Many have tended to assume that civil society is another term for non-governmental organizations. However, civil society refers to either a group of people that is organized or individuals that have come together for a common cause or to address a specific issue in a given community. Such groups of people can constitute non governmental organizations, trade unions, associations, religious groups, academicians and the like.
The Role of Civil Society in Fighting Corruption
The civil society performs certain functions that are aimed at fulfilling the aspirations or concerns of societies such as social participation in good governance issues and the promotion of democracy and its values.
This can be achieved in various ways such as:
- developing action plans and organizing conferences and workshops with specific emphasis towards corruption,
- Building coalitions between those spearheading the fight against corruption and other watchdog institutions in the fight against corruption.
- Lobbying for new legislation that would enhance the fight against corruption; and
- Advocating for legal and judicial reforms that strengthen towards the eradication of the scourge.
Relevance and Important of Citizenry Participation
The citizenry of any nation is what makes that nation. Therefore whatever programmes a nation puts in place, lobbying the support of its citizenry should be of paramount importance. It is the same citizens who are affected by the consequences of corruption hence the need for them to be actively involved in combating the crime. The citizenry have the right to freedom, right of association and also right to information. In most republican constitution of democratic countries, the later entitlement dictates that the citizenry be given all the information it needs for it to make informed choices and act responsibly. By so doing, civil society will be involved in action plans and strategies aimed at combating corruption. The citizens’ participation in combating corruption will be effective if they also conduct themselves in following ways;
- Regard for the law
- Respect for the dignity and privacy of others
- Exercising integrity
- Proper personal conduct
The government and anti-corruption agencies also need to consider certain aspects in order for citizenry participation to be effective. These are;
- Ensuring that transparent mechanisms are put in place in order for the citizenry to access information
- Transparency in government
- Provision of a free public debate on issues of good governance and democracy