Civil Society Organizations

A civil society can be defined as a community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity. According to the world bank, the term civil society refers to the wide array of non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations.[1] Civil Society Organizations (CSO) has increasingly influenced global public policy over the past two decades. These organizations tend to advocate campaigns around issues such as banning of land mines, debt cancellation and environmental protection. They have been important factors in achieving social services and implementing development programs in regions where government presence is minimal.

For goals of development to be achieved civil societies holds an indispensable role. Historically, civil societies tend to emerge in contexts of conflict in society. In situations of instability, these organizations help to bring back structure, articulate concerns of the marginalized, and promote political participation. By doing so, they solve social conflicts and monitor government action. Although promotion of civil societies has gathered a lot of enthusiasm, potential risks cannot be overlooked. In countries with weak civil societies, outside interference tends to have an impact on the development and efficiency of civil societies. The weaker these organizations are, the higher risk of new conflicts emerging throughout the nation.

It is also important to analyze what constitutes as a civil society and the external promotion of these organizations. It is important to denote that not all civil societies automatically aim to increase development. Matter of fact, interest groups can serve as civil societies. Interest groups tend to organize in the same format as civil society and block social change. In addition, it is important to realize the difference between development cooperation and civil society organizations. Governments in developing nations try to influence and control the information flow to and out of these organizations. Such governments tend control development processes for their own purposes.

In addition, to maintain a high level of quality for these civil societies, development of a diversified civil society should be supported by a diversity of organizations. Parallel promotion by NGOs, churches and trade unions, by human rights and environmental groups contribute to the emergence of a pluralist civil society.[2] The impact of these players contributes to the accessibility of these organizations. They offer a way for nations to comparatively analyze each other and contribute to the level of growth of CSO globally.

[1]”Defining Civil Society.” The World Bank. The World Bank Group, 23 July 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.

[2] Windfuhr, Michael. “The Promotion of Civil Society in Developing Countries — the Example of European Development Cooperation.” German Development Institute. N.p., June 1999. Web.