The aim of NIGD is to contribute to worldwide democratisation. To promote global democratisation, NIGD works to strengthen global civil society by producing and developing emanicipatory knowledge for democratic movements, organisations, and states. All of NIGD’s work is based on the conviction that globalisation, defined as the coming-together-of-humanity, must be based on cross-cultural dialogue concerning both philosophical fundamentals, and concrete reform proposals.
NIGD was founded in Helsinki in 1997 in accordance to the Finnish law on public associations. The seven founding members were Reino Hjerppe, Veli-Pekka Niitamo, Heikki Patomäki, Katarina Sehm, Vappu Taipale, Riku Warjovaara, and Matti Wuori. The cooperation between the foudning members eventually leading to the set up of NIGD emerged from the Finnish follow-up process (1995-1997) to the UN Secretary-General’s annual report on democratisation. Although initiated by seven Finns, NIGD has expanded into an international network with an international board. NIGD’s membership is composed of a transnational network of nearly 100 researchers and practitioners who strive to promote democratisation.
Today, NIGD operates from Helsinki, Finland and Lima, Peru. The Peru Office was set up in 2001 at the San Marcos University in Lima, Peru. In 1998-2002 NIGD operated on core funding from the Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, UK.
The concept of ‘network institute’ stands for our principle of maximal light-weight infrastructure. NIGD is a ‘coming-together’ of researchers and activists from most parts of the globe around certain projects, for specific periods of time. UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has explicitly acknowledged NIGD as a ‘pioneering form of electronic network that has furthered the democratisation process’.
NIGD’s activities are funded project wise. Members are encouraged to initiate practical-political activities within NIGD while remaining connected to their respective constituencies. NIGD activities include: conducting research, publishing Discussion and Working Papers, organising workshops, seminars and conferences, and consultancy work.
NIGD is a founding member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, and takes part in thematic, local, regional, and national social forums and debates.
NIGD operates on a project basis. Each project is supervised by a project supervisor who is in charge of the project budget. The project supervisor is directly responsible to the board.
The board is elected at its annual meetings. In 2007, membership includes 78 persons.
The board 2010
Matti Kohonen. Matti Kohonen serves a current chair to the board.
Ruby van der Wekken. Since 2003, when she was residing for three years in the Amazonas of Brazil, Ruby has been an active member of NIGD involved in most of its day to day work and development and has furthermore been active among other with NIGDs work around the WSF and its International Council. Ruby is currently based at home where she takes care of her youngest son, whilst working as a freelance journalist on development policy issues. As an activist she is involved in various other entities in Finland, in particular on the WSF process and issues of ecological democracy.
Raphael is a Dutch activist and researcher, whose contributed to the construction and development of the Programme on Democracy and Global Transformation in Lima over the past two years. He´se currently coordinator of this centre, which organizes debates, publications and academic programs in the San Marcos University, and works with different social organizations in Peru. He is currently advancing his PhD research on the situation of social movements in Peru in comparative perspective.
As an activist Rapha has been involved in different networks, collectives and social organizations in both Europe and Latin-America, engaged in the struggle against the privatization of services; the construction of solidarity networks in between European and Latin-American social movements; and the refugeemovement in the Netherlands.
Ritu Priya. Ritu is a medical graduate with a doctorate in Public Health from Jawharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she is currently a faculty member. She has been active in the people’s/alternative health movement since 1982 and is a member (currently convenor) of the Medico Friend Circle, an all-India network of socially conscious medicos and others with concerns about health of the poor and the rational practise of medicine. She is one of the coordinators of the Swasthya panchayat, working group on health of Lokayan and active in the Vasudhaiva Kutumbakm network. As an inter-disciplinary reseracher, she has written on issues of urban poor and planning, poverty nutrition and communicable deseases (especially TB and AIDS), epidemology, health systems research and health policy, dalits and backwards castes, NGOs in health, and linkages of democracy and health. Currently, she is also a member of the Working Group on Ecology and Dignity of the SADED, CSDS.
Mikael Böök is a library activist, based in Lovisa, Finland.