrangements facilitate this taking into account? How can the State embody, and not standardize, this plurality?

This meeting’s discussions and debates confirm that it is in public action that the plurality of sources of legitimacy can be articulated to give body to a peaceful and shared common desire to live together. This collective reflection thus contributes to a better understanding of the potential of plural public action, a major focus of the IRG’s work.

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