Civil Society in Fragile and Conflict-affected States
By 2015, half the world’s poor will live in fragile states. Their prospects for peace and development depend not only on building accountable governments, but also a vibrant civil society – that can raise the voices of all citizens, particularly the most vulnerable, and hold the state to account for its performance in reducing poverty and upholding all human rights.
This note is about how external governments and international institutions must do more to build that civil society – through aid and technical assistance, and diplomatic influence, particularly where civil society space is threatened by repressive legislation or other restrictions. They should:
1. Help influence the state to:
• Build and protect the ‘space’ for civil society;
• Genuinely engage civil society organisations (CSOs).
2. Strengthen CSOs’ relationship with citizens and with the state, in order to:
• Genuinely represent communities and constituencies, including women and women’s rights organisations and all vulnerable groups;
• Help make the state both more effective and accountable, in delivering pro-poor development and all human rights.