Definition of Civil Society:
Civil society is the aggregate of all associations, organization, movements and individual citizens independent from the state that manifest interests and will of citizens and aim to transform policies, standards or social structures through collective efforts at a national or international level.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) uses the term “civil society organization” to refer to the wide range of citizens’ associations that exists in virtually all countries to provide benefits, services, or political influence to specific groups within society.
What does it include?
It includes business forums, faith-based associations, labor unions, local community groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), philanthropic foundations, and think tanks.
What is excluded?
Branches of government (government agencies and legislators), individual businesses, political parties, and the media are usually excluded.
UN recognizes a number of different types of civil society
- Mass Organization: Formal organization that represent the interest of particular population group. For example, women organization, organization for elderly and disabled people, farmers associations etc.
- Trade unions and other trade related organizations
- Faith based organization- mostly membership based religious organization
- Academic organization- communities of scholars, researchers and other intellectuals
- Public benefit-nongovernmental organization (NGO, NPO) involved in environmental or developmental volunteering, safeguarding human right issues, disarmament, consumer safety, anti-corruption values, corporate ethics etc for example save the children and transparency international etc
- Social movements and campaign network – mass and loose association of people who shares common experiences and work together to achieve common goal. For example, anti-globalization movement, feminist movement etc.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) translates to Doctors without Borders, provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. It is an international, independent, medical, humanitarian organization. Find out the role of MSF in improving the lives of the people around the world.
Greenpeace has been campaigning against environmental degradation since it was founded in 1971. It is an independent campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and develop solutions for a green and peaceful future. Find out more about the role Greenpeace in promoting international mindedness and in global interactions.