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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The growth in civil society involvement with the UN system : a study of disease eradication programmes Loomer, Anne-Lise Lucretia


The critical and well-publicized role civil society organizations such as Rotary International are currently playing in the success of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a marked contrast to that of the implicit but minor role they played during the campaign to eradicate smallpox. By examining these two case studies of disease eradication initiatives, this thesis seeks to explain the rise of civil society involvement with the UN system in general and the World Health Organization specifically and analyze the factors that account for this evolving relationship. It argues that civil society's greater involvement is one of both necessity and values and utilizes both liberal and constructivist arguments in order to explain this phenomenon. Chapter one provides a working definition of civil society and a discussion of the physical growth of civil society over the past 40 years. It reviews the historical relationship civil society has had with the UN and WHO and provides a discussion on how this relationship is evolving due to globalization and the changing geo-political context. Chapter two examines two cases studies, the eradication campaigns of smallpox and polio, in depth and highlights the contrasting minimal role that civil society played during the height of the Cold War era, when the smallpox campaign was taking place, to that of the lead role it is playing now in the polio campaign. Chapter three applies the theoretical paradigms to the case studies and highlights the thesis' findings that the rise of civil society interaction in global campaigns is a manifestation of a normative shift in the way civil society is viewed by the global community as well as an outcome of the need for greater cooperation to tackle an expanding UN mandate.

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