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Civil Society Representation

Should CSOs Have a Seat at the Table?

John Garrison's picture

The World Bank has experimented with different approaches to including civil society organizations (CSOs) in its decision-making processes over the years. These have varied from regular policy dialogue with CSOs through the Bank – NGO Committee in the 1980s and 1990s, to establishing CSO advisory committees in several Bank units during the 2000s.  Currently, two of these initiatives stand out: the Bank’s Climate Investment Funds have invited 19 CSO representatives (chosen competitively through online voting) to serve as ‘active observers’ on its five Committees and Sub-Committees; and the Bank’s Health Unit has established a CSO 'consultative group' to which it invited 18 CSO leaders to advise the Bank on its health, nutrition, and population agenda. 

Of Legitimacy and Flash Mobs

Sumir Lal's picture

For those of us committed to democracy and interested in matters of governance and citizen accountability, the theatrics in India involving the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare pose a neat little dilemma. For, we love freely-elected governments and positively swoon over articulate civil society advocates, and here we have a situation where the two are in a head-on collision. So who’s the good guy? Whose side should we be on?

Hazare is pushing an anti-corruption bill that would give immense (possibly corruption-inducing and governance-disrupting) powers to an unelected ombudsman. The government is countering with a version that would keep key functionaries out of the ombudsman’s purview, arguably defeating the very purpose. Take your pick.

Are CSOs Welcome at the World Bank?

John Garrison's picture

This question may have been hard to respond in the affirmative some years back, as Civil Society Organization representatives were still a rare sight at the Bank. It may be hard to believe today, but 20 years ago visiting CSOs had to be physically escorted throughout the buildings, and it was not uncommon for some CSOs to be refused entry.  Today, CSOs are actively welcomed and some even have long-term building passes to facilitate their daily meetings at the Bank.  As a matter of fact, the recently concluded Annual Meetings represented a milestone for CSO presence at the Bank.  Not only was it the largest gathering of CSOs in a Washington-based AMs, but CSO leaders were invited, for the first time, to participate in the official Opening Plenary.