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Critical Mass

The Emergence of Global Civil Society

James W. St. G. Walker

Publication Year: 2008

Public concern about inequitable economic globalization has revealed the demand for citizen participation in global decision making. Civil society organizations have taken up the challenge, holding governments and corporations accountable for their decisions and actions, and developing collaborative solutions to the dominant problems of our time. Critical Mass: The Emergence of Global Civil Society offers a unique mixture of experience and analysis by the leaders of some of the most influential global civil society organizations and respected academics who specialize in this field of study.

Co-published with the Centre for International Governance Innovation

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Studies in International Governance


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List of Acronyms

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pp. 8-11


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pp. xiii-xiv

Critical Mass: The Emergence of Global Civil Society is one of the outcomes of a conference that took place October 17-19, 2006, in which academics, international civil servants, and civil society activists met at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Canada, to discuss the feasibility of a proposal to establish a new venue or entity whose primary purpose would be to enhance global civil society input within international...

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pp. xv-xxviii

"Think globally, act locally" was a popular slogan some thirty years ago, meant to arouse concern and inspire participation. Today we have discovered that global is local, and the consequences can sometimes seem threatening. For many citizens of the early twenty-first century, the concept of "globalization" is discouraging rather than inspirational...


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1. The Globalization of Civil Society

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pp. 3-24

The history of democracy has been about the evolution of mechanisms by which citizens play a role in shaping government policies and holding officials to account. The efficacy of democratic tools, therefore, can be judged by the degree to which they shorten the gulf between citizens and the decisions that affect them...

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2. Approaching Global Civil Society

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pp. 54-40

In the last week of January 2001, two distinctively global meetings took place that were closely linked but at the same time worlds apart. One meeting was the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the gathering place of some two thousand political leaders and captains of industry from all over the globe; the other meeting was the World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the rallying point for some fifteen...


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3 The Conference of NGOs (CONGO): The Story of Strengthening Civil Society Engagement with the United Nations

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pp. 43-74

The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO) was founded in 1948 to safeguard the rights of NGOs in consultative status based upon article 71 of the UN Charter, which provides that the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) "May make suitable arrangements for consultation with NGOs which are concerned...

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4. Amplifying Voices from the Global South: Globalizing Civil Society

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pp. 75-88

The twenty-first-century world is a world with porous boundaries, where very little remains limited within the national or local frame. Local issues and priorities, like that of water and sanitation, are no longer local but are determined by global policies and priorities. Our goals of development are no longer ours, but instead are clearly outlined for us by multilateral institutions in the form of Millennium Development Goals...

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5. Facilitating NGO Participation: An Assessment of Canadian Government-Sponsored Mechanisms for the Copenhagen Summit for Social Development and the Beijing Conference on Women

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pp. 89-110

Democratic global governance requires that the voices of civil society be heard at all levels-the local, subnational, national, regional, multilateral, and international. The term "civil society refers to those engaged in activities that "involve no quest for public office...

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6. The Arab NGO Network for Development: A Case Study on Interaction between Emerging Regional Networking and Global Civil Society

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pp. 111-128

With the rise of the debates and studies around global civil society, certain basic assumptions have been made to explain this phenomenon, which is becoming influential but also controversial. Many have described the formation, role, and impact of this global force and aim to explore...

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7. A Case of NGO Participation: International Criminal Court Negotiations

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pp. 129-152

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are a growing force in the global dynamic. Several recent instances have demonstrated the power NGOs have to influence the course of events and the value of their contributions to multilateral treaty negotiations...

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8. Influencing the IMF

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pp. 153-168

NGOs have long reviled the International Monetary Fund (IMF or Fund). It was initially designed in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference to assist member countries with short-term trade imbalances, but in the 1980s that role was no longer needed by the global financial community...

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9. Civil Society, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Conflict Prevention

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pp. 169-182

In 2000, three prominent NGOs published a ground-breaking report on The Business of Peace: The Private Sector as a Partner in Conflict Prevention. It laid out the case for business to be more interested and engaged in promoting peaceful resolution of violent conflict in their areas of operation...

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10. The FIM G8 Project, 2002-2006: A Case Analysis of a Project to Initiate Civil Society Engagement with the G8

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pp. 183-210

The Montreal International Forum (FIM) was established in 1998 in Montreal as a global alliance of individuals and organizations with the goal of improving the influence of international civil society on the United Nations and the multilateral system. FIM believes that the stated goals...


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11. Laying the Groundwork: Considerations for a Charter for a Proposed Global Civil Society Forum

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pp. 213-230

Since the end of the Cold War, "global civil society" has become increasingly engaged in issues of international governance. To many observers, including some government officials, the very presence of literally thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations...

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12. Looking to the Future: A Global Civil Society Forum?

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pp. 231-250

Preceding chapters in this book have richly described and interrogated the emergence of a global civil society. Citizen action groups that seek, from outside political parties, to shape the rules governing society have over the past half-century acquired far more pronounced...

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13. Democratizing Global Governance: Achieving Goals while Aspiring to Free and Equal Communication

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pp. 251-280

In the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet system, in the triumphalism of a "new world order" and of the "end of history," there was widespread confidence that there could be a universally applicable set of economic policies. Open frontiers, low government deficits, low tariffs, and privatization were regarded as equally appropriate to post-Soviet societies...

Notes on the Contributors

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pp. 281-288


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pp. 289-301

E-ISBN-13: 9781554581405
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554580224
Print-ISBN-10: 1554580226

Page Count: 330
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Studies in International Governance
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OCLC Number: 568535526
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Critical Mass

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Civil society -- Case studies.
  • Civil society -- Congresses.
  • World citizenship.
  • Political participation.
  • Civil society.
  • Globalization.
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