The promotion of democracy goes forward hand in hand with the development of civil society; in fact, many people in the world would consider civil society a necessary precursor to democracy.
Civil society refers broadly to a set of institutions and values that serves as both a buffer and a critical link between the state and individuals; it is manifested when civic and social organizations such as NGO’s can combine efforts to come up with a tangible policy.
While civil society develops most easily in democracies, its development is both possible and desirable in none and pre-democratic states. It is worth to mention that civil society development and capacity building are integrally linked; they are both mutually reinforcing and mutually dependent.
As civil society emerges, moderate networks follow, and the reverse is possible. Some developing countries like Rwanda have come up with efforts to improve on civil society development and this also involves broadening democracy promotion. All programs designed for democracy promotion also promote civil society development.
Recently, Rwanda’s mufti Fazil Harerimana and the minister of internal security urged the Muslim society of Rwanda to be exemplary and engage in activities aimed at developing the nation.
These programs include promoting; economic opportunity, independent and responsible media, environmental protection, protection of minority, gender rights, and access to health care and education.
Civil society development provides an indirect approach to political reform and it fosters the skills and institutions needed in a functioning liberal democracy while minimizing the direct challenge to ruling regimes.
This approach takes a long view, building democracy and liberal values from the grassroots, pull up efforts that pose specific challenges to local and international organizations with in the country.
Like democracy promotion, building civil society operate on all three levels of moderate network building that include; strengthening existing organizations, promoting new ones, and contributing to an environment of moderation that facilitates more focused efforts at the first two levels.
Because civil society itself is based on transparency, dialogue, toleration, and peaceful political advocacy, it can be seen properly as a direct counterweight to extremism and violence.
Moreover, because civil society emphasizes on values over specific political outcomes, its development offers a method of engaging in political reform from the outside with a greatly reduced risk of resistance from intended recipients.
For example, conferences on the promotion and protection of freedom of speech reflect widely shared yearnings that span geographic, linguistic, and cultural boundaries.
Educational reform efforts, scholarships, and student and cultural exchanges all enjoy high degrees of demand and support among policymakers and analysts in part because they are so well received abroad.
Likewise, workshops on the establishment of independent and responsible media resonate with a variety of public services accustomed to state control of the market place of ideas.
In cases where the NGOs and development initiatives already exists, even minimal levels of financial, organizational, and technical support can prove crucial to ensuring their longevity and growth.
In countries where organizations and development network currently function, the convening of like minded individuals and groups can move them to a critical tipping point of mutual awareness and support.
Developed countries like those from the United Kingdom, the United States through its development agency USAID are supportive to schools and educators of moderate values that might otherwise struggle without the mutual support of sympathetic educators.
Because civil society has traditionally been so lacking in the Muslim society, especially those from Arabic countries like the Middle East, the very concept of non-state institutions need bolstering, both in theory and in practice.
Despite its potential advantages, civil society building faces primary obstacles such as active resistance by people and lack of tangible performance measurement.
In addition, civil society building is beset by some of the same performance measurement problems as democracy promotion, perhaps even more so, since there are no outputs that translate well into a representation of the strength of civil society.
Considering these challenges, some see the proper focus of the government efforts to be the provision of tangible social services and other public goods, as this offer more direct manifestations of how the government can improve people’s lives.
Those holding this view consider civil society development to be confined to relatively small circles of elites that aim to satisfy the needs of grant makers and not the societies these individuals represent and whose liberal values do not translate well into combating the more prosaic efforts such as hospitals, schools, and jobs.
Contact: Joseph Murich06@yahoo.co.uk