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Englishcivil society
Frenchsociété civile
Spanishsociedad civil
Russianгражданское общество
Chinese 民间社会;民间团体
مجتمع مدني
Cross-Ref voluntary sector;
Note Eng All forms of association and representatives of a nation or community that are not organs of the Government (to include the military) or the private sector (profit-making business). Civil society includes women's groups, business associations, elders, religious leaders, intellectuals, community associations, cooperatives, non-governmental organizations and so forth.
Term may be used in context of peace operations to refer to segments of society that may provide a foundation for national reconciliation efforts.

The following definition of civil society is given in the Glossary of the 2004 "Cardoso Report" [the report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations-Civil Society Relations, entitled “We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and Global Governance”, cf., A/58/817, page 13]

"Refers to the associations of citizens (outside their families, friends and businesses) entered into voluntarily to advance their interests, ideas and ideologies. The term does not include profit-making activity (the private sector) or governing (the public sector). Of particular relevance to the United Nations are mass organizations (such as organizations of peasants, women or retired people), trade unions, professional associations, social movements, indigenous people’s organizations, religious and spiritual organizations, academe and public benefit non-governmental organizations."


Historically, the term "civil society" has been used to refer to the system of social relations based on the association of people independently of the state and the family which first emerged in Europe in the seventeenth century -- in contrast to medieval society in which the state was inseparable from the kinship system which determined the station of every person in life and even their occupation.
Note Frn En français, le terme renvoie parfois au seul secteur associatif.

Définie comme suit dans le rapport Cardoso: "On entend par là les associations de citoyens (autres que celles qui concernent leurs familles, leurs amis et leurs activités professionnelles) auxquelles ceux-ci ont décidé d’adhérer pour promouvoir leurs intérêts, leurs idées et leurs idéologies. Ce terme ne renvoie pas aux activités à but lucratif (secteur privé) non plus qu’à l’action des pouvoirs publics (secteur public). Présentent un intérêt particulier pour l’ONU les organisations de masse (telles que les organisations de paysans, de femmes ou de retraités), les syndicats, les associations professionnelles, les mouvements sociaux, les organisations de peuples autochtones, les organisations religieuses et spirituelles, les associations d’universitaires et les organisations non gouvernementales d’intérêt public."
Note Rus Физические лица и группы (организованные или неорганизованные), которые взаимодействуют друг с другом в социальной, политической и экономической сферах.
E (def): Policy on Engagement with Civil Society Organizations, UNDP (2001);
R: Глоссарий к Руководству ПРООН по программам, RUTERM (consulted March 2014);
Subject core concept, political life, social issues
DBName E/F/S/R/A/C: Glossary on peace operations, 1993-2001