Message from the Director

Every day TNI staff are communicating with allies around the world, providing the information, analysis, network connections and international policy access that social movements need to challenge entrenched power and effect meaningful alternatives.

2013 saw some remarkable breakthroughs. Our technical advice and engagement of governments on drug policy reform resulted in historic steps on Cannabis regulation in Uruguay. Our exposés of secretive investment dispute courts grabbed public attention and prompted reviews by the Dutch, Ecuadorian and Finnish governments, supported by UNCTAD. Our global campaign for internationally binding obligations for corporations found allies in 84 Southern governments. Our linking up of local communities struggling for control of water and land resulted in new transnational partnerships and a stronger voice for justice at critical  international fora.

Each one of these breakthroughs was many years in the making. These are Ideas with Impact.

“Your rich network of scholars, researchers and journalists helped to create the intellectual frame for the most important movements of my lifetime. I cannot describe how much I have learned from you, and relied upon you, over the years. Thank you for continuing to push yourselves, and all of us, to keep digging deeper.”

Naomi Klein  |  Author of 'The Shock Doctrine' and 'No Logo'

Transnational Institute

TNI seeks to strengthen international social movements with rigorous research, reliable information, sound analysis and constructive proposals that advance progressive, democratic policy change and common solutions to global problems.

In so doing, TNI acts as a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars and policy makers.

In Numbers

2013 in Review
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“TNI was set up at a critical time, when neoliberalism was preparing to take over with the message … that we are condemned to austerity policies, growing inequalities, and the transformation of the welfare State into the competitive State. TNI and others have fought the battle of ideas throughout these years to show that there is no fatality, and that another world is possible.”

Olivier De Schutter  |  United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

In Focus

Putting secretive investment courts in the political spotlight

Do you think citizens have the right in a democracy to curb nuclear power or require ‘plain packaging’ for cigarettes to protect people’s health? Probably yes. But most people don’t know that these actions have led to states being sued in secretive investment courts for billions of dollars by global corporations. TNI’s long-term work to highlight the social and environmental costs of investment agreements finally gained significant traction in 2013.

TNI’s publication with Corporate Europe Observatory of two highly praised reports, Profiting from Injustice (in Spanish) and Profiting from Crisis led to 67 separate articles in 18 countries’ national media. President Correa of Ecuador even brandished our report in his opening address to Congress and invited TNI researcher Cecilia Olivet to join a commission to audit Bilateral Investment Agreements.

As EU-US negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) began, TNI released research on the dangers of including investment protection mechanisms in the treaty. By the end of 2013, growing public concern had forced both the Dutch government and the European Commission to agree to investigate and review investment protection mechanisms.

“For La Via Campesina and the peasant movement one of the central conflicts is the one between peasant based and corporate driven agriculture. Over the last years TNI has taken up an important role in the work on corporate issues. These issues have taken new relevance with issues such as land grabbing and resource grabbing …. We really hope that you can strengthen your work …and continue to be a very valuable ally of our movements.”

Elizabeth Mpofu  |  President La Via Campesina International, Harare, Zimbabwe

Strengthening the voice of communities in the South

In any given month, TNI staff can be found across the globe at workshops and meetings supporting local communities fighting for dignity.

In 2013, for example, TNI organised workshops throughout Burma that have helped an emerging civil society engage more fully with critical debates on trade, land and drug policy. In Mozambique, TNI worked with a small farmers federation (UNAC) to produce a film on the role of EU pension funds in local landgrabbing  and organised a lobbying tour in which farmers came to Europe to talk directly about their experiences. At an international level, we support alliances such as La Via Campesina, the international federation of family farmers.

Our long history of solidarity and coalition-building together with our expertise on issues such as trade, public services, drugs policy and land grabbing has made us a deeply respected partner for many civil society organisations in the South.

“I have had the honour and privilege to work with TNI’s drug policy team since the 1990s. Together, we helped lay the foundations for the drug policy debate taking place in Latin America today… TNI brings an impressive amount of information and analysis to that debate, as well as an intimate understanding of the international drug control regime. And of particular significance, TNI always seeks to have the voices of those impacted by punitive drug control policies – such as coca growers and drug users – heard at the national, regional and international level.”

Coletta Youngers  |  Senior Fellow, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

Supporting a historic step forward in Uruguay

History was made in Uruguay in 2013 as it became the first country in the world to end the prohibition of cannabis and introduce a state regulated market. TNI has played an important role in advising the Uruguayan government and organising a dialogue in Uruguay in April that was attended by a range of international experts. A member of TNI’s team is on the national commission that will monitor the application of the law.

TNI produced a series of policy briefs exploring Uruguay’s decision in the context of international drug law. An infographic on Uruguay’s historic move was TNI’s most popular online resource ever, clocking up more than 110,000 views in 2013. The regulation of cannabis in two US states in 2013 also contributed to the ferment. The trend is sparking a broader debate on alternatives to the existing UN drugs regime, and TNI is at the heart of that debate.

At the heart of the battle to stop corporate impunity

In 2013, 84 governments submitted a petition to the UN Human Rights Council calling for binding rules on transnational corporations. This historic call was a testament to the growing public awareness and political pressure created by the dynamic  civil society campaign, Stop Corporate Impunity, that TNI co-initiated in 2012 and continued to build in 2013.

Tragedies such as the death of over a thousand clothing workers in Bangladesh and the Marikana massacre of miners in South Africa have galvanised public concern about the ethics of transnational corporations and whether voluntary measures are sufficient to address ongoing corporate impunity. 36 new organisations and networks from 19 countries joined the campaign network in 2013, bringing the total number of participating groups to 159 from 35 countries.

Building alliances in support of public water

In March 2013, Joko Widodo, the governor of Jakarta in Indonesia, announced the city would take back control of their water. The victory prompted big celebrations by a coalition of community groups including Amrta Institute who had spent many years fighting  water privatisation. But the coalition’s work has really just begun as the resolute citizens are now fighting to ensure that the new public water utility delivers clean water for all and is accountable to its users.

TNI will continue to stand alongside Amrta Institute – as it has for many years – providing information, sharing learning from other cities, mobilising international solidarity, and facilitating cooperation between public utilities. TNI does this through its coordination of the international Reclaiming Public Water (RPW) network, which has more than 300 member organisations including trade unions, public water utilities and citizens groups in 58 countries – 15 joined in 2013.

In Europe, TNI was also part of a huge cross-European effort in 2013 to mobilise 1.9 million signatures for the first successful European Citizens’ Initiative to keep water in public hands and declare water a human right.  In response, the European Commission removed water from the EU Concessions Directive, which would have put pressure on municipalities to privatise.

Click on the thumbnail to view full reports
Most popular publications of 2013
  • State of Power 2013
  • How to Win the Class War
  • Privatising Europe
  • Land concentration, land grabbing and people’s struggles in Europe
  • The Global Water Grab Primer
  • Developing Disparity
  • Cuando la Injusticia es Negocio
  • Human Rights and Drug Policy Primer

“TNI has been a constant partner and pillar of trade and investment campaigns across the region. A partner in the truest sense of the word – generous in sharing critical information and on the spot analysis, providing guidance and leadership in paving unchartered terrain, and most importantly helping create and broaden spaces for creative thinking and progressive action.”

Joseph Purugganan  |  on behalf of the EU-ASEAN Network
TNI Fellows
Prof. Achin Vanaik
Dr. Ben Hayes
Dr. Daniel Chavez
Dr. David Fig
Prof. Edgardo Lander
Dr. Hilary Wainwright
Dr. Jun Borras
Phyllis Bennis
Praful Bidwai
Associate Fellows

Dot Keet
Dr. Gonzalo Berrón

Dr. David Bewley-Taylor
Pauline Tiffen

Dr. Ricardo Vargas
Dr. Tom Reifer


Dr. Boris Kagarlitsky
Dr. Howard Wachtel
Dr. Jochen Hippler
Dr. Joel Rocamora

John Cavanagh
Dr. Kamil Mahdi
Dr. Kees Biekart
Dr. Marcos Arruda

Mariano Aguirre
Myriam Vander Stichele
Dr. Walden Bello

Board of Advisors

Dr Godfried van Benthem van den Berg (Netherlands)
Bob Debus (Australia)
James Early (USA)

Halle-Jorn Hannsen (Norway)
Hermann von Hatzfeldt (Germany)
Christine Merkel (Germany)

Prof Jan Pronk (Netherlands)
Peter Weiss (USA)
Roger van Zwanenburg (UK)

Board of Directors
Dr Susan George
Gisela Dutting
David Sogge
Prof Mirjam van Reisen


Fiona Dove (Executive Director)
Lia van Wijk (Finance Manager)
Rozemarijn Vermeulen (Bureau Manager)
Martin Jelsma (Drugs Programme)
Pietje Vervest (Economic Justice Programme)
Brid Brennan (Economic Justice Programme)


Nick Buxton (Coordinator, freelance, USA)
Tessa Kersten
Sapi Ullrich
Bea Martinez (Spain)


Kees Kimman (Finance Officer)
Katja Gertman (volunteer)


Susan Medeiros
Mojca Lovrencak (volunteer)
Albi Janssen
Sebastian Stellingwerff (consultant)
Herman Wissink (volunteer)
David Terlingen (volunteer)


Amira Armenta
Tom Blickman
Ernestien Jensema
Satoko Kishimoto
Pien Metaal
Cecilia Olivet
Hilde van der Pas
Gonzalo Berron (Brazil)
Diana Aguiar Orrico (Brazil)
Tim Feodoroff (France/Netherlands)
Lyda Fernanda Forrero Torres (Colombia)
Sol Trumbo Villas (Spain/Netherlands)
Tom Kramer (Netherlands/Burma)
Dr. Jennifer Franco (Research associate, Netherlands)
Sylvia Kay (Research associate, Netherlands)
Dr. Vicki Sentas (Research associate, Australia)
Dr. Gavin Sullivan (Research associate, Australia/Netherlands)
Dr. Louise Boon-Kuo (Research associate, Australia)
Dr. Kevin Woods (Research associate, Burma)


María Barral Martínez (Spain)
Isaac Gray (Canada)
Inge Hordijk (Netherlands)
Seongcheol Kim (South Korea)
Melissa Koutouzis (Netherlands)
Zhe Li (China)
Gloria Pracucci (Italy)


Alexandra Collier (UK)
Christine Lewis Carroll
Celia Drumond (UK)
Ruud Tevreden (Netherlands)
Lenin Valencia (Peru)
Daniel Gomez (Netherlands)