Seven years ago, in 2010, Stéphane Hessel called out the Time for outrage! His 32-pages pamphlet has been translated into 34 languages, has sold millions and millions of copies and has inspired massive demonstrations and occupy movements from Portugal, Spain or Athens to New York, Istanbul, Hong Kong and Chile. These mobilisations reclaim real democracy and social justice, respect for Human rights and civil liberties in a global context marked by moral and political crisis, complicated by the social consequences of the world financial crisis.
Some of these social movements run out of steam, some have been repressed, while certain gave rise to political movements. But regardless of their short term effects, undoubtedly they contributed to the awakening of civic spirit against unjust policies and undemocratic governments. In some cases, civic mobilisations won important victories, including the overthrow of corrupt leaders, the repeal of restrictive laws or the securing of equal rights.
Since 2012, massive and repeated mobilisations of citizens emerged in countries from the former Eastern bloc, where democracy can be considered fragile and social justice is a missed stop in the post-communist transition. They showed that people learned how to contest abuses perpetrated by those in power. In a regional context marked by the raise of nationalism, identity politics and illiberal regimes, does this broad sense of dissatisfaction towards national politics revive expectations from the European integration as guarantee of democratic stability if not a real opportunity to improve living conditions?
The European Civic Forum will contribute to provide spaces and encourage democratic and progressive forces, organisations and social movements to meet, to exchange, to develop long term strategies and joint initiatives, fighting against the erosion of civic space, defending our vision for Europe based on solidarity and equal access to civil, political, social, economic, cultural and environmental rights for all the people living in Europe.
The European Civic Days are a unique space for civic actors to share ideas and experiences, to take stock of political, institutional and social challenges facing Europe today and envision ways forward. This year’s forum will spot positive examples coming particularly from civic mobilisations from Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, illustrating the values we share, tapping into their potential for developing counter narratives and driving these citizens’ democratic aspirations into the political debate about the future of Europe.
This year, the European Civic Days will take place in Belgrade, Serbia on 9 and 10 June 2017. The programme is also available in Serbian.
About the venue: Dom Omladine Beograda (DOB) is a cultural and educational venue in Belgrade, which for 50 years, since 1964, creates and organises programs for and by young people. In its range of activities, Dom Omladine Beograda covers all art disciplines and forms: music, film, theater, visual arts and new media. Debates and debate programmes equally take up an important place in the programme activities, by analyzing current topics in various fields (popular and traditional culture, philosophy, social issues, science, literature, science fiction, music …), but also based programs by combining art and science. DOB has intense cooperation and active communication with numerous cultural, educational and scientific institutions, youth and student associations, but also with governmental and non-governmental organisations.