In the 1970s and 1980s, development programs in Africa, Latin America, and Asia began to focus on non-governmental organizations [NGOs] as agents of political, economic, and social change. In the 1990s in postsocialist Central and East Europe and the former Soviet Union, an interest in the creation of a non-state sphere of civil society with active NGOs was high on the agenda of many international organizations, Western states, and funders, both state and private. Publicly, it was argued that increased citizen political participation was necessary for democracy and NGOs were an important vehicle for such participation.