NGOs, civil society and the State: building democracy in transitional countries

40 participants from 24 countries took part in this workshop, organised by the International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC) in Oxford, UK. Much of the workshop was spent trying to reach agreement on what civil society means, and the degree to which it can be conceptually separated from the State, and reinforced by NGOs. Another concern was that Northern and Southern NGOs' understandings of civil society were often different; the Northern interpretation was accused of being donor-driven and neo-imperialist, and there were general concerns that less powerful groups could be assimilated by stronger organisations attempting to impose `togetherness' and `co-operation'.