Wednesday, 26 April 2017

UN in your language

UNRIC Library Backgrounder: Civil Society

 altPDF version

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)

 UN Entities

Selected Statements and Speeches by UN Officials
  • Strengths of all humanitarian actors must be utilized, Secretary-General says, at Norway Forum on role of civil society (SG/SM/16912-IHA/1371, 6 July 2015):
  • Power of ‘creative collaboration’ vital to realizing promise of Post-2015 Development Agenda, Secretary-General tells civil society group (SG/SM/16667-NGO/807, 15 April 2015):
  • Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs - Opening Remarks Civil Society Forum to the 52nd session of the Commission for Social Development; Theme: The Role of Civil Society: Empowerment for Inclusive and Transformative Development (10 February 2014):
  • Deputy Secretary-General, at Interactive Briefing, says he counts on civil society to work alongside governments in advancing future development agenda (DSG/SM/744-DEV/3066, 6 February 2014):
  • At High-level Event in Support of Civil Society, Secretary-general says ‘they protect our rights; they deserve their rights’ (SG/SM/15314, 23 September 2013):
  • The High Level Event on Supporting Civil Society : “Sounding the Alarm: emerging threats to civil society and the need for a coordinated international response” / by Maina Kiai, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, and of association (New York,23 September 2013):
  • Secretary-General, opening Global Compact Summit, calls on business, civil society, government leaders to be architects of sustainable future (SG/SM/15300-ECO/229, 20 September 2013):

Selected UN documents
  • A/61/817 (18 Apr. 2007) : Declaration and Plan of Action of the International Civil Society Forum for Democracy on the Occasion of the Sixth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies :
  • A/59/354 (13 September 2004) : Report of the Secretary-General in response to the report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations-Civil Society Relations :
  • 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 Relation (Cardoso Report) : and
  • A/57/118 (27 June 2002) : Report of the Joint Inspection Unit on the involvement of civil society organizations other than non-governmental organizations and the private sector in technical cooperation activities : experiences and prospects of the United Nations system : and

  • UN documents on the subject “Civil Society” – click here

Selected Documents & Publications available online

June 2016
not an official document - for information only