Category: Introduction. civil society on the edge: actions in support and

The judgement reaffirmed the legitimate and critical role civil society has to play to ensure that democracy in India thrives, including through political action.

The court has clearly pronounced that political work as defined for democracy and rights is legitimate. With far reaching consequences, the judgement upholds the right of civil society to undertake political work and action.

At the heart of this is the distinction between political action for political power on the one hand; and political action for furthering rights, development, human dignity, constitutional values, and democracy, on the other. It is noteworthy that this judgement is in relation to FCRA and foreign funds for civil society, an issue that is considered extremely sensitive, particularly in a post-colonial context.

It can, therefore, be safely deduced that domestically funded civil society would have greater latitude for political action. Related article: It is time to revisit how civil society engages with politics. Barring a few notes of welcome, much of civil society remained rather muted, which begs a few questions: Was the hard-fought case by INSAF in vain?

Were the importance and ramifications of the judgement not clear? Or, are we indifferent to the fundamental question of our role in politics? It saw people getting brutalised, maimed, and killed in communal frenzy. Majoritarian politics had pushed the city into an abyss from which retrieving compassion, humanity, and human dignity seemed impossible. Delhi is considered to be the epicentre of civil society organisations, networks, campaigns, and movements.

It certainly claims to represent the diversity and strength of civil society across the country. However, barring a few individuals and organisations, such proximity to the ground of this communal violence did not lead civil society organisations to respond to the situation on the ground, nor take a strong position in favour of secular politics and compassionate coexistence.

Why did organisations shy away from coming out openly and putting their weight and resources behind rights, justice, and dignity for all? A quick look at the vision and mission of most of the civil society groups indicates their foundational commitment to development, rights, justice, dignity, secularism, and compassion. In other words, a vision and mission rooted in a deeply political world view.

In spite of these clearly stated commitments, if organisations did not act, we need to explore the reasons behind this. In the current historic juncture, where socio-economic and political forces are challenging our notions of democracy, world views, and values so well-articulated in the preamble of the Indian Constitution, it is imperative for civil society to engage with the question of our own depoliticisation, if we have to remain relevant in the future of a dramatically changing world.

There will always be a large segment of civil society doing charitable work. They are much needed in a country like India which continues to see endemic and extreme poverty, diseases, and large populations without basic human needs. However, another large part of civil society is, by definition, engaged in political processes for building just, peaceful, humane, and sustainable futures.

In great measure, their primary engagement is with the question of uneven and unjust distribution of power, and its consequences on individuals and societies. The result of this fundamental contradiction is mission drift, loss of commitment by the staff, and the diminishing credibility of the sector. Picture courtesy: Unsplash. Some of these organisations ended up with large assets—including land, training centres, large numbers of paid staff, and big projects.

This inspired smaller organisations to graduate from being individual or voluntary initiatives to structured entities. As these entities developed interests in sustaining their organisations, their ability to question the powerful became compromised. Their ability to politically challenge state power and its vested interests diminished, compounded by a restrictive and harsh regulatory framework for civil society. When contesting power—which is inevitable in the pursuit of justice and dignity for the marginalised and excluded—these civil society groups had to take up apolitical positions to ensure that their organisational stability was not jeopardised.

If organisations were funded by foreign sources, they were even more vulnerable as foreign interest is seen with suspicion in the political arena. It soon became the learnt behaviour for organisations to ask political questions, but refrain from pursuing them if those in power might be challenged, and retaliate.

introduction. civil society on the edge: actions in support and

These organisations and a very large section of civil society stopped acknowledging the fact that change, particularly change in favour of the underprivileged and excluded groups, usually comes at a cost. As a result, their role gradually shrunk to identifying, analysing, and articulating the issues and demands of the poor and marginalised.Civil disobediencealso called passive resistancethe refusal to obey the demands or commands of a government or occupying power, without resorting to violence or active measures of opposition; its usual purpose is to force concessions from the government or occupying power.

Civil disobedience has been a major tactic and philosophy of nationalist movements in Africa and India, in the American civil rights movementand of labour, anti-war, and other social movements in many countries. Civil disobedience is a symbolic or ritualistic violation of the law rather than a rejection of the system as a whole.

The civil disobedient, finding legitimate avenues of change blocked or nonexistent, feels obligated by a higher, extralegal principle to break some specific law. It is because acts associated with civil disobedience are considered crimeshowever, and known by actor and public alike to be punishable, that such acts serve as a protest.

By submitting to punishmentthe civil disobedient hopes to set a moral example that will provoke the majority or the government into effecting meaningful political, social, or economic change. Under the imperative of setting a moral example, leaders of civil disobedience insist that the illegal actions be nonviolent. A variety of criticisms have been directed against the philosophy and practice of civil disobedience.

introduction. civil society on the edge: actions in support and

The radical critique of the philosophy of civil disobedience condemns its acceptance of the existing political structure; conservative schools of thought, on the other hand, see the logical extension of civil disobedience as anarchy and the right of individuals to break any law they choose, at any time. Activists themselves are divided in interpreting civil disobedience either as a total philosophy of social change or as merely a tactic to be employed when the movement lacks other means.

On a pragmatic level, the efficacy of civil disobedience hinges on the adherence of the opposition to a certain morality to which an appeal can ultimately be made. The philosophical roots of civil disobedience lie deep in Western thought: CiceroThomas AquinasJohn LockeThomas Jeffersonand Henry David Thoreau all sought to justify conduct by virtue of its harmony with some antecedent superhuman moral law.

The modern concept of civil disobedience was most clearly formulated by Mahatma Gandhi. Drawing from Eastern and Western thought, Gandhi developed the philosophy of satyagrahawhich emphasizes nonviolent resistance to evil. First in the Transvaal of South Africa in and later in India, via such actions as the Salt MarchGandhi sought to obtain equal rights and freedom through satyagraha campaigns.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil disobedience. Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription.

Subscribe today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Lutheran theology stressed obedience to government as a Christian duty and did not, as did Reformed theology, produce a fully developed doctrine of resistance against tyrannical governments.

The role of civil society and community in health policy-making

Luther advocated resistance only if the preaching of the Gospel was in jeopardy. This principle was first put to the test…. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Dayevery day in your inbox!Over the past decade, thousands of programmes and projects around the world have worked to open data and use it to address a myriad of social and economic challenges. The editors would like to thank the International Development Research Centre IDRC for its support of the State of Open Data project from inception to conclusion, without which this publication would not have been possible.

By taking stock of the current state of open data, this book acts as a key resource and charts a course for future action to keep open data on track as a transformative tool of more open, collaborative, innovative, and participatory governance.

introduction. civil society on the edge: actions in support and

A decade ago, open data was more or less just an idea, emerging as a rough point of consensus for action among pro-democracy practitioners, internet entrepreneurs, open source advocates, civic technology developers, and open knowledge campaigners.

Ten years on, open data is much more than an idea. There are new challenges, but also new opportunities. In this concluding chapter, we contemplate the impact that open data has had in addressing these challenges, reflect on the current strengths and weaknesses of the open data movement, and set out a series of recommendations with the goal of strengthening the future contribution of open data to sustainable and democratic development.

State of Open Data. State of Open Data Histories and Horizons. Read more. Acknowledgements About the editors. Open Data Sectors and Communities The chapters in this section explore 16 different sectors and communities where open data has been applied.

Issues in Open Data Section Introduction. Issues in Open Data The chapters in this section address a number of cross-cutting issues that shape the current state of open data. Open Data Stakeholders Section Introduction. Open Data Stakeholders The chapters in this section explore the various roles of the major stakeholders that have shaped the development of the open data ecosystem. Open Data Around the World The chapters in this section look at open data in different regions of the world.It comprises civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Here are some useful websites for members of civil society and also for those interested in the work of the UN. Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council provides NGOs with access to not only ECOSOC, but also to its many subsidiary bodies, to the various human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, ad-hoc processes on small arms, as well as special events organized by the President of the General Assembly. The Civil Society Unit of the UN Department of Global Communications formerly DPI is the link from the Organization to the approximately 1, Non-governmental Organizations NGOs that are associated with the UN and support its efforts to disseminate information on the priority issues on its agenda, including sustainable development, creating a safer and more secure world, helping countries in transition, empowering women and young people, and addressing poverty, among others.

The United Nations Democracy Fund UNDEF was built to support projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes. The large majority of UNDEF funds go to local civil society organizations -- both in the transition and the consolidation phases of democratization.

introduction. civil society on the edge: actions in support and

The Integrated Civil Society Organizations System provides online registration of general profiles for civil society organizations, including address, contacts, activities and meeting participation.

Academic Impact is a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in actively supporting ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, literacy, sustainability and conflict resolution.

Its mission is to contribute, through collaborative research and education, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations, its peoples and Member States. Welcome to the United Nations. Toggle navigation Language:. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J.

Apply for consultative status with ECOSOC Association with DGC The Civil Society Unit of the UN Department of Global Communications formerly DPI is the link from the Organization to the approximately 1, Non-governmental Organizations NGOs that are associated with the UN and support its efforts to disseminate information on the priority issues on its agenda, including sustainable development, creating a safer and more secure world, helping countries in transition, empowering women and young people, and addressing poverty, among others.

The Integrated Civil Society Organizations iCSO System The Integrated Civil Society Organizations System provides online registration of general profiles for civil society organizations, including address, contacts, activities and meeting participation. Academic Impact Academic Impact is a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in actively supporting ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, literacy, sustainability and conflict resolution.

Resources for different audiences.The global civil society ecosystem can be characterized as a complex and interconnected network of individuals and groups drawn from rich histories of associational relationships and interactions.

Globally, the concept of civil society has evolved from these associational platforms to comprise a wide range of organized and organic groups of different forms, sizes, and functions.

There have been significant changes over time in the civil society landscape. Consequently, defining civil society is not a simple task. Inasmuch as there is evidence of similar experiences across continents and regions, countries, and more specifically, groups that share similar cultural values and attributes within a country, have some distinct forms of social organization, cultural and political traditions, as well as contemporary economic structures.

Numerous academics and practitioners have proffered definitions for civil society based on their research and experiences. This definition has been widely accepted and utilized within various platforms. However, it is critical that the definition of civil society represents its current evolution, nuances, and growing diversity. Civil society within this context comprises qualities associated with goals, relationships, contextual experiences, values, and informal and formal structures.

In recent times, the different typologies of civil society are:. Globally, civil society groups have been active in addressing social problems; however, the effectiveness of civil society in bringing about real change has been called into question due to varying factors, including increasing public distrust and uncertainty about their relevance and legitimacy. Also, a popular but disquieting trend has been the introduction of legislative and administrative policies by governments that stifle civil society operations.

In addition, especially for civil society based in the global south, dwindling donor funding and shifting priorities driven by foreign policy considerations pose a threat to their sustainability. Civil society organizations also face questions about their relevance, legitimacy, and accountability from governments and their primary beneficiaries due to a widening gap between the sector and government officials, on the one hand, and between their purported beneficiaries or constituents on the other.

Many governments have increasingly become more emboldened and sophisticated in their efforts to limit the operating space for CSOs, especially democracy and human rights organizations. A vivid example of the growing adversarial relationship between governments and human rights organizations is the widespread establishment of government-organized nongovernmental organizations GONGOs to infiltrate and gather information on the human rights community.

This situation has made a significant number of human rights, humanitarian, training, and grassroots organizations dedicated to representing and ensuring the rights of citizens reluctant to engage and collaborate with governments. A significant number of organizations have failed in upholding their mandates in the face of adversity.

The focus of these organizations becomes survival rather than fulfilling their missions. Also, global shifts in donor funding and withdrawals have adversely affected the ability of some organizations to continue to operate and exist. There is also a growing perception that CSOs have generally deviated from their initial mandate of promoting the rights of citizens, demanding for good governance, accountability and transparency from government.

Though the gap between the people and organized CSOs keeps widening, new actors in the sector—such as social movements, online activists, bloggers, and other social media users—are bridging the divide through their mode of engagement, tools, and approaches, which have democratized the advocacy space. In addition, the challenge is for the two main actors, traditional organized civil society and the trendy and loosely formed organic actors, to identify means of collaboration and focus on comparative advantages.

Both actors need to analyze the rapid changes taking place within civil society and the development landscape and subsequently adapt their approaches, tools, and capacities. Within the context of the current global political and socioeconomic climate, what is civil society sustainability? This is what this section will attempt to define. This means that there is no recognized universal definition of civil society sustainability but contextual definitions drawn from its applicability in a specific environment.

Social Responsibility and Ethics

It can better be understood by description rather than definition. It is largely a process, although it can equally be a goal in its own right and entails more than just availability of funds. It is also a broader and holistic concept, which goes beyond survival toward thriving, resilience, autonomy, independence, and continuous functioning. The four dimensions are: financial the continuous availability of financial resourcesoperational capacity, technical resources, and administrative structures to operate programsidentity long-term existence of organizations themselvesand interventions results and impact of specific projects after their completion or funding terminates.

In addition, the annual CSO sustainability index conducted by USAID is based on an assessment of legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy capacity, service provision, infrastructure, and public image and reputation. However, these dimensions may not be a sufficient explanation and representation of the factors that influence the sustainability of the various groups within the civil society ecosystem.

These policies and practices are often designed to provide short-term grant support and very minimal long-term core funding. Therefore, it would be imperative to construct a definition that encompasses both the internal controllable dimensions and the external influences that impinge on the level of sustainability of the sector.

Developing a more holistic definition will set the basis for more comprehensive and meaningful research on the future operations and resourcing of civil society. The above illustration is an attempt to visually convey a holistic representation of the various factors influencing the sustainability of civil society and their various interactions. The most immediate factors are governance and leadership operations ; resources material, financial, and technical ; relevance, legitimacy, and accountability identity and representation ; and intervention scalability and reliability societal impact.

The external factors are the nature of civic space open, closing, or closedlegal and regulatory policies enabling or restrictiveand foreign policy national priorities and global geopolitical positions. Drawing from these factors, the researcher is proposing the following working definition for civil society sustainability.The COVID pandemic has upended the plans of governments, businesses and households around the world.

The same is true for civil society organizations, including our global network of groups committed to budget-related advocacy. Ways of working have had to shift, and all of us have seen sudden adjustments in government fiscal and monetary policies that require us to rethink our focus.

Our partners have demonstrated a nimble response to the twin health and economic crises. Transparency of relief funds. While many governments have introduced new or expanded policies to support the economy broadly, as well as programs for those living in poverty, small businesses and so on, they typically have not offered substantial detail on how these programs are supposed to work, how they target the intended beneficiaries or how they are to be financed.

In some cases, new, off-budget funds are being set up such as in India and Kenyabut the flow of resources in and out is opaque. Partners have responded by demanding greater transparency and attempting to share information themselves.

In Indonesia, a civil society coalition—including the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency, Indonesian Corruption Watch, Transparency International Indonesia and Indonesia Budget Center— explained in a public policy brief the need for a comprehensive and unified response to the pandemic that guarantees transparency and accountability in the use of public resources. In Nigeria, BudgIT created the CovidFundTrackaa website that lists donations given to the federal and state governments by both private and public organizations.

More inclusive government responses. While many governments have introduced policies targeting the vulnerable, these are either seen as inadequate or they have not been fully implemented. Partners have highlighted the special needs of different groups, requested new or improved policies to address them, and tried to involve vulnerable groups in oversight.

Expanded and properly targeted income support. There is widespread advocacy by partners to either expand existing cash-transfer schemes, better implement them or introduce new ones. In some cases, there is already a push for these programs to be converted into permanent basic-income programs.

More progressive tax systems. A number of partners are advocating for wealth taxes or enhanced income taxes to help pay for the cost of programs. Some partners have also called for tax relief for lower- and middle-income groups and small businesses. Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.This article examines the history of the ideas of civil society. It explains that Greek and Roman thinkers began talking about civil society as part of a more general attempt to establish a geometry of human relations.

They considered civility as an orientation toward the common good and the requirements of effective citizenship rather than as a matter of domestic relations or good manners and a recognition that life is lived in different spheres that have their own internal logic. It suggests that the roots of the contemporary interest in civil society lie in the contention of some dissident East European intellectuals during the s that communism's crisis could only be understood as a revolt of civil society against the state.

Keywords: civil societyideashuman relationsGreek thinkersRoman thinkerscivilitycommon goodEast European intellectualscommunism. Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription. Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

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Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice. Oxford Handbooks Online. Publications Pages Publications Pages. The History of Civil Society Ideas. The Oxford Handbook of Civil Society. Read More. Subscriber sign in You could not be signed in, please check and try again.

Username Please enter your Username. Password Please enter your Password. Forgot password? Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution. You could not be signed in, please check and try again. Sign in with your library card Please enter your library card number. Search within In This Article 1. Civil Society as the Organized Commonwealth 2. The Transition to Modernity 3. Beyond Civil Society 5.

Civil Society and Associations References. Abstract and Keywords This article examines the history of the ideas of civil society.

The role of civil society and community in health policy-making

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