Global Citizen Action

Global Citizen Action

Global Citizen Action

Global Citizen Action

Synopsis

Less than ten years ago, there was little talk of civil society in the corridors of power. But now, the walls reverberate to the sound of global citizen action—and difficult questions about the phenomenon abound. This book presents the cutting edge of contemporary thinking about nonstate participation in the international system.

Against the background of the changing global context, the authors present case studies of the most significant social movements and NGO networks influencing the course of world politics today. Their timely analysis encompasses the differing and conflicting interests and agendas associated with "civil society," shedding needed light on the forces that will determine the future of global governance.

Excerpt

Ten years ago, there was little talk of civil society in the corridors of power, but now the walls reverberate with at least the rhetoric of partnership, participation, and the role of citizens' groups in promoting sustainable development. Though poorly understood and imperfectly applied in practice, concepts like the “new diplomacy, ” “soft power, ” and “complex multilateralism” place civil society at the center of international policy debates and global problemsolving (Edwards 1999). This radical change in international relations bodes well for our common future, but it is also a highly contested debate in which questions abound and answers are in short supply. in reality, civil society is an arena, not a thing, and although it is often seen as the key to future progressive politics, this arena contains different and conflicting interests and agendas (Scholte 1999). For their part, global institutions are still the prisoners of a state-based system of international negotiation and find it exceptionally difficult to open up to nonstate participation at any meaningful level. We may dream of a global community, but we don't yet live in one, and too often, global governance means a system in which only the strong are represented and only the weak are punished. Resolving these deficiencies is the essential task of the twenty-first century. This volume brings together a diverse group of scholars and practitioners to reflect on the lessons of recent social movements and the challenges that lie ahead. This introduction provides a short analysis of the changing global context as well as a conceptual framework for the case studies that follow and an overview of their contents and conclusions.

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