The Global Citizenship Forum, organised by the British Council, was held at Selsdon Park, outside London, from 8 – 10 March 2012. The initiative came from the US Centre for Citizen Diplomacy and it was attended by delegates from around the world. However, I was the only delegate from organisations based in South Asia. I represented two organisations at the Forum: the non- official Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, the oldest think tank in Pakistan, of which I am Chairperson and Aurat Foundation Pakistan, the leading non-governmental organisation working in the fields of women’s rights and empowerment in Pakistan, of which I am President.
Discussion at the Forum ranged from recognizing global citizenship, identifying challenges, discovering shared objectives, transforming ideas into action and assessing collective impact. Much of the discussion was informal and held in small groups. Some of us struggled with the concept of global citizenship and, as was expected, only a vague definition emerged from the ideas penned on numerous flip charts. However, we still moved ahead to the “way forward” and there were many converts before the meeting concluded.
The keynote address on the first day was delivered by Simon Anholt who prefers to be regarded as a “policy adviser” rather than a “consultant” and said he has advised governments around the globe. His talk was witty, a bit sceptical about global citizenship at the beginning but tolerant of it towards the end.
As is usual at such meetings, one was fortunate in getting to known many interesting persons from different backgrounds. I was particularly happy to meet the two Palestinian delegates, Sami Khader from the MAAN Development Centre and Rami Nasereddin from Palestinian Vision. They said they had come to the Forum to highlight the plight of the Palestinian people.
The Global Citizenship Forum is to be followed by an international conference on the subject in the near future. My video interview is available below.