Since September 11, the media have rushed to write obituaries for the
movement against corporate globalization.
Don't believe everything you read.
The movement is alive and kicking.
While media commentators have rushed to bury the global justice
movement, the many strands of the movement against corporate
globalization have been busy organizing, campaigning, lobbying,
demonstrating -- and, frequently, winning.
* As the world's trade ministers huddled in Doha, Qatar last month in an
effort to fashion agreement to launch a new round of World Trade
Organization (WTO) negotiations, activists around the world demonstrated
against the trade organization. In place of a new round of negotiations,
the protesters demanded the WTO's power be curtailed or the institution
In the United States, demonstrators hit the streets in Washington, D.C.,
Chicago, Harrisburg, Madison, Wisconsin, New York City, Philadelphia,
San Francisco, Sacramento.
Even more impressively, protests and meetings were held across the globe
-- in Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada (in a
dozen cities), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany (in
more than two dozen towns), Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia,
Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria,
Norway, the Philippines, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey and the UK. In Thailand, more
than 1,500 farmers, union members and HIV/AIDS activists called for the
WTO to get out of agriculture and medicines.
* In Doha itself, the campaign to promote access to essential medicines
in poor countries scored a significant victory. Fortified by protests in
recent years from HIV/AIDS activists and a torrent of technical
information from advocacy groups, the developing countries extracted
from the rich countries a pledge that "the TRIPS Agreement [the WTO's
intellectual property agreement] does not and should not prevent Members
from taking measures to protect public health." All WTO countries joined
in "affirm[ing] that the Agreement can and should be interpreted and
implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members' right to protect
public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for
This declaration will provide developing countries with the political
space they need to begin introducing generic versions of on-patent
medicines, including drugs to treat HIV/AIDS. Because generics are
priced dramatically below the brand-name companies' products, the result
may be that millions gain access to life-saving treatment they would
otherwise be denied.
* On November 13, a coalition of environmental organizations, including
Forest Ethics and the Dogwood Alliance, coordinated a day of action
against Staples, featuring more than 200 demonstrations at Staples
stores. The protesters demanded the company stop selling paper made from
endangered forests and switch to recycled sources.
Staples -- which, according to the environmental groups, says that 97
percent of the paper it sells come from forests -- has responded to the
Stop Staples campaign by introducing some recycled paper lines in its
stores and sponsoring America Recycles Day.
The message from activists: "Staples must get out of the business of
destroying forests," says Forest Ethics' Todd Paglia. "Putting a couple
new recycled products on the shelves and buying their way into America
Recycles Day doesn’t save forests."
* On November 20, thousands massed in the streets of Ottawa for a
militant demonstration against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
Following September 11, the two institutions cancelled the meetings they
had scheduled for late September in Washington, D.C. -- where they would
have been greeted by tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding open
meetings, debt cancellation for poor countries, an end to structural
adjustment, and the elimination of lending for socially and
environmentally dangerous projects, like oil, mining, gas and large
When the institutions rescheduled scaled-down meetings with little
notice, activists in Ottawa mobilized on the fly -- again showing that
the proponents of corporate globalization that there is nowhere they can
hide. When they meet, the people will take to the streets.
* This week, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives
is pushing a vote on fast track, which would give the president
unbridled negotiating authority to expand NAFTA to all of the Americas,
as well as the power to negotiate other bilateral and multilateral
treaties that will drag down living standards in the United States and
around the world.
But a coalition of labor, environmentalists, consumer groups and many
others has out-organized the Big Business interests supporting fast
track. As of this writing, it appears fast track -- if indeed the vote
is held -- will be defeated.
[And to make sure that's so, U.S. residents should call their Member of
Congress at 1-800-393-1082 (just give your zip code, and you will be
connected to your representative) and urge them to vote "no" on fast
This is just a small sampling of the global justice movement's
accomplishments in the last month.
The tens of thousands who turn out for its major demonstrations are just
the most visible manifestation of a movement that continues to gain
strength. The global justice movement is a majoritarian movement, in the
United States and around the world. There will be more major
mobilizations in the months and years ahead, but there will also be more
coordinated international days of action, more boycotts, more pressure
campaigns, more lobbying -- and more victories. Not only does this
movement have staying power, it is going to win.
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor and co-director Essential Action. They are
co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the
Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999).
(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman