1. Global Civil Society and NGOs


  1. Describe a "real world" example of civil society in (a) your own country and (b) some other country. In each of your examples, are the relevant dynamics and processes of civil society contained within the borders of a single state or do they transcend national boundaries? Explain your answer. (9-10)
  2. What fundamental personal values do you employ to make sense of politics and formulate political opinions? Where did you get (or how did you develop) these values? How might your answers to these questions differ from those given by someone who is another race or gender, lives in another country, or subscribes to another religion? What does this tell you about the study of world politics? (10-11)
  3. If civility is an important component of civil society (as Norton contends) and if civil society can function in the absence of formal government institutions (as Muslih suggests), what should be done with (sometimes) "uncivil" actors such as religious fundamentalists or political extremists? Why? (12-13)
  4. Normative theorists argue that the term "normative theory" is misleading, in that there is no such thing as "non-normative" theory. Do you agree? Why or why not? (14)
  5. How does a people-centered understanding of international politics differ from more conventional state-centered understandings? Toward which perspective do you lean? Why? (15)
  6. What are some activities in which you've engaged that have changed you on a personal level and helped you "gain political agency"? Explain your answer. (17)
  7. With regard to "uncivil" actors, how relevant and viable are Norton's "cast of mind" and Sylvester's "empathetic cooperation"? What are some practical ways in which the adoption (or application) of these concepts might influence the political dynamics of the contemporary Middle East (i.e, Israel and the Palestinian territories)? How likely is it that such ideas will gain a significant foothold in this or other conflict-ridden political "hot spots"? Explain your answer. (18)
  8. How would you characterize the relationship between global civil society and the state system? Are the dynamics of global civil society and the state system more complementary than contradictory or vice versa? Explain your answer and provide supporting examples. (18-20)
  9. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that global civil society's channels of opportunity are ideologically variable? Why? (19-20)
  10. Cite one NGO that works to bring about progressive change and one that works toward conservative ends. What is your basis for assigning each NGO/TSMO to its respective category? (21-22)
  11. Think of an NGO that you support, in practice or in principle, and use the concept of "framing" to explain why you support it. (22)


UN Consultative Status

In order to effectively accomplish their objectives, NGOs often must interact with intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). One way to do this is by applying for "consultative status" via the NGO Branch of the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Those that meet the necessary criteria are granted one of three types of consultative status, each of which accords them some degree of access to formal channels of communication and influence within the UN system.

Review the Basic Facts about ECOSOC Status and How to Apply for Consultative Status.

  1. In the eyes of the UN, how and why do NGOs appear to be important? Do you agree or disagree?
  2. How is the UN's assessment of NGOs similar to or different from the book's?
  3. What specific privileges and responsibilities come with consultative status? How useful and important are these? How might having these responsibilities and privileges affect an NGO's organizational efficacy and prestige?
  4. Must an NGO have consultative status with the UN to be truly effective? Why or why not?

The Mine Ban Treaty

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), a coalition of more than 1400 NGOs, received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its role in helping to negotiate an international treaty banning anti-personnel landmines. The Mine Ban Treaty, which has since entered into force as international law, is widely cited as an example of the effectiveness of transnational advocacy networks; and the treaty's negotiation and implementation processes are regarded by some as a model for future interactions between NGOs, states, and IGOs.

Visit the Treaty section of the ICBL's website and explore the Treaty in Detail section.

  1. What does the Mine Ban Treaty seek to accomplish?
  2. What sets the Mine Ban Treaty apart from most other international treaties?
  3. Would this treaty have come to fruition without the help of NGOs? Why or why not?
  4. In the case of this treaty, how important was the fact that the ICBL was a coalition (or network)? Explain your answer.