A Study of Civil Society in Nicaragua

Working Paper, NUPI

NORAD has commissioned this study as an input to analyzing governance issues in Nicaragua. The report analyzes current civil society in Nicaragua as the product of the developments over the last decades. The sphere is dominated by a set of highly visible, professional and active NGOs – partly because of the strength of these organizations, partly because of weaknesses of other types of organizations. Unions are fragmented, private sector organizations tend to focus on sector demands, social movements are relatively non-existent, and community-based organizations are oriented towards local concerns. While Nicaraguan civil society remains politically polarized – although less so than 10-15 years ago – there are relatively advanced examples of coordination among the organizations. State – civil society relations are gradually changing as new spaces for consultations are being institutionalized and the organizations are becoming more oriented towards lobbying. Still, there is considerable way to go before these new spaces function according to intentions. The fact that civil society is dominated by NGOs – which are not membership-based – means that issues of representation and accountability pose a key challenge for Nicaraguan civil society.