Global Civil Society
Global Civil Society
Over the years the civil societies have increasingly played a major role in global governance. Their involvement has attracted a lot of attention where people are skeptical about what are global civil societies. The rate at which the global civil societies are emerging as well as their political role in the globe has received a lot of attention from scholars around the world. The big question has always been how the global social society which includes the social movement and not governmental organization can form a coalition and influence the global policies.
Studies have also been focused on empirical as well as the normative perspective of the global civil societies. The normative perspective of these studies focus on whether the role of the global civil society is legitimate. Whether the global civil societies have a role in making global policies and policy making democratic has been the big question (Hofmann, 2005). With the current globalization and deregulation, the role of non governmental organizations and civil movement is becoming increasingly important in the making of global policies.
There is increasingly high number of key policies directly affecting a country that is made outside the state where the process is likely to be undemocratic. For this reason many of the scholars view global civil society as a potential force that is essential in making the globalization process more civilized and democratic (Colas, 2002). Global Civil Society Over the years, the meaning of civil society and their political influence has varied from time to time. Moreover, they also vary theoretically and activities undertaken from place to place.
While today civil societies are separate from the states, the political thought in the 16th century did not separate the civil societies from the state. In the 17th century, civil societies included profit making organization which is not the case today. The global civil society can be seen as the political space where nonprofit making organization voluntarily and deliberately influences the governance of the society. The voluntary and deliberate acts of the civil societies influence the rules which include the policies, norms and structures that are essential in the governance of the society.
The actions of the civil societies focus on both the formal and informal structures in the society. For example, they may focus on the legislation as well as the gender roles in the society or the general social order (Scholte, 2002). However, it is difficult to draw a line between the voluntary activities that influence governance and formal or market activities. For example, some civil societies are involved in the implementation of formal policies while some others are involved in business activities to raise money that is used in the funding of their campaigns.
Moreover, there many cases of government and cooperate organization that have incorporated some civil societies. In pure terms, the activities of civil societies should not include or be related to quest for power which excludes political parties from the list or any monetary gains which excludes cooperate organizations and commercial media houses. The civil society therefore has several actors which includes academic institution civil movements, social advocates, lobby groups faith based organization, human rights advocates and social networks.
Philanthropic organizations and organization that profit humanitarian aids are also civil societies (Scholte, 2002). However, political scientists have been skeptical about the definition of global civil society. Some scholars have disagreed with the general assumption that all civil societies that operate in different countries can be termed as global civil societies. These scholars have argued that considering transnational civil societies as global civil society is an attempt to include all non governmental organizations operating transitionally in the bracket.
This will include the quasi Christian movements which are the remnants of missionaries from Europe operating in different parts of the world. These skeptics have suggested that global civil societies those civil organizations uphold universal values in the globalizing world while effectively using globalization to promote universal values. They view global civil societies as movements and organizations that use globalization to universalize the world (Anderson & Rieff, 2004).
Some political scientists have also been skeptical about the values symbolized by global civil societies and their supporters. Rather that taking democracy as the basic value in the society, majority of the global civil societies appear to have taken human rights as the basic society value. Despite this the democracy in the world is greatly dependent on the role of the global civil societies. As the civil societies promote human rights, it is important to note the loopholes for human rights violation created by the democracy deficit that is present in many parts of the world.
However, it is indisputable that although the global civil societies have focused on promotion of human rights, they have played an important role in the support of democracy. Some people have argued that the civil societies have concentrated more on human rights in the global society at the expense of democracy but it is evident that the two values complement each other and are both indispensable in every society (Anderson & Rieff, 2004). Examples of global civil societies that have taken an active role in global governance are the non governmental organizations.
These organizations were not active in the world affairs until the United Nations was founded in 1945. The formation of the United Nations introduced provisions that made private civil organizations stronger and formal as well as enhancing the role of the role of the United Nations in the social and economic affairs of the world. There are numerous organizations all over the world that are described as non governmental organizations. Some of them operate as transnational organization while other operates at the national level. However, these non governmental organizations have fundamental characteristics.
They are all independent from political influence or control by the state. There are other characteristics that exclude some organization from NGOs such as political parties, profit making organizations, and criminal groups. These conditions must be met for the organization to be recognized by the United Nations as a non governmental organization. However, some recognized non governmental organizations have been linked to political parties while many others are involved in commercial activities such as selling publications and consultancy to generate income.
Nonetheless, there are no cases where non governmental organizations are incorporated in the government bureaucracy, in political parties or commercial organizations. NGOs therefore are organizations that work together with a common goal and do not aim at attaining political power, accumulating wealth or being involved in criminal activities (Willets, 2006). Global Governance Global governance is one of the most important aspects of the modern world as a result of globalization.
It is a political and social interaction between nationals and societies of the world with an aim of developing solutions to the problems facing a particular society or state as a result lack of compliance. Global governance has also been referred to as world governance. In the modern world, no societies can life under social and political exclusion from the rest of the world. The world societies are becoming more and more interdependent with the rise of globalization which is as a result of human societies interrelating with each other especially in international trade.
This has created the need for global governance in the context of the global world which stipulates the regulations that govern the society at the global scale (Scholte, 2005). In simple terms, global governance is a stipulation of regulations that are set to organize different groups of people on a global scale. Historically, governance could not be separated from political authority and political institutions. The traditional definition of governance is based on the formal political institutions that organizes the relations between different societies and has the authority to enforce and implement policies.
A formal global government with political structures and authority may not exist for global governance. Some scholars have therefore suggested that global governance is the act of managing the global affairs without a global formal government. It is a well organized cooperation between societies of the world with concrete arrangement used in solving problems. Many organizations are involved in global governances which includes principally the United Nations and global civil societies. Global governance involves formal institutions and processes as well as informal mechanisms and institutions that work together in complex environment.
The collective interests of different societies, individuals, markets, nationals and organizations are articulated in the global governance while upholding the rights and obligations of individuals (Weiss, 1998). Democracy has been an important principle that governs the global governance. Democracy determines whether the exercise of power as well as the sources of power is legitimate. Legitimate exercise of power is mandated by the people being governed who have the democratic rights to determine how they will be governed.
Moreover, the individuals or institutions that are given the political powers should be worth the confidence the society places on them. Democracy is important in the global governance to reduce the possibility of leaving important decisions affecting the world societies the world to some international undemocratic institutions which may not be legitimate. Global governance requires some levels of representation of the global societies from different states or administrative units who are elected directly by the society members to represent their interests.
More importantly the role of global civil societies that promote human rights and democracy by influencing policy making is important in global governance (Scholte, 2007). The development of international organizations as a result of global governance has introduced vicious institutions in the world that make important decisions affecting the world societies. This has created some inadequacies in the ability of the global governance to meet the needs of the world society. This is basically due to absence of morality, economic powers, legal foundations, democracy and good leadership.
The lack of adequate legitimacy due to lack of legal foundations is the major challenge that affects the ability of global governance to organize and manage the world societies. The inadequacies in global governance are an impediment to the ensuring fair play in the world with the rise of globalization 9 Van Rooy, 2004). Examples of global governance agencies include the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization among others. These organizations were formed with the mandate of management of the social, economic and political affairs of the global world (Scholte, 2004).
Global Civil Societies and Global Governance Democracy and accountability of any form of governance is essential. The case is not different in global governance. In governance guided by the principles of democracy and accountability, the leaders are answerable to their subjects for their good and bad acts. When democratic leaders perform well in their governance, they are supported by the general public. On the other hand, they are responsible for their errors and owe an explanation to the public which may force them to resign from office.
However, there has been very little democracy and accountability when the arrangements in the global governance are considered. Over the years there has been unprecedented increase in the laws and institutions that affects societies in all over the world or in a given region of the world. Despite the increase in transnational policies, there regulation mechanisms are ineffective or inexistence. There is no democracy in the running of suprastate policies and institutions nor are the leaders accountable (Scholte, 2000). With this regard, there is a common belief that the global civil societies can save the situation.
The world society who have been in one way or another affected by global governance due to lack of democracy and effectiveness believes that their help can only come from the organizations such as the united nations, the world trade organization and other global institutions that can influence the formulation and implementation of global policies. The disadvantages societies have also laid their hopes on global civil societies such as community based organizations, religious groups, think tanks, social and economic forums, trade unions, professional organizations and NGOs to increase their involvement in global governance (Wolf, 2006).
Over the years, the civil societies have played an important role in influencing governance in the society. As the world changes the system of governance is also changing into a polycentric structure with the global and regional governance, state and substate governance. This has resulted into redirection of civil societies efforts from the traditional governance at the state level to other sites that have emerged in the complex society. The rise of globalization has made global governance inevitable which has created new needs for institutional accountability (Fraser, 2005).
The involvement of global civil society in global governance has become an essential role of the civil society. A very good example is the anti globalization movement that protested against the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank, think tanks and forums that have proposed various changes in the global economy as well as human right movements that have advocated for the enhancement of arms controls across the borders and management of conflicts in different parts of the world.
An important role has also been played by women associations who have made numerous attempts with much success in the promotion on of gender sensitivity in the global society. In the rise of global environmental degradation, it is important to note the role of environmental movements who have played an important role in the formulation and implementation of strict global environmental regulations. Trade unions have also played an important role in the promotion of international standards in the workplace.
There are a large number of civil societies that are involved in the promotion of health and development and have taken an active role in the management of funds allocated to healthcare. There are also involved in the control of diseases that are considered as transworld which includes Aids, malaria and other epidemics that require global attention. There are other global civil societies that are directly involved in global governance arrangements that affect vulnerable groups such as women, children and the consumers (Scholte, 2004).
Majority of the global governance institutions and agencies have realized the importance of global civil society in effectively carrying out their roles and have devised different mechanisms that are intended to accommodate the civil societies initiatives. Many of the global governance structures have developed channels that improve communication with the public through their websites and other communication channels that are aimed at addressing the concerns raised by civil societies.
The result has been more accountability and transparency as the global governance agencies release more and more information to the public through the civil societies. As a method of promoting democracy within, these agencies have created room for the participation of civil societies and interest groups in their activities including workshops and conferences. Briefings to the civil societies, appointment of liaison officials from the civil societies and adoption of guidelines in personnel recruitment as stipulated by interest civil group has also increased accountability in global governance.
Some global governance bodies have had formal arrangement to incorporate civil societies and interest groups in the management of their affairs where they include them in their advisory boards and the process making and implementation processes (Scholte, 2004). An example of an active involvement of civil societies in the global governance is the briefing of the International Monetary Fund to over one thousand global civil society through a quarterly newsletter. This ensures that the regulatory body is accountable and effective in carrying out its mandate.
The World Bank also ensures that the information on the activities of the agency is freely accessible especially to interest civil groups and the general public. The united nation is the largest and most influential global governance agency in the world. In every United Nations global summit, the views of the civil society is put into consideration with them holding a parallel forum in every summit. Notable global civil society includes the Non Governmental Liaison Service which works with different institutions in the United Nations and the International Labor Organization which represents workers organizations and trade unions.
In the years 2003, the World Trade Organization noted the important role played by civil societies and appointed a civil society advisory board (Scholte, 2004). The civil societies have played an important role in the promotion of accountability, effectiveness and democracy in global governance. They have played an important role in the promotion of transparency in the global governance formal and informal structures (Rhodes 1997). They promote democratic governance by pressing the agencies to disclose more information on their activities.
This has increased public visibility through mass media, publications and websites which makes these agencies more accountable for their activities. Civil societies not only advocate for transparency of global governance agencies but also effective transparency. They understand that releasing the information to the public is one thing and understanding the details is another thing (Scholte et al, 1999). Monitoring and review of global governance policy is also an important role of the civil societies in ensuring effective, accountable and democratic governance.
They act as the public watchdogs in the formulation and implementation of the policies. They ensure that the agencies comply with the stipulated guidelines, the official resolutions and declarations. They have also been involved in the review of global governance policies and how they affect different societies of the world. These reviews have been instrumental in uncovering incompetent implementers, shortfalls and the dangers associated with such policies. The civil societies have also played a role in ensuring that the global governance structures and policies do not result into ethnic strife and uprising.
This in many cases may result from the dissatisfaction of some society with the distribution and misuse of resources from global governance agencies such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. The civil society has also created channels through which different societies can forward their concerns, promoted formal accountability and in general advanced democracy in global governance (Scholte, 2004). Conclusion The global societies have played an important role in the promotion of democracy in the national as well as the global governance. However, political scientists are skeptical about the definition of global civil societies.
In the current wave of globalization, global governance has become an important phenomenon due to the need to organize the world society as a result of interdependence. The role of the civil society is therefore essential in ensuring that the activities of the governance agencies are effective, accountable and democratic. Bibliography: Anderson, K. and Rieff, D. (2004) ‘“Global Civil Society”: A Skeptical View’, in Anheier, Helmut, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor (2004) (eds. ). Global Civil Society 2004/5. London: Sage. Colas, A. (2002) International Civil Society, Polity Press, Cambridge Fraser, N.
(2005) ‘Reframing Justice in a Globalizing World’, New Left Review, 36; pp. 69-88. Hofmann, J. (2005) “(Trans-) Formations of Civil Society in Global Governance Contexts – Two case studies on the problem of self-organization”, in: Gunnar Folke Schuppert (Hrsg. ): Global Governance and the Role of Non-State Actors, Band 2 der Reihe „Schriften zur Governance-Forschung“, Nomos-Verlag: Baden-Baden Karns, M. & Mingst, K. (2004). International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance, Lynne Rienner, Boulder. Rhodes, R. A. W. (1997) Understanding Governance: Policy Networks, Governance, Reflexivity and Accountability.
Open University Press, Buckingham. Scholte, J. A. (2007). Civil Society and Legitimation of Global Governance. CSGR Working Paper No. 223/07. Scholte, J. A. (2005). Globalization: A Critical Introduction, Palgrave: Basinstoke. Scholte, J. A. (2004). Civil Society and Democratically Accountable Global Governance Government and Opposition Ltd, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK: 9600 Garsington Road, Scholte, J. A. (2002) ‘Civil Society and Democracy in Global Governance’, Global Governance, 8, pp. 281-304. Scholte, J. , O’Brien, R. & Williams, M. (1999) ‘The WTO and Civil Society’, Journal of World
Subject: Global Civil,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 October 2016
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