Democratic Dialogue | 民主式對話 | Global Greens

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Democratic Dialogue | 民主式對話

Green Parties and civil society movements convened in Dakar, Senegal this April 2012 to discuss the world’s critical intractable issues of today, and it was at this Global Greens Congress that I experienced the connection between dialogue and democracy.  From these discussions among 400+ delegates emerged resolutions declaring our common voice on clean technology, the rights of indigenous peoples, sustainable development, LGBT rights, land justice and biodiversity, marine ecosystems, the occupy movement, Syria, Tibet, Western Sahara, Greece, and many more.  The following article reports the process used to reach a single voice from a cacophony of opinions.  This is dialogue in action as democracy.

The Greens are the world's fastest growing political family working for change inside and outside the world's governments and have elected representatives in all corners of the world at local, state, national, and European Parliament level.  Organized into Federations in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia-Pacific, the Greens work cooperatively to implement an inspiring Global Greens Charter articulating our core values and political actions of participatory democracy, social justice, nonviolent security, and respect for diversity (www.asiapacificgreens.org/charter).  The Greens strive to walk the talk of democracy by consensus-based decision making; it was in this consensus building process that I experienced how dialogic skills are incredibly useful for dealing with complex, potentially frictional and divisive issues.  Below is the story of one such case:

The most hotly debated resolution at the Congress was about the future of the Greens institution - the organizational structure, strategy and financing, all traditionally sensitive political topics.  The goal was global consensus, yet each topic felt like a land mine for debate as we began with every individual holding a different perspective on our current reality and aspiration for what to create and how.  A simple deliberative process however whittled down the largeness of the task into manageable pieces:

Stage 1: A few months before the Congress a small working group of both experienced and new Greens dialogued and drafted a preliminary resolution.

Stage 2: Each world Federation (Africa, Asia, Americas and Europe) held internal deliberations over the draft and proposed amendments based on local perspectives.  The Asia Pacific process began with delegates sitting in a circle and opening the space for inquiry and advocacy to develop the group’s understanding of the major implications for our region.  Each nation’s delegation voiced their reactions, needs and perspectives based on their local realities.  As each delegate spoke, I observed attentive and empathetic listening from the circle.  I fully believe this opportunity to voice and feel heard by one’s peers was a critical foundation to achieving our end consensus.  Afterwards, volunteers among the circle formed a small working group to draft amendments on behalf of the whole Asia Pacific.  Legitimacy existed because people were given a full opportunity to speak their minds and participate.

Stage 3: By morning, the Asia Pacific delegates reconvened to review the amendments generated by our working group.  This is where the magic of a dialogic process makes all the difference: what could have been discord instead became harmony.  A skillful moderator held the space with calm poise and brought each line of the lengthy article under group inspection.  All from the floor were given full opportunity to speak uninterrupted; as people raised their hands indicating desire to speak, their names were added to a list and one-by-one their time with the mic was given.  I believe this pacing enabled people the time to reflect rather than speaking reactively and created a civil and constructive movement. 

Stage 4: Each Federation’s positions was stated by a representative in a speech to the 400 members of the congress.  The floor erupted with debate and immediately a space was nominated for negotiations to continue among anyone wishing to participate.  After the negotiation group dialogued for an hour, they nominated Federation representatives to continue synthesizing the amendments into one single document.  Negotiations continued among the representatives who then nominated an even smaller groups of 3-4 representatives from each Federation to reach agreement on the most contentious areas.  Finally, an agreement was melded by another working group empowered by the whole for this task.  Ultimately, the final document was presented with track changes to the whole 400 global delegates, read through line by line and put to vote for endorsement.  This fractious document passed unanimously.

I observed how constant dialogue generated legitimacy and consensus.  I learned that consensus is not reached at once, but through many stages and group sizes empowered by the whole to work on key pieces.  Good ideas come through the maturation of being worked on again-and-again from different perspectives.  Dialogic skills of listening, empathy, mutual respect, inquiry, advocacy, and good facilitative process made this all possible in a civilized and constructive manner, leading me to conclude that dialogue and democracy are two sides of the same coin.

Article by Keli Yen, Asia Pacific Greens Network Convener,  and CP Yen Foundation Facilitator: http://cp-yen.ning.com/profiles/blogs/5-2012-democratic-dialogue

 民主式對話

多國綠黨與推動公民社會運動的組織於2012年四月在塞內加爾的達喀爾(Dakar, Senegal)聚會,共同討論當今全球最艱鉅的一些議題。就是在這全球綠黨大會(Global Greens Congress)中,我體驗到對話與民主之間的緊密關係。從這些討論中,大家做出許多重要的決議,包括在淨化科技上共同發聲、原住民族群的權益、永續發展、LGBT跨性別族群權益、土地正義與生物多樣性、海洋生態系、占領運動、西伯利亞、西藏、西薩哈拉、希臘,以及更多的議題。以下的文章就記錄一個匯集不同意見、達到共同聲音的過程。這就是對話在民主中的呈現。

綠黨是全球最快速成長的政治組織,希望能在全球的政府體系內外帶來改革,而且在全球各地的當地、州政府與國家層級,以及歐洲的國會當中,都有許多民意代表。全球綠黨組織成美洲、非洲、歐洲與亞太地區的聯合會,共同合作來執行全球綠黨章程,是一份充滿啟發性的文件,強調透過參與式民主、社會正義、非暴力的安全、對多元文化的尊重等核心價值 (請查詢網站章程內容www.asiapacificgreens.org/charter)。綠黨希望身體力行,透過共識表達民主精神。就是在這達成共識的過程,讓我很驚奇地見識到對話的技巧在處理複雜、可能引發衝突、容易分裂的議題上扮演的重要角色。以下就是其中的一個小故事:

在這場綠黨大會中,最受熱烈討論的決議就是綠色組織的未來- 討論到組織的結構、策略與財務等過去都是非常敏感的政治議題。大家的目標是達到一個全球性的共識。但是一開始討論時,卻因每個人對當下的真相都有不同的觀點,對於未來的想法與該如何做到也持有不同意見,每個議題都宛若地雷,隨時可能引爆。但是這些卻都靠著一個很簡單又精心設計的過程,將這些如同怪獸般巨大的議題得以拆解成可管理的小區塊:

步驟一:大會開始的幾個月前,一小群涵蓋經驗豐富和新手綠人共聚一堂,進行對話並構思出初步的決議。

步驟二:每一個世界聯合會(非洲、亞洲、美洲、歐洲)開會,以當地的觀點討論草案以及提出的修訂方案。在亞太地區的流程是:我們先坐在圓圈內,打開空間,讓大家提問與表達意見,從這開始瞭解這些議案對這一地區會有什麼樣的影響。每個國家的代表以他們當地的狀況發想,提出回應、需求與觀點。每位代表發言的過程中,我注意到圓圈中的每個人都仔細聆聽,也很同理。我深深相信,能夠表達意見,並且感受到自己的聲音被在場同仁聽見,絕對是建立共識的一個關鍵基礎。在那之後,團隊中的志工組成一個小型工作小組,撰寫一份代表整個亞太區的修正案。這份修正案有絕對的合法性,因為大家都有機會全程參與且充分表達他們的意見。

步驟三;隔天早上,亞太區的代表再度開會討論工作小組構思出的修正案。就是在此,對話發揮其神奇魔力:原本可能出現的紛爭化為和諧。一位有經驗的協調者以鎮定的神態穩住空間,逐句念出這繁瑣的每一條文,讓團隊一併檢視。現場的每位成員都有有機會在不被干擾的狀態下表達意見;每當參與者舉手發言,大家就會把麥克風交給他們,隨之,他們的名字就會加註於名單上。我認為這個節奏讓大家有時間思考,而不是在不加思索的狀態下直接做出反應,因此營造出文明、有建設性的氛圍,促使會議有所斬獲。

步驟四:每一個聯合會發表一篇演講,為現場所有人說明他們的主要立場,在大家有所回應的同時,立刻會安排可以協商的空間,讓任何想要協商的人繼續。等到協商小組發言完畢,就會從參與的人士當中選出代表,繼續根據這份文件內容,討論聯合會的每一個修正案。這個小組繼續協商,然後再度由每個聯合會的3-4位代表組成小組,在所有棘手的議題上取得共識。同時,每一項同意的條款也透過大家賦權的另一個工作小組來同步處理。最後完成的文件都將所有更改的項目追蹤並提供給在場的所有600位全球代表,由大家逐句閱讀,最後投票表決。這份大家投入心力完成的文件最後得以全票通過。 

我注意到持續的對話如何帶來合法性與共識;我也學到共識並非馬上可以達成,而是透過許多不同的階段及不同人數的團體,透過大家的授權來探討關鍵的議題。好的想法透過不同角度反覆探索,逐漸成熟。對話中的聆聽、同理、互相尊重、探詢、倡議等技巧,搭配絕佳的引導流程,導致大家可以在文明、有建設性的方式下完成這一切,也讓我深信對話與民主是兩面一體的。

本文撰寫人: 顏克莉,亞太綠人召集人、朝邦文教基金會引導師: http://cp-yen.ning.com/profiles/blogs/5-2012-democratic-dialogue

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