Starting off well in Montreal

Curtis Rojakovick
10 November 2005

Global Democracy Conference

A positive experience during a recent international conference on civil society in Montreal leaves ICV's Montreal Representation hopeful for the future. It hopes to build on this momentum and provide volunteer services to other upcoming international conferences taking place in Montreal.

With one successful international conference completed, ICV's new Montreal Representation can now look forward to future projects and conferences. For nearly five months this past spring, ICVolunteers worked in conjunction with the Montreal International Forum (FIM) in preparation for the conference "Global Democracy 2005" (G05), which took place at McGill University from 29 May to 01 June 2005. Unlike many other volunteer projects, for which the volunteers are primarily active during the actual event, ICV's Montreal Representation provided the FIM with volunteers as early as February 2005? nearly four months before the start of the Global Democracy conference! In total, ICV volunteers contributed to the preparation of the FIM with an average of slightly more than seventy hours per week leading up to the event. They completed a variety of tasks and responsibilities: administrative work, web site maintenance (www.g05.org), communications and press release writing, translation, photography, fundraising and sponsorship.

During the conference, an additional twenty-five volunteers joined forces with the ten already in place to help guarantee a smooth-running conference. The volunteer base was diverse, with sixteen nationalities and nearly just as many languages represented. Many of the G05 participants made sure to highlight the impressive linguistic diversity, professionalism and motivation of the volunteers; such praise should come as no surprise, considering the average volunteer was a master's student studying international affairs or a related field. In fact, most of the volunteers were willing to give so much of their time because the subject matter of the conference was of great personal interest to them.

Focusing on the role of civil society within global governance and international institutions such as the United Nations, Global Democracy 2005 attracted more than 400 participants from over sixty countries. From various professional backgrounds, the participants were brought together to create realistic civil society visions and strategies for global democracy, or as the conference motto says, to "move from reaction to real action." The volunteers, when not working, were able to attend the various sessions, benefiting from world-class speakers such as Cândido Grzybowski (co-founder of the World Social Forum).

The presence of such well-known speakers obviously attracted the attention of the media, both local and national, and a team of volunteers oversaw media relations. The publication of several articles and interviews in the written press is a testament to the team's successful work. Having positions of responsibility, such as media relations, conference reporting, or interpretation, kept the volunteers motivated and focused on the job at hand. A member of the protocol team, Mohamed said that he "would recommend to his friends that they apply for ICV volunteer opportunities because they are challenging and interesting positions." This positive word-of-mouth reputation should help ICV's Montreal Representation as it works towards developing a long-term presence in Canada.

In the near future, ICV in Montreal plans to continue to work on a long-term basis with some of the G05 volunteers, with the goal of increasing ICV's presence in the region. These volunteers would work in close coordination with the representation already in place in Montreal, as well as with some of the members of ICV's headquarters in Geneva. The hope is that by bringing together all of these qualified and motivated professionals and volunteers, ICV can look back on the Global Democracy 2005 conference as one of the first in a long list of success stories.

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