Transnational Institute

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Transnational Institute
39 KB
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.[5]

Activities and Projects[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 Agrarian Justice project brings together research and analysis on the collective struggles of rural working people to democratize access, ownership, and local, national and global alliance of small-scale farmers, fisherfolk and marginalized rural working people.

2. The Corporate Power project develops analysis and proposals on how to end corporate impunity and dismantle corporate power. It is a lead facilitator of the international movement "Stop Corporate Impunity" and supports international efforts to establish binding international legal obligations for TNCs.

3. The Drugs & Democracy project analyzes drug policies and trends in the illicit drugs market. TNI examines the underlying causes of drug production and consumption and the impacts of current drug policies on conflict, development and democracy. The program facilitates dialogue and advocates evidence-based policies, guided by principles of harm reduction and human right for users and producers.

4. The Environmental Justice project is part of the Economic Justice, Corporate Power and Alternative program. TNI's emerging work on the corporate expansion into air, water and nature as a whole builds on work dating back to the early 1990s on the privatization of nature, more recent work on critiquing carbon trading and current work on land and water grabbing. It also links closely to TNI's new program on corporate power and accountability.

5. The Myanmar in Focus project strengthens civil society and political actors to deal with the challenges brought about by the rapid opening-up of the country, while also working to bring about an inclusive and sustainable peace. TNI has developed a unique expertise on Myanmar's ethnic regions, and through its program is bringing the whole Institute's work on agrarian justice, alternative development and a human drugs policy together.

6. The Peace and Security project brings together cutting-edge analyzes of critical conflicts such as the war in Afghanistan and its regional implications and is pioneering research on the little-publicized spread on new security infrastructure in Europe and worldwide.

7. The Public Sector Alternatives project works to build a strong countervailing force that reverses privatization and helps construct democratic, accountable and effective public services. The project is also exploring the potential of other state-owned enterprises to lead an alternative, more human-centred and environmentally-sensitive development approach.

8. The Trade & Investment project opposes the European Union's corporate-driven trade and investment policies by providing well-researched analysis on its social and ecological impacts, supporting the development of popular campaigns and proposing alternative policies that priorities people's rights over corporate profits.

9. The Water Justice project, run jointly by TNI and corporate Europe and Observatory is engaged in the work of building viable alternatives to water privatization, focused on how to reform public water systems in order to make the human right to water a reality for everyone.

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.[6]


The Transnational Institute (TNI) was established in 1973 holding office at Paulus Potterstraat 20 (now De 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.[7]

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.[8]

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”[9] 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).[10] 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 on their website.

Fellows, Board and Contributors[edit]

Fellows: David Fig, Hilary Wainwright, Phyllis Bennis, Ben Hayes, Daniel Chavez, Edgardo Lander, Jun Borras

Board: Diederik van Iwaarden, Gisella Dütting, Mirjam van Reisen, Pauline Tiffen

Former fellows and contributors: Boris Kagarlitsky, Fred Halliday, John Cavanagh, John Gittings, Praful Bidwai, Richard Falk, Saul Landau, Susan George, Walden Bello, John Berger, Achin Vanaik, Basker Vashee, Brid Brennan, Dan Smith, David Bewley-Taylor, David Sogge, Dot Keet, Gonzalo Berrón, Howard Wachtel, Jochen Hippler, Joel Rocamora, Kamil Mahdi, Kees Biekart, Marcos Arruda, Mariano Aguirre, Martin Jelsma, Michael Shuman, Myriam Vander Stichele, Pauline Tiffen, Ricardo Vargas, Tom Reifer



  1. ^ Archives at the International Institute of Social History
  2. ^
  3. ^ Carroll, William. 2015. "Modes of Cognitive Praxis in Transnational Alternative Policy Groups". Globalizations, 1-18.
  4. ^ 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. ^ History at the website of the institute
  6. ^ Seattle to Brussels profile at Transnational Institute
  7. ^ TNI in 1974
  8. ^ Diuguid, Lewis H. (September 16, 1976), "Chile Decree Lifts Citizenship Of Ex-Ambassador Letelier", The Washington Post: p. A30
  9. ^ Black South Africa Explodes at
  10. ^ "Schedule of grants paid for the year ending June 30, 2009" Archived December 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Samuel Rubin Foundation
  11. ^ BBC news on 9-12-2011

External links[edit]