Civil society. Refers to the associations of citizens (outside their families, friends and businesses) entered into voluntarily to advance their interests, ideas and ideologies. The term does not include profit-making activity (the private sector) or governing (the public sector). Of particular relevance to the United Nations are mass organizations (such as organizations of peasants, women or retired people), trade unions, professional associations, social movements, indigenous people’s organizations, religious and spiritual organizations, academe and public benefit non-governmental organizations.
A/58/817, 11 June 2004: We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and global governance (Report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations (Glossary, page 13)
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