Peace Child International Model Citizens' Assembly

What is a Citizens’ Assembly ?


A Model Citizens’ Assembly is one of the finest, concentrated learning experiences that a school or community can ever undertake. Your Jury will broadly represent the many different sectors of your community (being sure to represent those experiencing inequalities) and an Assembly (a diverse audience of interested observers). The Assembly will listen and question witnesses who present arguments for and against the choice being explored.

A Model Citizen’s Assembly (MCA) can be held to explore any issue – from putting a water fountain in a local park, to important global issues including existential threats that could wipe out humanity forever. The purpose of every Assembly is identical: to enable communities, and individuals, to come to informed decisions on challenging issues and to create action points. They are an alternative to Model UNs, designed to be simpler to organise and manage. MCAs allow participants to deep dive into a single issue and develop community understandings.

Hold a Model Citizen’s Assembly

Hold your own Model Citizen’s Assembly! Follow these simple steps:

  1. Appoint a Jury – 20 to 50 persons balanced to represent your community
  2. Recruit an Audience – welcome anyone who’s interested (as many as possible)
  3. Appoint or train your Expert Witnesses (no more than five a side)
  4. Plan action points and next steps – to follow up your informed decision with ACTION

In a school, for a genuine Peace Child MCA, Step Three involves training up a group of students to present each side of the argument. This is where detailed learning can take place and, as with the Model UNs, the students themselves are encouraged to take responsibility for researching in depth the arguments they are presenting. This has the added value of giving the young people a sense of ownership of the Assembly. It empowers them, hopefully, to take Step Four and act on the informed decision the Assembly reaches (Peace Child’s mission is ‘Empowering Young People’).

It is equally possible to appoint outside experts where possible, including elders who are passionate and informed about the field. We welcome the use of TED talk-style videos on the topic under discussion to further develop the conversation. And, of course, you are welcome to use the recordings on this website of the witness statements from our Pilot MCAs. Please check these out to learn how witnesses present their cases – the awesome, the good, the bad and the ugly!