A citizens’ assembly is a randomly selected group of residents using demographic criteria such as gender and age. It’s a jurisdiction in miniature.
A citizens’ assembly is an in-depth analysis of a given issue, a deliberation over different solutions, a hearing of the pros and cons – leading to informed decision making.
Throughout the process, assembly members listen to expert witnesses. These include neutral experts, stakeholders and advocates representing all sides, for a balanced and complete picture of the issue. The assembly may request its own witnesses.
For a straightforward explanation of how citizens assemblies work, go to citizensassemblies.org.
For more explanation and two examples of UK assemblies, go to citizensassembly.co.uk.
Citizens’ assemblies in Jersey
Guernsey has never held a citizens’ assembly but Jersey has run several, including climate change and the site for their new hospital.
Jersey’s Public Accounts Committee has reviewed five of Jersey’s citizens’ assemblies, with costs ranging from £5k to £150k, and published a detailed report comparing them. PAC concluded that the best model for future assemblies in Jersey is the Assisted Dying Citizens’ Jury (cost £66k). In November 2021, the Jersey’s States Assembly became the first parliament in the British Isles to decide ‘in principle’ to allow assisted dying.
From page 25 of the PAC report: