Marina Vasilara Gotelenne Piaton


Civil society, as a form of collective action, is a means of getting closer to direct democracy, and a way in which representative democracy, as found in modern societies, can be complemented by giving the space to groups and individuals to work together and express their voice that would otherwise not be heard directly. These issues are non-exhaustive but could include watchdog functions, service provision, research and awareness and in general mobilising citizens to take action about issues that concern them. Civil society action in Cyprus is not a new concept but one that has been quite controversial in the past few years. The reasons for its slow growth may be inherent confusions in society about its role, the role of the state and the role of political parties. Moreover, the institutional framework regarding civil society work is not clear and often proves to be more of a burden than a supporter in terms of promoting an enabling environment for the sector to grow. UNDP-ACT and its predecessor the UNOP’s Bicommunal Development Programme have been working with civil society on the island for almost 10 years to empower it to have a voice. In 2005, UNDP-ACT undertook a study of the state of civil society on the island based on the CIVICUS methodology to determine its features and study possible ways to address the structural problems facing it. 



civil society, Cyprus, democracy, citizen participation, United Nations, civics (or civic education), civic organizations, active citizenship, civil societyorganizations, non-governmental organisations

Broome, B. (2005) Building Bridges across the Green Line. Nicosia, Cyprus, UNDP.

CIVICUS (2005) ‘An Assessment of Civil Society in Cyprus, a Map for the Future’.

Council of Europe (2007) Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the legal status of non-governmental organisations in Europe (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 10 October 2007).

Dehousse, R. (2003) ‘Beyond Representative Democracy: Constitutionalism in a Polycentric Polity’ in Weiler and Wind (eds.), European Constitutionalism Beyond the State. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Elazar, D.J. (1995) ‘The Use of Direct Democracy (Referenda and Plebiscites) in Modern Government’ [http://www.jcpa.org].

Fries, R. (2003) ’The Legal Environment of Civil Society‘ in Kaldor, M., Anheier, H. and Glasius, M. (eds.), Global Civil Society.

General Assembly of the United Nations (1998) ‘Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’. Resolution (A/RES/53/144).

ICNL for OSI (1997) ‘Guideline for Law Affecting Civic Organisations’. New York, Open Society Institute.

Mosse, Cl. (1971) ’Histoire d’une Democratie, Athenes, des Origines‘, Le Seuil.

Rosenthal, A. (1997) ’The Decline of Representative Democracy: Process, Participation, and Power in State Legislatures‘, Congressional Quarterly, Inc.

Singer, P. (1973) Democracy and Disobedience. London, Oxford University Press.

UNDP (2001) UNDP and Civil Society Organisations, a Policy of Engagement.

UNDP-ACT (2007) ‘Where There is A Will There is a Way’, International Civil Society Fair Newspaper supplement.

How to Cite

“The Role of Civil Society in Cyprus”. 2018. Cyprus Review 19 (2): 107-21. https://cyprusreview.org/index.php/cr/article/view/273.