“Civil Society” Defined From the desk of Bahman Baktiari

During a speech at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland January 2009, UN Secretary-General mentioned the following: “Our times demand a new definition of leadership—global leadership. They demand a new constellation of international cooperation—governments, civil society and the private sector, working together for a collective global good.”

The above quotation gives us a clear indication of what civil society means in contemporary discourse: a sphere of activity poised between government and the private sector, yet separate from them both.

According to the definition adopted by the World Bank, civil society is a broad term that encompasses the vast range of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that publicly express values and interests, and thus occupy a place in public life. These interests can be ethical, philanthropic, scientific, cultural, religious, or political, and can be promoted by groups as diverse as labor unions, faith-based organizations, and foundations.

Though this definition might seem overly removed from the daily lives of many of us, the most important thing to remember about civil society is that it is in fact all around us, operating constantly, and impacting us whether or not we are active participants. Have you recently donated blood, attended a play, listened to an environmental activist give a presentation, watched a news bulletin on student protests, been on strike, accepted a pamphlet from a local church, or volunteered at a community sporting event? You have experienced civil society at work.

Bahman Baktiari is the Executive Director of the International Foundation for Civil Society.


About bahmanbaktiari

Bahman Bakhtiari is widely considered an authority on the political and social realities within Iran. He has conducted thorough and extensive research into the subject and shared his expertise through numerous avenues. He has authored a multitude of book chapters and articles, given frequent lectures and presentations in academic and professional settings, and penned several conference papers. Mr. Bakhtiari has also appeared on major news programs such as National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, and All Things Considered; CNN; PBS’s Jim Lehrer News Hour; Christian Science Monitor Radio; and ABC News. Bahman Bakhtiari has been quoted in print media such as USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Orlando Sentinel, and Congressional Quarterly Research. Bahman Bakhtiari earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Denver in 1979. Mr. Bakhtiari graduated with a double major in Philosophy and Political Science before relocating to Charlottesville, Virginia, where he enrolled in the University of Virginia for graduate studies. He earned a Master of Arts in Foreign Affairs in 1981 and remained at the institution to obtain a Doctorate in Government. After his education, Bahman Bakhtiari lectured at numerous conferences and colleges, including the United States Department of State, National Defense University, and Texas A&M University. He currently is the Executive Director for the International Foundation for Civil Society: The Middle East & North Africa. Bahman Bakhtiari also holds membership in the United States Institute for Peace Working Group on Iran. He continues to broaden his comprehension on his area of expertise.

Posted on January 22, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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