Transnational Institute

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Transnational Institute
Logo of The Transnational Institute since 2015
Abbreviation TNI
Formation 1973 [1]
Type Transnational alternative policy group, think tank
Focus globalization, corporate power, social and ecological justice
Headquarters Amsterdam, Netherlands
Product critical research, policy analysis, proposals for alternatives, conferences, workshops
Fiona Dove

The Transnational Institute (TNI) is a transnational alternative policy group and “network of scholar-activists”’ that produces critical research oriented toward enhancing democracy, social justice and ecological sustainability.[2][3][4] It was established in 1973 in Amsterdam, originally as the international branch of the Institute for Policy Studies.[2]

Activities and Programs[edit]

TNI's research seeks to challenge existing corporate priorities and state policies, and advocate for alternative globalization policies that are more sustainable, just and democratic.

It produces macro-level analyses and critiques of the current global order, focused on six key programs or issues:

1. The Alternative Regionalisms programme addresses the question of alternative development from the perspective of social movements and regional coalitions of civil society organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It facilitates cross-regional exchanges on a South-South and South-North basis through a series of Peoples’ Dialogues.

2. The Drugs and Democracy programme analyses global trends in drugs policy and promotes a pragmatic approach to tackling illegal drugs based on harm reduction principles. Its work on drugs and conflict in the Andean/Amazon region, Afghanistan and Burma forges connections between illicit drugs and wider issues of demilitarisation, democratisation, public health promotion and poverty reduction. These are then reflected in attempts to influence the policy debate at UN and regional decision-making levels.

3. The New Politics programme engages with innovations and experimentation by social movements, progressive political parties and governments worldwide. It stimulates new thinking and policy proposals on participatory democracy, political organisation, urban governance and rural democratisation.

4. The Environmental Justice project monitors the negative impact of pollution trading upon environmental, social and economic justice, and works to develop community-led responses to it.

5. The Militarism and Globalisation project analyses the changing global frameworks for military intervention and the spread of new security infrastructures. Its current focus includes work on defence industrial reorganisation and the accountability of foreign military bases.

6. The Water Justice project promotes participatory, public sector water as the most viable means to achieve the goal of water for all. It facilitates the creation of new regional and global networks to promote public-public co-operation in the water sector. TNI also publishes a Public Services yearbook on the impact of privatisation and experiences of public sector reform globally.

In addressing these issues and advancing an agenda of economic, social and environmental justice, TNI engages in dialogue with activist communities and social movement groups worldwide, as well as with progressive governments, seeking to empower civil society and bridge the gap between governments and local social actors.[4]

Producing knowledge for different constituencies and audiences on wide range of policy issues, TNI’s practices are multifaceted and include:

  • Carrying out original research and critical analysis;
  • Building alliances and capacity with social movements (including via conferences, seminars and workshops); and
  • Developing and disseminating policy analyses and proposals for alternatives.

Its basic strategies for promoting social change range from insider efforts (e.g., Drugs and Democracy; working to influence the European Commission on trade and investment policy; providing advise to progressive governments of the pink tide) to outsider initiatives (e.g., the campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity).[3]

TNI’s capacity to act within transnational fields has been greatly enhanced through its collaborative approach. Its list of collaborators indicates 82 partners, 14 of whom are extensive global civil-society networks such as the Hemispheric Alliance, Our World is Not for Sale, and the Seattle to Brussels Network.[5]


The Transnational Institute (TNI) was established in 1973 with headquarters at Paulus Potter Street 20 (now the Wittenstraat 25) in Amsterdam. On 9 November 1973 Eqbal Ahmad became the first TNI Director. Among TNI's first Fellows were John Berger, Tom Nairn, John Gittings, Richard Gott, Ernst Utrecht, and Ambalavaner Sivanandan.

In 1974 TNI took part in the international campaign to isolate the military dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile. It held its first conference, "The Lessons from Chile", in the aftermath of the military coup. Many exiled Chileans attended, including three former ministers of the Allende government.[6]

In 1976, Orlando Letelier former Foreign and Defence Minister of Chile and former Ambassador to the US, was appointed director of TNI. His efforts were largely devoted to promoting the New International Economic Order (NIEO). He also managed to stop the Dutch government loaning $60 million for Chilean industrial development.[7]

On 21 September 1976 Orlando Letelier, together with Ronni Karpen Moffitt, was assassinated in Washington DC with a car bomb. Basker Vashee followed as director of the Institute.

In the following year, TNI focused on boycotting Apartheid in South Africa. They helped to connect and build capacity within social movements and published the research “Black South Africa Explodes”[8] on the uprising in Soweto and “US Arms Deliveries to South Africa; The Italian Connection”.

Since the late 1970s, a key focus of TNI has been on global corporate and state power.

In 1976 it helped to arrange (and continues to host) the Transnational Information Exchange (TIE), which investigates the role of multinational corporations in shaping global production and consumption practices, and seeks to support the international labour movement.

In 1982, it began working actively on Third World Debt, and in 1995 TNI began researching and producing critical analyses of the practices and polices of the World Trade Organization.

In 2009, it launched a global campaign to stop corporate impunity, exposing the legal impunity that corporations are granted.


TNI receives part of its institutional funding from the Samuel Rubin Foundation (New York).[9] In addition, it is supported on a project basis by a range of funders, including church agencies, peace and environmental organisations, European foreign and development co-operation ministries, the European Commission, and private foundations in the United States and Europe.

TNI's audited financial report for the last year and a list of its main funders can be found one

Fellows and Associate Fellows[edit]

Fellows: Achin Vanaik, Ben Hayes, Daniel Chavez, David Fig, Edgardo Lander, Hilary Wainwright, Jun Borras, Phyllis Bennis, Praful Bidwai.

Associated: Boris Kagarlitsky, David Sogge, Howard Wachtel, Jochen Hippler, Joel Rocamora, John Cavanagh, Kamil Mahdi, Kees Biekart, Marcos Arruda, Mariano Aguirre, Myriam Vander Stichele, Walden Bello.

Associated Fellows: David Bewley-Taylor, Dot Keet, Gonzalo Berrón, Pauline Tiffen, Ricardo Vargas, Tom Reifer

Senior Fellows: Saul Landau

Former fellows and contributors: Susan George, John Gittings, Fred Halliday, Richard Falk, Michael Shuman, Dan Smith, Praful Bidwai, Brid Brennan, Martin Jelsma, and Basker Vashee.



  1. ^ Archives at the International Institute of Social History
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b Carroll, William. 2015. "Modes of Cognitive Praxis in Transnational Alternative Policy Groups". Globalizations, 1-18.
  4. ^ a b Carroll, William. 2014. “Alternative Policy Groups and Transnational Counter-Hegemonic Struggle.” Pp. 259-84 in Yıldız Atasoy (ed.) Global Economic Crisis and the Politics of Diversity. London & New York: Palgrave MacMillan
  5. ^
  6. ^ History at the website of the institute
  7. ^ Diuguid, Lewis H. (September 16, 1976), "Chile Decree Lifts Citizenship Of Ex-Ambassador Letelier", The Washington Post: p. A30
  8. ^ Black South Africa Explodes at
  9. ^ "Schedule of grants paid for the year ending June 30, 2009" Samuel Rubin Foundation
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
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  20. ^ BBC news on 9-12-2011
  21. ^ Of Common Cloth at goodreads
  22. ^ Loaded Questions at

External links[edit]