Civil Society and Global Governance: Advancing Citizen Participation in Global Politics
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Warwick
Unit of AssessmentPolitics and International Studies
Summary Impact TypePolitical
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Political Science
Law and Legal Studies: Law
Summary of the impact
Global rules and regulatory institutions have major and ever-growing
importance in contemporary governance. However, connections between global
governance and citizens are often weak, compromising effectiveness and
legitimacy. Civil society organisations (CSOs - including Non-
Governmental Organisations, business forums, trade unions, think tanks and
social movements) offer major potential to link global governance
institutions (GGIs) with affected publics. Professor Scholte's sustained
programme of research in this area, and related provision of resources and
training to international beneficiaries such as the International Monetary
Fund (IMF), has had significant social impact in raising both the quantity
and the quality of GGI-CSO relations.
Scholte's research on civil society and global governance spans two
decades. Relevant projects include `Global Economic Institutions and
Global Social Movements' (1996-9), `Civil Society and Global Finance'
(1999-2002), `Civil Society and Democracy in Global Economic Governance'
(2001-5), `Civil Society and Accountable Global Governance' (2006-10),
`Civil Society and the International Monetary Fund: Progress towards
Global Accountability?' (2007-9), `Building Global Democracy' (2008-12)
and `Explorations in Global Democracy' (2012-13). Scholte has been sole
Principal Investigator (PI) in the last five projects and joint PI in the
first two. The 6 outputs listed in Section 3 are a selection of the 7
books, 14 articles, 22 book chapters and 8 policy reports that Scholte has
written on the subject since 1998.
The underpinning research has involved extensive fieldwork, including
Scholte's personal interviews with over 900 officials and activists in 34
countries on 6 continents. The main GGIs addressed include the IMF, the
World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with secondary
attention to the Commonwealth, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers (ICANN) and several United Nations (UN) agencies. The hundreds
of participating CSOs range from well-known bodies such as Oxfam to highly
marginalised constituencies such as indigenous peoples associations in
One important result of this research has been to identify where civil
society is and is not engaged with global governance. Comparatively, some
CSOs and some GGIs pursue more mutual connections than others. The
research has ascribed these differences in levels of interaction to
several conditions of the actors involved, including competences,
resources, incentives, policymaking procedures and institutional cultures.
In addition, a heritage of state-centric world order has often militated
against greater GGI-CSO relations, while other deeper structural forces
related to capitalist production and modern-rationalist knowledge have
shaped the relative levels of access to global governance for different
kinds of CSOs.
Scholte's research has also demonstrated significant benefits from civil
society to global governance, so that increases in the quantity and
quality of GGI-CSO interchanges are worth pursuing. In particular, the
findings of his research suggest that CSOs can: (a) contribute information
and advice not available from official sources; (b) raise important
alternative issues and perspectives; (c) cultivate sensitivity to context
and suitable policy adaptations in this regard; (d) sharpen policy
analysis with challenges and debate; (e) provide pressure for the adoption
and implementation of needed policies; and (f) bolster the accountability
and legitimacy of global governance. To help realise such potential,
Scholte's research has diagnosed various aspects of process that affect
the quality of GGI-CSO interaction. The preparation, execution and
follow-up of dialogue have often been wanting. Shortcomings related to
timing, participation, substance and style of interchanges frequently
detract from their outcomes. More recently, Scholte's findings have
highlighted issues of accountability in GGI-CSO relations. A study he
coordinated of 13 global governance mechanisms showed that CSOs can
significantly increase transparency, consultation, monitoring and redress
in respect of GGIs. However, much more could be achieved and the research
has elaborated suggestions for improvement in respect of personal
qualities, institutional conditions and deeper structures of world order.
References to the research
1. J.A. Scholte (2012) `A More Inclusive Global Governance? The IMF and
Civil Society in Africa', Global Governance, 18(2), pp. 185-206. [2012
impact factor: 0.617]. Peer-reviewed journal article.
2. J.A. Scholte (2011) (ed.), Building Global Democracy? Civil
Society and Accountable Global Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. Peer-reviewed edited volume.
3. J.A. Scholte (2000 and 2005) Globalization: A Critical
Introduction. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2,506
Google Scholar citations (July 2013). Peer-reviewed research
4. J.A. Scholte (2004) `Civil Society and Democratically Accountable
Global Governance', Government and Opposition, 39(2), pp. 211-33.
[2012 impact factor: 0.8]. 214 Google Scholar citations
(July 2013). Peer-reviewed journal article.
5. J.A. Scholte (2002) `Civil Society and Democracy in Global
Governance', Global Governance, 8(3), pp. 281-304. [2012
impact factor: 0.617]. 287 Google Scholar citations 258
(July 2013). Peer-reviewed journal article.
6. R. O'Brien, A. Goetz, J.A. Scholte and M. Williams (2000) Contesting
Global Governance: Multilateral Economic Institutions and Global Social
Movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 990 Google
Scholar citations (July 2013). Peer-reviewed co-authored volume.
1. J.A. Scholte, `Explorations in Global Democracy', Centre for Global
Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg-Essen, 2012-13, €84,143.
2. J.A. Scholte, `Building Global Democracy', Ford Foundation, 2008-12,
US$1,025,000; Oxfam Novib, 2009-10, €30,000; World Vision Australia, 2010,
A$15,000; Van Leer Foundation, 2011, US$20,000.
3. J.A. Scholte, `Civil Society and the International Monetary Fund:
Progress towards Global Accountability?' Nuffield Foundation, 2007-9,
4. J.A. Scholte, `Civil Society and Accountable Global Governance',
2006-9, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation,
£16,000; United Nations University, US$20,000; Ford Foundation, US$15,000;
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SEK 80,000.
5. J.A. Scholte, `Civil Society and Democracy in Global Economic
Governance', Ford Foundation, 2001-5, US$240,000.
6. J.A. Scholte and A. Schnabel, `Civil Society and Global Finance',
Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation and United
Nations University, 1999-2002, US$49,000.
7. R. O'Brien, A. Goetz, J.A. Scholte and M. Williams, `Global Economic
Institutions and Global Social Movements', Economic and Social Research
Council, 1996-9, £56,707.
Details of the impact
Institutional capacity development: providing resources for
Scholte's engagements with GGI and CSO practitioners have helped raise
the quantity and quality of their interactions. A concrete example relates
to the IMF, where in 2003 Scholte drafted the institution's `Staff Guide
for Relations with Civil Society Organizations', described by the Managing
Director as "a framework for IMF staff to understand and contribute to the
expanding dialogue and therefore make it more productive" (source 1).
Specifically mandated by the IMF Executive Board, the guide was circulated
to all staff. The IMF also routinely distributes the guide to its CSO
interlocutors. A testimonial from the Director of External Relations at
the IMF can corroborate Scholte's on-going impact (source 8). He is
currently advising the IMF on the guide's revision, and presented
suggested amendments in view of lessons learned from his underpinning
research at the institution's annual meeting in Tokyo in 2012. There he
convened a workshop with CSOs and IMF/World Bank officials to discuss
possible policy revisions, and wrote an informal report afterwards for IMF
civil society liaison officers (source 8).
In 2008-9 Scholte provided more specific advice to the IMF African
Department, consisting of 6 country reports based on fresh fieldwork, an
internally circulated paper `IMF Relations with Civil Society in Africa:
"Quick-Win" Steps to Improved Engagement', and a seminar at IMF
headquarters for leads of African country teams. As a direct result of
Scholte's country visits, IMF representatives in Congo, Malawi, Mozambique
and Nigeria upgraded their relations with CSOs. At headquarters, the
African Department designated a senior official for outreach and created
an Africa Regional Advisory Group including several CSO members. In 2009
the Independent Evaluation Office of the IMF commissioned Scholte to
undertake a comprehensive review of IMF-CSO relations (source 2). His
resulting report has encouraged IMF initiatives such as a substantial (and
very well received) programme to sponsor CSOs from poor countries to
attend the institution's Annual and Spring Meetings, as well as plans to
develop staff training on relations with CSOs (source 2).
Scholte has also given advice on upgrading relations with CSOs to the
Commonwealth (public seminar, 2011), ICANN (advice to its Vice President,
2011), UN Secretariat (public seminar, 2008), World Bank (staff seminars,
2008, 2011) and WTO (staff seminar, 2011) (sources 3 and 7). In 2011 he
prepared the background paper on civil society and governance for a future
Global Fund for Young Children that the World Bank is currently exploring
together with leading international child welfare foundations. In
addition, Scholte has provided inputs on CSO relations to the European
Commission (presentation of research results, 2010), the Haidian District
People's Political Consultative Committee, Beijing (two-hour meeting with
its leadership, 2008), the Mexico City Government (staff training seminar,
2012), the Netherlands Government Commission on Modernising Diplomacy
(two-hour testimony, 2012) and the UK Foreign Office (audience with
Foreign Secretary David Miliband 2008, Wilton Park briefing 2011).
Workshops of the Ford Foundation funded Building Global Democracy (BGD)
programme coordinated by Scholte between 2007 and 12 have involved several
dozen CSOs together with officials from the Arab League, Commonwealth,
FAO, Global Fund, ICANN, OECD, IMF, UNECA, UNESCO, UNICEF, UN NGLS,
UNRCPD, the World Bank and WTO. At these workshops GGI officials and CSO
actors from around the world become acquainted, learn from each other, and
deepen trust that promotes substantive exchanges over policy and projects
(source 6). Feedback from participants shows that they consider these
events to have been informative, stimulating new ideas and leading to new
connections between organisations. BGD has also produced practitioner-
oriented booklets and toolkits to advance CSO inclusion in global
governance (sources 4 and 5). Over 3,000 hard copies of the toolkits have
circulated (including in training seminars) and hundreds more
practitioners have accessed online versions on the BGD website (source 9).
Scholte has also advised the following foundations on their programmes
concerning civil society and global governance (sources 4, 5 and 6): the
Carnegie UK Trust (2008, 2012-13), Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation (2009),
Ford Foundation (2009), and Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2010). Foundation
support to NGOs is vital in sustaining CSO engagement of global
governance. Scholte also advises the One World Trust on its widely
consulted Global Accountability Project (since 2004) and CIVICUS on its
Global Civil Society Report (since 2011).
Scholte has contributed dozens of capacity-building sessions on GGI
engagement with CSOs as varied as the Tomorrow Project, London (2008), the
Congolese Coalition on External Debt, Kinshasa (2009), the Global Policy
Forum, Bonn (2010), the International Institute for Sustainable
Development, Geneva (2011), the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary
Action, Belfast (2012) and Eurodad (2013). CSOs also continually seek
Scholte's ad hoc advice on when, where and through whom they can best
access global governance (sources 4, 5 and 6). He also constantly connects
relevant persons across these circles to further GGI-CSO relations (e.g.
when CSOs in 2012 launched a global network on IMF advocacy).
Enhancing public awareness of global governance issues and informing
Scholte's research-based public engagement work has widely raised
awareness of the possibilities of citizen engagement of global governance,
in order to promote the benefits identified in Section 2 above. His 51
presentations to audiences including policy-makers, NGOs, trade unions,
social movements, think tanks, faith-based groups, journalists and the
general public in 23 countries during the REF reporting period reached
over 2,000 people. His talk at Occupy London in 2011 attracted 23,000
followers on Twitter. The BGD quarterly newsletter with regular items on
GGI- CSO relations circulated to 6,600 recipients in 162 countries. The
BGD website attracted over 60,000 visits since its 2009 launch, from an
average of 114 countries per month in 2012. The BGD Facebook page launched
in 2010 drew nearly 1,000 `friends'. A public meeting round the BGD
workshop in Delhi drew over 200 participants, and the BGD workshop in Rio
was covered in 70 media outlets (source 10). Scholte has also shaped media
coverage of civil society in global politics via outlets such as the BBC
World Service (2010) and Financial Times (2011).
Sources to corroborate the impact
Evidence of impact on practitioners:
International Monetary Fund, `Staff Guide for Relations with
Civil Society Organizations'. The Guide demonstrates the uptake of
Scholte's research findings by the IMF in their staff training guide for
working with CSOs. On-going impact of Staff Guide since 2008
corroborated by source 8. Available on request and online: http://bit.ly/1gn74kQ
Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the IMF, `IMF
Interactions with Member Countries'. This 2009 Report provides evidence
of Scholte's input into the review of the effectiveness of IMF
interactions with Member Countries at the request of the IEO (see pp.
viii, 96 and 107). Available on request and online: http://bit.ly/16drvMM
International Monetary Fund, `Filling accountability gaps
through civil society engagement'. This Report is a record of Scholte's
briefing on 18 November 2008 to the IMF and World Bank on the
accountability of international financial institutions. Available on
request and online: http://bit.ly/1cxFVqv
Executive Director, New Rules for Global Finance. In her
testimonial (available on request) the source writes: "Scholte helped
the IMF to see civil society as at least neutral and, in time, as making
positive contributions to the Fund's mission, legitimacy and
Executive Director, INTRAC; former Executive Director, One World
Trust. In his testimonial (available on request), the source
writes: "The One World Trust Global Accountability project has benefited
from Scholte's input in particular with regards to methodological
guidance to assure the academic rigour of the framework, and quality
assurance on publications".
Executive Director, Bernard Van Leer Foundation; former Deputy
Director, Governance and Global Civil Society, Ford Foundation. In
her testimonial (available on request), the source writes: "Scholte is a
world leader in bringing research to practice on civil society relations
with global governance. He has prepared influential policy inputs for
the IMF and made significant contributions to capacity development on
the side of civil society groups. [...] Very few scholars have had that
kind of impact".
Head of External Relations, World Trade Organisation. In his
testimonial (available on request), the source writes: "Scholte's
research has been very useful to WTO's efforts to increase and improve
its relations with NGOs and other civil society groups. His work has
enriched internal debates about the institution's attitudes and
practices [...] and improved public understanding of trade issues".
Director, External Relations Department, International Monetary
Fund. The source is responsible for IMF relations with civil
society, and he can corroborate Scholte's on-going impact with
particular regards to the revision of the IMF's staff guide.
Evidence of impact on public awareness and debate:
Participant evaluations of workshops discussed under impacts 1
and 2. Available on request and online:
http://bit.ly/17vW1fS (Rio workshop)
Media coverage of workshop in Rio de Janeiro, list of 49
mentions, including national Brazilian outlets Jornal do Commercio,
Canal Futuro TV, O Globo and Radiobrás. See for example article
based on the `Building Global Democracy' project in O Globo.
Available on request and online: http://bit.ly/19TI9A0