What is the Citizens Jury Method?
The role of the Citizen’s Jury is to prepare the ground for making decisions with the participation of 15-30 persons representing their own micro-community.
- The group of citizens involved is representative for gender, age and opinions.
- Decision is made after a talk of experts.
- Result of the process is a decision based on consensus.
- Decision of the Citizen’s Jury is communicated via local media.
- The entire process is moderated by independent facilitators.
Method of the Citizen’s Jury is based on three hypotheses:
- If sufficient information is provided, the participants will be able to take responsible decisions even in complex issues.
- If all the related parties are involved well in advance in the decision-making, there is a possibility to reach a consensus of all the parties.
- A well-founded civic decision equals in its grounding and validity with the decisions of the elected public bodies and authorities, hence the citizens take part with equal weight in decision-making and planning.
The goal of the Citizen’s Jury is to formulate proposals and submit them in a written form to the decision-makers and ask their content taken into consideration when making local decisions and plans.
The Citizen’s Jury works in the presence of the following basic criteria:
- The participants must represent the community, which delegates them, i.e. they must represent the structure of their community in the most possible aspects: gender, age, profession, financial situation etc. Such an all-encompassing representation is of course impossible, the organizers should decide always on the basis of the issue in question about the factors they regard the most representative. The most important factor, however, must be the representation of various opinions. During the preparations, the greatest diversity of opinions must be mapped and the organizers should delegate representatives into the Citizen’s Jury for all the possible pro and contra opinions.
The final decision must be preceded by the audition of experts. The role of experts is to provide information about the technical, social, economic and legal background of the given issue. The experts must
- possess a good theoretical knowledge and practical experience
- be neutral, that is, possibly is not from the members of the local community
- try for balance, highlighting the greatest number of viewpoints, the pro and contra opinions on scientific level as well.
- The final result must be a decision based on consensus, which can be regarded both by the decision-makers and the inhabitants as their own. A decision made in such a way will urge the community to act together instead of dividing it into factions.
- The best way to communicate the decision of the Citizen’s Jury to the public is through the local media. It is crucial that the Citizen’s Jury should prepare, organize and carry out the decision-making process in front of the widest possible public.
- The work of the Citizen’s Jury is directed by independent moderators. A local civic organization or even an ad hoc group of citizens may prepare and organize the whole programme. However, an independent professional is needed to moderate the public debates for two reasons:
- A professional moderator has the skills that facilitate the decision- making and may resolve the possible conflicts.
- He or she is not a member of the local community, thus has no personal interest and will be able to be objective.
What are the benefits of the Citizens Jury Method?
The properly prepared and established decision of different layers of the local society can be collected. Citizens can act in decision making processes as equal partners. Jurors represent a wide range of characteristics of the wider population. People participate as a citizen and not as users or stakeholders, so all jury members are equal. Jury members are given detailed information on the issues they are asked to decide on. Jurors can invite the right people: professionals, or anybody else to provide evidence to them for rounded understanding.
How the Method works
In every occasion, the aim is to solve an existing (social, environmental, infrastructural) problem, which affects the everyday life of the community, involving the residents and all the sectors (governmental, non-governmental, business).
At the Jury Meeting, the participants listen to talks of independent experts on the topic concerned. During the following debate they form a common viewpoint acceptable for everyone.
In which questions it is worth to organize a CJM?
- Examination of a communal refusal/support of a measure.
- Testing of the citizens’ opinion about an investment.
- Planning of the future.
Community development, citizens’ democracy techniques
Our Accredited Program
Community development, democracy techniques
The aim of the program
Accomplishing this training the participants acquire the basics of democracy techniques which can be used in community development, they will be able to organize and facilitate citizens’, inhabitants’ forums. Thanks to the program the participants’ commitment and activity regarding the practice of local democracy will be strengthened.
Competencies which can be acquired in the course of the training
The theoretical basis and the practical possibilities of community development
The theoretical basis and the practical possibilities of democracy techniques
Assertive and suggestive communication skills
Conflict resolution skills
Decision-facilitating tools and the ability to use them
Number of lessons: 24 lessons