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Activists protest policies of the World Bank in Washington, DC

The global justice movement is the broad globalized social movement opposing what is often known as “corporate globalization” and promoting equal distribution of economic resources.

A number of organisations and groups using this term have emerged at the beginning of this century - see links and references.


A movement of movements

The global justice movement describes the loose collection of individuals and groups—often referred to as a “movement of movements”—who advocate "fair trade" rules and are critical of current institutions of global economics such as the World Trade Organization.[1] The movement is often labelled the anti-globalization movement by the mainstream media. Those involved, however, frequently deny that they are “anti-globalization,” insisting that they support the globalization of communication and people and oppose only the global expansion of corporate power.[2] The term further indicates an anti-capitalist and universalist perspective on globalization, distinguishing the movement from those opponents of globalization whose politics are based on a conservative defence of national sovereignty.

Important organizational pillars of the movement are Via Campesina, the family farmers' international; Peoples' Global Action, a loose collection of often youthful groups; Jubilee 2000, the Christian-based movement for relieving international debt; Friends of the Earth, the environmentalist international; and some thinktanks like Focus on the Global South and Third World Network [3]. Participants include student groups, NGOs, trade unions, faith-based and peace groups throughout the world. A loose coordination of the movement is taking place on the Social Forums. However, although formal power is often situated in the global South, the resources of North-based NGOs give these disproportionate power to often informally marginalise popular organisations from the South [4].


Massive protests

The movement is characterized by the massive citizen protests and alternative summits which have, for the last decade, accompanied most meetings of the G8, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. The movement came to the attention of many in the US when activists successfully used protests to shut down the 1999 WTO Ministerial in Seattle. This represented, however, just one of a series of massive global justice protests that have included protests at the 1988 World Bank/IMF meetings in Germany,[5] "IMF riots" beginning in Lima in 1975, over cuts in the social safety-net presided over by IMF and other international organizations, and spreading through the world,[6][7] and "water wars" in Bolivia and South Africa.[8]

International solidarity

The global justice movement claims to place a significant emphasis on transnational solidarity uniting activists in the global South and global North. Some have argued that the World Social Forum is one excellent example of this emphasis, bringing activists together from around the world to focus on shared philosophy and campaigning. However others see the World Social Forum as dominated by Northern NGOs, donors and activists and argue that Southern representation is largely organized via Northern donors and their NGOs and that popular organizations in the global South are systematically marginalized or included in a deeply subordinated manner.[9]For this reason many grassroots movements in the South boycott the forum and the NGOs that gatekeep representation at the forum or, in some instance, actively oppose it as just one more space of domination.

See also


  1. ^ Tom Mertes, "A Movement of Movements", New York: Verso, 2004
  2. ^ della Porta, D. 2005. “The Social Bases of the Global Justice Movement: Some Theoretical Reflections and Empirical Evidence from the First European Social Forum.” Civil Society and Social Movements Programme Paper No. 21.Geneva: UNRISD (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development).
  3. ^ Ruth Reitan: Global Activism, Routledge 2007
  4. ^ Jai Sen, Peter Waterman, World Social Forum - Challenging Empires. Black Rose 2008
  5. ^ Berlin 1988 IMF World Bank Conference protests
  6. ^ Greg Palast interviewing Joseph Steiglitz, "IMF’s Four steps to Damnation" The Observer (London), 29 April, 2001:
  7. ^ John Walton, David Seddon, Free Markets & Food Riots. Blackwell 1994
  8. ^ The Democracy Center, "Bechtel Vs. Bolivia: The Bolivian Water Revolt",
  9. ^ See for instances criticisms of how Northern donors and NGOs have determined African participation in the World Social Forum by Andile Mngxitama and David Ntseng at and

Further reading

  • Alex Callinicos, An Anti-Capitalist Manifesto. London: Polity, 2003.
  • Notes from Nowhere, We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anti-Capitalism. London: Verso, 2003.
  • Gelder, Melinda, Meeting the Enemy, Becoming a Friend. Boulder: Bauu Press, 2006.
  • Hadden, J. Tarrow, S., Spillover or Spillout? The Global Justice Movement in the United States after 9/11, Mobilization, 2007, VOL 12; NUMB 4, pages 359-376 , online
  • David Solnit, Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World'.' San Francisco: City Lights, 2003.
  • Tom Mertes, Movement of Movements. New York: Verso, 2004.
  • Donatella della Porta, The Global Justice Movement: Cross-national And Transnational Perspectives. New York: Paradigm, 2006.
  • Ruth Reitan, Global Activism. Routledge 2007.

External links




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