Civil Society and the G20: Towards a Review of Regulatory Models and Approaches

By Helmut K. Anheier and Stefan Toepler


The relationship between many G20 governments and civil society organizations (CSOs) has become more complex and often contested. This policy brief first focuses on three key problems indicative of this strained relationship: the shrinking domestic and international space for civil society activities; the widespread policy neglect of civil society; and the emergence of new regulatory voids. In essence, governments, international agencies and CSOs have to find more optimal modes of engagement at national and international levels. Next, as an initial step to explore ways and means for improving the relationship between civil society and G20 governments, the brief proposes the establishment of an international task force of independent experts. This task force would be charged with seeking answers to major policy questions, and with a focus on international civil society activities:

  • What are likely trajectories for CSOs over the next five to ten years, especially in the context of changing geo-politics?
  • What are the main challenges involved, both domestically and in terms of cross-border activities, and what opportunities present themselves?
  • What would be adequate regulatory models of state – civil society relations, under what conditions, and for international CSO operations in particular?