Global Civil Society

Global civil society

See also:

Resource collections

Web resources on civil society, Union of International Organizations

This page reflects a selection of resources from the UIA’s Yearbook of International Organizations, whether descriptive of particular bodies (Volume 1) or of bibliographical resources (Volume 4), in addition to information from the web. The UIA’s Yearbook is accessible online integrated with databases on both the problems and strategies.

Reference resources | Global civil society | International NGOs | Intergovernmental organizations | University-based projects | Defining civil society | Sectoral concerns with civil society | Foundations with civil society programs | Continental and regional focus | Internet and civil society | Management and training | International meetings on civil society | Assistance to civil society bodies | Uncivil society


Global Civil Society Yearbook

Annual from 2001 onwards from Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics. Includes regular section on quantative approaches to the structure of global civil society by Helmut Anheier and , as well as thematic essays. Hard copy of all editions published by Sage Publications; web versions of older editions contain full articles.

Global Civil Society: An Answer to War, Mary Kaldor, Cambridge: Polity, 2003.

Introducing Global Civil Society, Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor, Global Civil Society 2001, Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor (eds.).

Global Civil Society? John Keane, Global Civil Society 2001, Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor (eds.).

Organisational Forms of Global Civil Society: Implications of Going Public, in Helmut Anheier and Nuno Themudo, Global Civil Society 2002, Marlies Glasius, Mary Kaldor and Helmut Anheier (eds.)

The Idea of Global Civil Society, Mary Kaldor, International Affairs, 79(3):583-593, (2003).

Civil Society and Accountability, Mary Kaldor, Journal of Human Development, 4(1):5-27 (2003).

Global Dislocations, Network Solutions, Francis Pisani and John Arquilla, Nautilus Institute, 2004 Scenarios Workshop, “Who Will Stop Nuclear Next Use?”

Today a third attempt to create global order is under way. It sees in the efficiencies and interconnections fostered by the information revolution the chance to expand free markets and simultaneously to spread democracy. This movement is led by the United States and Britain, where factions of both the right and the left—whatever other differences they might have—agree upon this notion of a prosperous “democratic peace.” And, while both free peoples and free markets are indeed on the rise, so are discontent, displacement and resistance.

Will this latest effort to “homogenize the heterogeneous” prove successful? To answer this question, we will first consider the nature and extent of a whole range of “dislocations” driven by current globalizing initiatives. Then we will assess the prospects for existing state and non-state actors and institutions being able to remedy the situation. Finally, we will consider a network-oriented approach to mitigating some of the problems caused by globalization—an approach that might, in the end, allow for the rise of an interconnected world that still retains its enormous diversity.


Global Civil Society: A Sceptical View, Kenneth Anderson and David Rieff, in Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor (eds.). Global Civil Society 2004/5. London: Sage, 2004.

Anderson and Rieff question global civil society’s claim to represent world opinion. They argue that the hotchpotch of environmental groups, feminist networks and human rights activists who call themselves ‘global civil society’ are no more than ‘a collection of undemocratic and unaccountable ‘social movement missionaries.’

What the hell is “civil society”? Neera Chandhoke, openDemocracy, 17 March 2005.

It seems to me that unless “civil society” is thought of as meaning specifically the public space in which people meet, discuss and engage with politics and public policy, any description of it will tend to look more and more like “society” itself and become indistinguishable from it.

Society can be conceived of as the entirety of social practices in a polity. Civil society can be seen as that part of society where people, as rights-bearing citizens, meet to discuss and enter into dialogue about the polity. It is in this sense that civil society is absolutely indispensable for democracy, in its promise of an engaged citizenry.

There is a further problem. The area of society involved in dialogue, far from becoming more effective in relationship to state power and authority, has withered. Civil society is being asked to bear a much heavier burden than it is able to carry: namely replacing the political party, the traditional mode of representation.

At the heart of the civil society debate is the question of democratic agency. Can “we the people” lead both markets and states towards societies where compassion and cooperation are governing values, as Michael Edwards suggests? I would like to think so. But if the concept of “civil society” is to play a guiding role in this, then it also needs to take a measure of the downsides and the dark sides of democratic life.

Re: Response to Neera Chandhoke’s “What the hell is ‘civil society’?”, Michael Edwards, Forums, openDemocracy, 21 March 2005.

Like Chandhoke, I criticise any conception of civil society that ignores the “dark side” of voluntary associations, relegates the role of the State, politics or parties to the margins, or fails to address the problems of inequality and violence in the public sphere. Recognizing the problems of civil society’s current confusion is the easy part; trying to resolve them by developing some new ideas that tie these threads together is where the hard work starts. After all, there’s no need to wallow in the “dark side”. Unfortunately, Chandhoke ignores this section of my book, but she does go on to cite Paul Hilder’s useful contribution to openDemocracy’s debate on “open politics”, which echoes some of what I also have to say.


Ford Foundation, Civil Society Field Statement , 10 August 2003.

At the Ford Foundation, governance represents the exercise of democratic authority over matters of public concern – equity, security, peace and social justice. In democratic polities, authority derives from structures of the State that protect basic human needs and enforce the rule of law, while legitimacy derives from structures of citizen participation that express collective aspirations and hold public power to account.

Grant making at the Ford Foundation acknowledges this diversity, while sharing a common set of values and principles and a pluralistic approach to governance reform across many different contexts. These principles include:

  • the peaceful resolution of differences within and between societies
  • equal participation and representation in local, national and international politics
  • cooperative and multilateral approaches to political problem solving
  • non-discrimination in the processes and institutions of governance
  • the promotion of synergy between a strong and legitimate State and a strong and inclusive civil society
  • the need to link problems and solutions together at different levels of the world system

The overall goal of PSJ’s [Peace and Social Justice] work in this field is to “promote institutions and practices of governance that are transparent, accountable, responsive and effective in promoting peace and social justice outcomes at all levels of the world system.” Within this overarching goal, the Foundation has identified three sub-goals for its work:

  • To strengthen the institutions and processes of democratic global governance, especially in the areas of international economics, conflict and security
  • To strengthen the democratic reform and reconstruction of national State institutions, especially their capacity to secure peace and social justice outcomes
  • To strengthen the capacity and responsiveness of sub-national governments, especially the involvement of citizens in promoting local government transparency, performance, and accountability.

Structures of civil society: mapping, quantitative and network studies

Mapping Global Civil Society, Part 1, Part 2, Helmut Anheier and Hagai Katz, in  Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor (eds.) Global Civil Society 2001.

Introducing the Global Civil Society Index, Helmut Anheier and Sally Stares, Helmut Anheier and Nuno Themudo, in Marlies Glasius, Mary Kaldor and Helmut Anheier (eds.) Global Civil Society 2002.

Organisational Forms of Global Civil Society: Implications of Going Public, in Helmut Anheier and Nuno Themudo, Global Civil Society 2002, Marlies Glasius, Mary Kaldor and Helmut Anheier (eds.)

Network Approaches to Global Civil Society, Helmut Anheier and Hagai Katz, in Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor (eds.). Global Civil Society 2004/5. London: Sage, 2004.

Maps for Network Approaches to Global Civil Society

  • Map 1: Economic globalisation – Trade, foreign direct investment, top 100 transnational corporations, and development aidMap 2: International rule of law – The ‘dark side’ of globalisation: corruption, trafficking in persons, and refugeesMap 3: International rule of law – Voice & accountability, civil liberties & political rights, ratification of international treaties, and peacekeeping missionsMap 4: International organisations & meetings – NGO secretariats in countries & cities, membership in INGOs, and meetings of international organisations, social fora & parallel summits
Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
17 May 2008