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For over two decades, the concept of civil society has informed institutional design in the international realm. Empowering civil society has served as a key rhetorical and policy response to the criticism that the social and economic processes of globalization and the international organizations that have emerged to govern the global realm are illegitimate, elite driven, and anti-democratic. This chapter, which appears in the Elgar Research Handbook on Global Administrative Law, unpacks the concept of civil society with the aim of understanding the institutional reforms that have been undertaken in one important area of global governance—the international development law of the World Bank and other multilateral development banks. The chapter identifies five lines of theoretical argument in favor of civil society: liberal, social capital, multicultural, cosmopolitan, and effective governance. It then canvasses the evolving law of the World Bank, with reference where relevant to other multilateral development banks. The chapter demonstrates that the reforms undertaken in the 1990s-- analytical and participation requirements in project planning and funding for civil society groups--were motivated by the social capital and multicultural theories. By contrast, the reforms of the 2000s—transparency and consultation—were driven by the liberal and effective governance theories. Surprisingly, cosmopolitan theories that posit transnational associations as representatives of a global people are largely absent from the law of the World Bank.

GW Paper Series

GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2015-51; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-51

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