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Historically, development policy has been dictated by the forces of the state and the market, neither of which have succeeded in solving social problems on their own. As a result, governments have come to recognize that the full involvement of civil society is critical to achieving social development goals. This recognition was clearly visible in the role of NGOs at the PrepCom. Several NGOs and delegates alike observed that this PrepCom demonstrated that NGOs, more than ever, are exerting their democratic influence on global processes. The high visibility of NGOs teeming throughout the basement of the UN infused accountability, energy, and innovation into the negotiations.

In the Declaration, language on the empowerment of civil society is quite strong and supports the idea that empowerment is an essential tool for promoting the participation of civil society and that only when individuals, families and communities are empowered through education, health and other ways to take control of their own lives, can they contribute maximally to society. Once again, despite the positive rhetoric, the true test will be the extent to which governments commit to operationalizing these principles.