In This Review

The Third Force: The Rise of Transnational Civil Society
The Third Force: The Rise of Transnational Civil Society
Edited by Ann M. Florini
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Press, 2000, 295 pp

The rapid growth in transnational advocacy groups has led some scholars to foresee the emergence of a global civil society. This book provides a useful overview of the activities and potential significance of these nongovernmental policy networks. Case histories explore the activities of prominent transnational movements focused on such issues as corruption, human rights, land mines, and sustainable development. The book finds that these groups' impact varies dramatically with their influence on policy agendas, hinging primarily on their ability to marshal information and moral authority. Florini resists the view that these groups are merely extensions of domestic policy movements within the rich democracies; even though they are rarely truly global, many of them do extend beyond the West. But she gives only passing treatment to the book's most important and vexing question: how transnational civil society might ultimately help provide global governance. Nor does she satisfactorily explain how disparate groups aggregate into transnational civil society. But she does make clear that existing international institutions, organized around governments and state sovereignty, will increasingly be pressed to make room at the table for these new entities.