The Munich Institute for Social Science (MISS) in cooperation with the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation (HBF) and the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh Cambodia (BI) hosts the:


Phnom Penh, 07-08 June 2004
Buddhist Institute in Cambodia

Through globalization processes, the debates on civil society around the world have been strongly influenced by western discourses. This trend also effects the region Southeast Asia, where many nations are confronted with western conceptions of civil society and civil institutions. Therefore it is of particular relevance to host the conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which is a post-UN-country and highly effected by international influence.

Clearly there is more then one concept of civil society: national and cultural characteristics have evolved and numerous distinct traditions of civil society can be observed in different countries. The question is whether the countries of Southeast Asia will find a way towards their own, genuine civil society.

In our opinion civil society is not solely to be understood as a place beyond market and state, but rather as the incorporation of a certain attitude towards society which is equally relevant in all sectors of society. Civil Society is more than just about active participation in politics, rather it is the citizen’s engagement in all sectors – economic, social, cultural and political – on different levels.

Participants from the local political scene, representatives from the private sector, scientists, civil society activists and local groups will examine civil society processes not only in politics, but also in economics and society. The cultural and religious dimensions will play a vital role, particularly with respect to the potential impact of the Buddhist and Islamic traditions on the future development of civil society.

The ultimate aim of the conference is to compare and contrast different concepts concerning civil society in its development capacity. We hope to sketch a path towards civil development policies that respect the national and cultural characteristics of the participant nations.

This conference is following up on a symposium that took place in February 2004 in Bonn, Germany:

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