Sustaining Civil Society
Within the current framework of intellectual struggle and global activism against systemic and institutional racism, the international community must recognize that Haiti’s victimization through racialized capitalism jeopardizes the daily lives of Haitians both inside and outside Haiti. Theories that paint Haiti as a fragile or failed state are inaccurate as they ignore the power of international and local forces that constantly shape Haitian society.
Democracy is a delicate test requiring constant vigilance from civil society. This is Haiti’s continuing predicament. The international community, particularly the United States, must play its role by focusing not on foreign policy but through instrumental rationality and embracing a humanitarian approach toward the Haitian people. The United States can and must stop the flow of weapons to state-sponsored gangs, who are killing innocent Haitians. Additionally, this is the time to listen to the progressive Haitian civil society and their hope to establish a healthy and respectful relationship with the international community.
Civil society is a vital building block of development and national unity. In a country experiencing peace and stability, civil society helps to fill the space untouched by the government and the private sector. In a fragile economy or in times of high conflict, civil society plays an even more essential role in providing services that are typically the responsibility of the state and business and can then create a foundation for resolution. Civil society is comprised of organizations that are not associated with government—including schools and universities, advocacy groups, professional associations, churches, and cultural institutions. Civil society can function as an essential source of information for both citizens and government. These organizations monitor government policy and action and hold a government accountable for its actions. Civil society delivers necessary services to the poor and underserved while continuing to defend citizen rights and working to change and uphold desired social norms and behaviors.
To sustain civil society, government constraints, corruption, and disregard for fundamental human rights must be fought so that civil society organizations have the space to exercise their essential roles. Investing in civil society organizations helps combat the inequality that causes some groups to be excluded from the country’s economic, political, and social life. Special priority should be provided to supporting organizations that represent marginalized groups.
The recent challenges created by the coronavirus demonstrate the vital importance of civil society to communities, national and global health, economic well-being, stability, and unity. Civil society, both independently and in collaboration, faces the monumental task of reducing the overall impact on society and the economy in developing and developed countries alike.
Sustaining a thriving civil society depends greatly on the value given to those populations and marginalized communities that services are targeted for. This value creates the space needed to offer necessary services and prioritize the missions involved. Currently, the majority of civil society groups have stated their priority to providing physical security and obtaining food and medical care for their families, especially as COVID-19 continues to affect so many people. By providing for basic needs, the structure of a country can be upheld even through the most trying of times.
- Haiti: A Path to Stability for a Nation in Shock
- Leaving no one behind? The influence of civil society participation on the Sustainable Development Goals
- Civil society legitimacy as a balancing act: competing priorities for land rights advocacy organisations working with local communities in Kenya
- Civil society: An essential ingredient of development
- Understanding Haiti Through the Power of the Social Forces in Interaction