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To What Extent Has Global Civil Society Impacted on the Behaviour of States in Post-Cold War Era?

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Essay: To what extent has Global Civil Society impacted on the behaviour of states in post-Cold War era?


Global civil society refers to a combination of many groups operating across borders and beyond the reach of the governments. Civil society is seen as a social dimension which is separate from the state and the market. There are many understandings of civil society in the world; however, the widely accepted is that of non-state, nonprofit organizations formed by people in that social sphere. These groups usually come together to advance their common interests through the collective union. In the traditional sense, the civil society includes all organizations occupying the social space between the family and the government, with the exception of political parties and firms. These societies enjoy support and operate in many countries. Global civil society may also refer to the phenomenon of globalization where citizens in one country acting in support of citizens in another.  The sheer heterogeneity of the global civil societies- not for profit organizations, businesses, social movements, academics, tourists, cultural performers, ethnic and linguistic groups makes threaten to make description of global civil society ambiguous (Gunlugu, 2003, p. 302). This however is argued by some scholars that it forms a society with rules. Global civil society is still evolving and open-ended civic sphere whose importance will be determined by the communities to become more democratic, better integrated with the society governance, and invested with universal values. Global civil societies have had a major impact on the behaviour of states in the post cold war era. They had a central role in the shift from the communism to western style democracy in the former Soviet Union. It is also having a big global impact on global movements such as the push for the human rights, the backlash against economic globalization and the rise of environmentalism (Brahm, 2004).

The global civil society has had a tremendous impact in shaping the global affairs. According to former Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel, there is a growing role of the citizens and the global affairs in push the world in a new era.  This is playing a vital role in the collapse of the cold war system and an emergence of a new global ethic which is characterized by enlightment notion of a well organized world, subject to the universal laws and capable of being explained in scientific terms. This is politically manifested in systems, institutions, mechanisms, statistical averages and totalizing ideologies of all kinds. Communism was a model which was trying to align all life parameters in a single model, and subject to it a central planning and control regardless of what life wanted. This was only an attempt by a few propositions to masquerade it as scientific truth. Some countries still subscribe to this school of thought which the global civil society has struggled to fight. The system is still active within many frameworks of the political and economic systems, many institutions and the habits of people minds. However, there is a trend that is emerging around the world which is expressing itself in openness. This voice of the global civil society which needs a sense of the transcendental responsibility, courage and archetypal wisdom in importance of matters that do not aspire to be a universal key to salvation of the society.

The global civil societies are efficient and effective due to their innovative, flexible, independent a responsive nature to the challenges that are faced by the people in the grassroots level. This has continuously made them a very important force in diffusion of problems in the post cold war era. The global civil society in the past decades has developed an increasingly important role and has led them leading a distinctive sector in the civil society around the globe.  Most critically, global civil societies have engaged tirelessly in rehabilitation, education, human rights, peace, health, and development programs in the post war era using funds that are raised from voluntary finance and from donor agencies (Bagci, 2003).  Global civil society expanded greatly in the post cold war era due to factors such as the development of better technologies such as improved air transport, communication through cell phones and internet. This made it possible for the groups to understand the current trends and governance in the post cold war era. This led to greater mobilization of the people and organizations voicing their thoughts to the democratization since the people were becoming enlightened and therefore sought for better governance. Western development and foreign policies have expressed a special interest in strengthening and introducing democratic forms of governance in the post cold war era. The breakdown in the Soviet Union and its brand of authoritarianism in eastern and Central Europe and a resultant weakening of authoritarian systems in many third world countries led to rising of better governance. The global civil society contributed greatly to the new system, given the weakening of the Washington Consensus on economic policy in the 1990s and therefore the World Bank and other key factors rediscovering the important agency of development. Emphasizing on good governance has become fashionable to the civil rights groups, leading to wide advocacy of transparency, accountability, rule of law and other critical elements which were easy to link with democratic rule (Davies, 2008, p. 6). The international powers began noticing the humanitarian emergencies, which brought about the practice of human interventionism (Hippler, 2014).

Another role in which the Global Civil society has played greatly in influencing the behaviour of the post cold war era is its activism on the environmentalism. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, environmental issue has arisen globally where the governments are not able to tackle them in isolation. The problems with the environmental pollution and emission of greenhouse gasses have prompted global civil societies and organizations such as United Nations environmental Program to lobby the governments into conservation of the environment. This has been greatly emphasized through the reduction of the greenhouse emission levels by the industrialist countries such as the USA, Britain, China, Germany and France. The global civil societies have played a critical role as the world becomes under intense pressure in order to prevent the ever rising global temperatures which are resulting to global warming. Since the collapse of communism, capital was seen to have taken a major victory on the economic front, leading to mass production without really caring for the environment.

Global civil peace movements have always tended to arise in times of conflicts and crises. These civil societies have been able to affect the behaviour of governments in averting the dangers of war which is a threat to the society. The genocidal character of nuclear warfare led to the rise of these movements. In the recent past, the global civil society have come up to prevent the Vietnamese war and opposing the development of nuclear weapons.  In the period between 1979-80, these movements arose in a number of west European countries following the NATO decision of introducing the new nuclear systems especially cruise missiles. The peace movements with different agendas came up some of them demanding total freeze due to the tense political atmosphere. The movements were successful in lobby and leading large scale demonstrations and therefore influencing public opinion. These led to delayed implementation, though did not prevent deployment of new missiles in 1984.  



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