Deliberative democracy: Citizens' Juries


A citizens' jury can be a good model of participatory decision making that allows the voices of the most marginalised, and yet most affected by development policies, to be heard and included. But to be truly valuable and to ensure that the citizens’ jury succesfully influences policy, it must be set up with painstaking efforts to ensure its integrity, inclusiveness and credibility.

In any given society it is important to ask whose perspectives, knowledge and aspirations are embedded in policies, and whose are excluded. Recognising that policies usually reflect and reinforce the interests of the powerful, citizens’ juries are attempts to foster greater inclusion and democratic pluralism in policy making.

This project page sheds light on the process of policy making and how a citizens’ jury can influence it. It looks at the policy impacts of two citizens’ juries and highlights the factors which enabled civil society empowerment to change policy.

Citizens Space for Democratic Deliberation on GMOs and the future of farming in Mali:

As indicated by its name, this Citizens' Jury is a space to share knowledge, dialogue and inform decisions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in relation to the future of farming in Mali. This event involved farmers, -men and women-, from all districts of the Sikasso region in Mali.  The Citizens' Jury on GMOs took place in Sikasso between 25 and 29 January 2006.

The Citizens' Jury on GMOs was organised by the Regional Assembly of Sikasso, with conceptual and methodological support by the Réseau Interdisciplinaire Biosécurité (RIBios) of the Institut Universitaire d’Etudes du Développement in Geneva and by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London. This project has been supported by funds from the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS). A Steering Committee was set up in June 2005 to develop and plan the Citizens' Jury. This Steering Committee was made of approximately 15 members representing the following institutions:

* Regional Assembly of Sikasso
* Centre Djoliba
* Jubilé 2000
* Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER)/Comité Régional de la Recherche Agronomique
* (CRRA)
* Compagnie Malienne de Développement des Textiles (CMDT)
* Association des Organisations Professionnelles Paysannes (AOPP)
* Union Rurale des Radios et Télévisions (URTEL)/Radio Kene
* Comité Régional de Concertation des Ruraux (CRCR)
* Coordination Régionale des ONG (CR/ONG)
* Jekasy/Intercoopération
* Chambre d’agriculture
* Commission Régionale des Utilisateurs de la Recherche (CRU)
* Syndicat des Producteurs de coton et vivriers (SYCOV)
* Syndicat pour la Valorisation des Cultures Cotonnières et Vivrières (SYVAC)
* International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) de Londres
* Réseau Interdisciplinaire Biosécurité (RIBios)/IUED Genève

The aim of a citizens' jury is to link local voices and visions with national and international policy making.

Prajateerpu: A Citizens’ Jury
Scenario Workshop on Food Futures for Andhra Pradesh, India

Citizens' Juries on GMOs and farming futures in India

Additional resources


Espace Citoyen d'Interpellation Démocratique sur les organismes génetiques modifiés en relation avec l'avenir de l'agriculture au Mali, Ministere de l'Administration Territoriales et des Collectivités Locales (2006)

Les OGM, une occasion de démocratiser la démocratie? [French only], Horizons IUéD (2006)

L'Espace Citoyen d'Interpellation Démocratique sur les OGM et l'Avenir de l'Agriculture au Mali, Powerpoint presentation, 1,311 KB [French only]

'Paroles de Paysans', Background information for an IIED critical theme (July 2007), by Michel Pimbert

Press and media

"Resistance continues to GM crops. Mali: not on my farm", Le Monde diplomatique, 2006 - English | French 

Up Front: African Farmers Say No to GMO Cotton, The Ecologist April 2006

Mali Farmers Reject GM Crops as Attack on Their Way of Life,  The Independent UK, 31 January 2006

Interpellation démocratique sur les OGM à Sikasso, PDF 31 KB (L’Indépendant du Mali, 6 February 2006)

Le Tribunal des OGM s'installe à Sikasso,Les Echos, 26 January 2006

Regards croisés sur les OGM, Les Echos

Interview with Ousmane Sy: Chair of the Independent Oversight Panel and ex-Minister of the Government in Mali

Les Echos: “ Le raz-de-marée du non contre les OGM à Sikasso ”

Mali Farmers' Jury Rejects Bt Cotton,, Gaia Foundation, 1 February 200

"Mali : Un jury citoyen dit non aux OGM" (Adels Revue Territoires - French only) Online Article OR PDF version (414KB)


This project is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swiss Development Cooperation.


Institute of Development Studies

Citizens' jury India Andhra Pradesh Coalition in defence of Diversity, University of Hyderabad and the National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Citizens' jury in Mali Regional Assembly of Sikasso, the Réseau Interdisciplinaire Biosécurité (RIBios) of the Institut Universitaire d’Etudes du Développement