Publication: The Role of Civic Engagement and Social Accountability in the Governance Equation

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World Bank
There is a fundamental misunderstanding regarding the role of civic engagement in development. Oftentimes, engagement is perceived as existing in the absence of a robust state. In addition, it is also often held that the presence of a strong state reduces the space for and scope of civic engagement. However, the existence of a healthy and active civil society does not preclude the existence of a robust state, and vice versa. In cases where states are weak, or have failed, and are experiencing conditions of widespread conflict and social ungovernability, civil society organizations usually offer the institutional basis for public service delivery and, in many cases, they contribute to conflict resolution and reconciliation efforts. Conversely, there is substantial evidence than an effective and sound public sector depends very much on the existence of a dynamic civil society and strong citizen involvement in the public realm. Such involvement can manifest itself in participatory engagement in policy formulation and monitoring that brings transparency and effectiveness to public institutions. States with the capacity to enforce the rule of law, set clear rules of engagement for civil society and promote sound public policy have proven to supply an appropriate environment for civic engagement.
World Bank. 2003. The Role of Civic Engagement and Social Accountability in the Governance Equation. Social Development Notes; No. 75. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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