Commonwealth insights: Constructive engagement for civil society


Date: December 18, 2017
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Constructive engagement: a definition

Constructive engagement is an approach to advocacy for social change and transformation. It seeks a reciprocal relationship between civil society and institutions in governance based on respect and trust.

Such engagement implies that the state and other powerful bodies recognise that civil society is an independent development actor. It recognises that CSOs are a reflection of the voice of the citizens and therefore engagement with them is a dialogue with society. Constructive engagement is an essential element of an effective partnership between government and Civil Society Organisations.

Other  key insights

Other insights include the challenge of representation, understanding common self interest as well as the language of diplomacy. The panel talked about relational power as well as being organised. being organised means the democratic way of working with the members of your alliance. Further, the currency of engagement comes in the form of negotiation as well as confidentiality and transparency, which are however, not an oxymoron. Finally, the insights include energising leadership and the timing of visibility.

There are key questions from the panel and points to consider as well as references and further reading.


Author: Commonwealth Foundation
Publisher: Commonwealth Foundation
Year of Publication: 2014