Call for Chapters: The Deadline for submitting proposals to the book project on 'Critical Perspectives on Civil Society participation in Global Governance' has been shifted to May 15, 2011.
Debate on multilateral governance has resurged in the last few years as a consequence, among other things, of growing perceptions of the state as an inadequate framework through which transnational challenges can be confronted. This perception of the state is bolstered by the nature of the post cold war international system and the fact that many challenges that were once regarded as being within the exclusive domain of states now have significant implications for international relations. As a consequence, old conceptions of state sovereignty are being intensely questioned.
Within this milieu, civil society formations have become increasingly vocal in their demands for participation in multilateral governance. They argue that no matter what new framework for global governance is designed, it can no longer be ‘another organization mandated solely by states’ (Mori: 2004: 157). These demands can easily be situated first within the context of a global political system that is becoming increasingly de-territorialized and within which multiple forms of identity, mobilization and participation; a good number of which operate outside of the state framework; increasingly gain currency. Second, they can also be understood by looking at the challenges being faced by the state from forces below it for reformulations of the structures of production and accumulation, and for increased participation in the governance process (Prempeh: 2004; Webb: 2006; Coelho and Lieres: 2010). Thirdly, it may also be significant to interrogate the deepening networks and linkages of social formations across national borders; what has been referred to as a ‘global civil society’ (Anheier: 2001; Keane: 2003; Tsutsui: 2004; Tsutsui and Wotipka: 2004; Clark: 2009; Reitan: 2009; Duffour, Masson and Caouette: 2010); as a way of understanding not just the intensifying demands of civil society for inclusion in what was an erstwhile state-based process, but also their apparently growing capability to ensure that their voices are heard and ultimately influence the outcomes (Speth: 2003; Aviel: 2005).
While the nature of the contemporary international system appears to encourage the proliferation of inter-governmental organisations, little has been done to ensure their democratic accountability. As Scholte (2004: 211) notes, multilateral institutions have ‘included only weak, if any, formal accountability mechanisms’. Indeed, there is considerable confusion as to whom or what they should be accountable. For instance, should multilateral institutions be accountable to governments or to societies? How much freedom of action should career bureaucrats who run the day to day activities of these organisations have, since they are obviously free from the kind of democratic control parliaments can wield over national bureaucracies?
Rather than clearing the confusion, the deepening of politics beyond the state has indeed heightened the competing claims of various social formations to ownership of the accountability of institutions of global governance. This accountability dilemma is further deepened by a legitimacy deficit that hangs over many multilateral institutions. It is within this context that civil society participation in global governance institutions has been encouraged.
It is assumed that civil society has the capacity to mitigate this deficit and introduce a democratic and broad participatory component to institutions whose very make up appears to favour their exclusion. In places like Europe where civil society movements have gained widespread and effective prominence in policy circles and where many of their core ideals and goals derive from a historically appropriate reading of the social imaginary within the society, there is still lingering doubt about the veracity of civil society’s claim to mitigating legitimacy concerns in multilateral institutions. For instance some of the central planks of civil society participation in organisations like the OECD, IMF, EU and WTO are, in fact, acts of protest against undemocratic, insensitive and top-down approaches to multilateral governance (Fox and Brown: 1998, Florini: 2000, Edwards and Gaventa: 2001, Scholte: 2002, 2003). Therefore, at the same time they indicate growing civic participation, they also reflect the depth of institutional resistance to it. In the developing world however, the challenges of civil society engagement with global governance institutions, while similar to the conditions in the global north, is much more complex. For one, the dominant conception of civil society is derived from a largely alien social imaginary and therefore deepens the disconnection with the ordinary people. There is the suspicion that civil society participation, rather than mitigating the democratic deficit, merely conceals it, and, in the long run, deepens it. This is a critical challenge not the least because it is coming at a time that governance appears to be deepening at the transnational level and there are growing legitimate concerns about its implications for democratic aspirations all over the world.
In the light of the above, we are looking for innovative proposals from young scholars that draw attention to the limitations of civil society formations as legitimating or democratising forces in global governance. We are interested in those that seek to provide critical insights into the role civil society actually plays in specific institutions of global governance, from the UN to regional organisations and of course environmental or even educational institutions. The proposals should relate to the following themes:
1. Civil Society in Global Governance: Theories, Perspectives, Philosophy
2. Civil Society in regional institutions like ECOWAS, AU, EU, ASEAN etc
3. Civil Society in International Financial Institutions
4. Civil Society in the UN
5. Civil Society in environmental governance
6. The future of multilateral governance
7. Concepts of civil society participation eg. civil society as social movements challenging the nature of global governance and civil society as institutionalised NGOs within global governance institutions
8. Democracy and global governance: linkages, rhetoric and realities
This book is being edited by graduate student(s); as such, proposals from graduate students are particularly encouraged. We would also be delighted to receive proposals from young scholars within 3 years of receiving their PhDs.
Interested contributors should send proposals of not more than 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before May 15, 2011.
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You will find regularly updated information about the project on akiniwilade.wordpress.com
We will respond to all submissions by May 30, 2011. For accepted proposals, full paper submissions must be turned in by July 16, 2011. Authors who miss this deadline will have their papers removed. Other things being equal, we hope to publish the edited collection by March, 2012 at the latest.
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