The London Conference

Plenary Session Three: Filling the Gap: Can Civil Society Drive Global Cooperation?

Thursday 21 June, 1700 - 1800


The context
At a time of reduced intergovernmental cooperation, civil society and social movements offer a potentially compensating vehicle for transnational coalitions of interest. Many such movements challenge the institutional biases that reinforce decision-making orthodoxies, and in a connected world they have the potential to coalesce support and momentum in ways that reshape power structures and public policy. A key question for the future is what can be done – and on which issues – to encourage a comparable mobilization of civil society. And at a time when civil societies around the world are under pressure of shrinking space, either through suppression, or paradoxically, through co-optation as governments take on their agendas as official strategy, are expectations being set too high of what can be achieved?

The conversation
How can movements nurtured and mobilized via social media transition to sustainable structures that can effect long-term change? Do decentralised social movements need a single set of core beliefs in order to succeed? How are campaigns such as the #MeToo movement reshaping the nature of political debate and discussion? What do recent scandals within the aid/development sector reveal about the need for greater scrutiny of civil society organisations and the potential for abuses of power? In light of this, in what ways do transnational movements that are resourced and managed according to dominant western models need to adapt? And given the wide breadth and diversity of considerations – even when working on a single issue – can transnational civil society complement, inform and genuinely shape global governance?

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