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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Classic definitions of diplomacy, characterizing it as peaceful interactions among state actors, leave civil society outside the concept. However, the rise of civil society’s participation in global governance in the twentieth century had made diplomacy less an exclusive club than a complex network of relationships only partially controllable by traditional diplomats. This article aims to find patterns in the influence of these comparatively new actors. It first defines civil society and traces its historical emergence, and then argues that civil society organizations are most important at the beginnings and ends of global diplomatic efforts. At the beginning, they are critical for putting new issues on the agenda and shaping the ways those issues are understood. At the end, they help to implement global accords, with their wide presence and loose networking an asset for taking global agreements to the local level. They are less central in the classic stages of diplomatic negotiations between governmental representatives, but their strong presence in other roles now transforms negotiations as well.

Keywords: civil society organizations, diplomacy, diplomatic activity, global governance

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