Definitions of civil society are rooted in recognizing the diversity of actors, their expertise, focus of work, and unique contributions of those who work at a local, national, regional and international level to advance particular social causes.
Civil society is an enormously diverse group of actors: human rights defenders, non-profit organizations, bar associations, trade unions, student clubs, university institutes, individual activists, and so much more.
Their human-centric approach and commitment to their work often connects through: promoting and protecting human rights, advocating for communities they belong to or serve, advancing peace, justice and security, and even resolving conflict.
When civil society is able to do their work freely and independently, with the support of reliable partners, including government, it contributes to the collective goals of: protecting and sustaining peace, creating community development opportunities, upholding human rights, and more.
What we mean when we say "civil society."
It's just humans coming together to advance their shared interests, whether material, political, or ideological. Civil society is effectively the manifestation of our collective efforts to engage in society and make our world a better place.
Senior Legal Advisor, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law