At the Edge (11-13 November 1999)

17 November 2005


Towards 21st Century Internationalism

TNI 25th Anniversary

Dedicated to the memories of
Samuel Rubin
Eqbal Ahmad
Orlando Letelier

Globalisation and Its Contradictions  

The globalisation of market relations and the collapse of the communist system are associated with not less, but more, social inequality. The fact that the world is not only more unequal than ever before but is vividly perceived by much of the world's population as being so, can have explosive consequences for states and elites in the next century. How will the historical tables turn in the new century?

Mobilisation Against Globalisation: Focus on the WTO  

Only weeks after the TNI Festival, the governments of the world were due to meet in Seattle, USA, for the third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization. Many at the Festival were aware of, or indeed involved in, the preparations for Seattle, when hundreds of NGOs and other organisations of civil society planned to demonstrate, calling for a comprehensive review of the WTO and its activities.

Cultural Globalisation: MacDonaldisation or Cultural Mélange?  

Culture has been a vital dimension of colonialism and imperialism, and is now a vital dimension of globalisation. A familiar concept is that of 'MacDonaldisation' or 'homogenisation' as a commercialised American culture is promoted worldwide through the mass media and advertising corporations.

Talking Art and Contemporary Politics  

Artists around the world are catalysing "Culture Wars" among politicians, pundits and public groups through provocative aesthetic representations of religion, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, war and politics. Does art/can art help alter power inequities that imperil the lives of ordinary people?

On Preserving Capitalism in the 21st Century: The Lugano Report  

A multi-disciplinary Working Party, convened to consider the future of the world economy, concludes that it is grossly under-managed, gravely threatened by its own excesses, prone to ecological collapse and an unlikely candidate for long-term survival. How then can the winners in the globalisation game guarantee their own comfortable future? There is a way, but one that may be too awful to contemplate. In her Annex to the The Lugano Report, Susan George writes, "this book is intended to afflict the comfortable without, alas, providing much comfort to the afflicted. But these are not pretty times and the stakes are high".

Global Environmentalism: Seeking Common Ground  

Addressing environmental issues increasingly demands the cooperation of governments and civil society transnationally. Nowhere is this more evident than in the linkages between natural resource depletion, atmospheric pollution and global climate change. How is the system of international cooperation on the environment evolving and where are the fault lines?

The Pinochet Case: Implications for International Human Rights Law  

This session dealt with the importance of the Pinochet case for the development of the international law of human rights. It examined how universal jurisdiction for universal crimes is developing and how to overcome the problem of immunity for Heads of State and other government officials obstructing justice. The relationship between such cases against individuals and the International Criminal Court was also discussed.

Social Movements in Search of a New Politics?  

This session was about new directions in political thinking and the complex relationship between social movements and political parties. The four panelists represented the continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America, and each one represented a social movement, political party or both.

Humanitarian Intervention and Contemporary Wars  

The panel was asked to critically discuss the veritable minefield of complex issues related to humanitarian intervention today. This will include the roles of the media and the UN; the difficulties of humanitarian aid-deliverers in maintaining and being accorded neutral status; the consistent application of internal law and the basis for the legitimacy of multilateral military invasions on humanitarian grounds. The bottom line is, what does one do when genocide and mass displacement are taking place and international diplomacy has failed? Is there a middle way between doing nothing on the grounds of respect for national sovereignty, leaving the adversaries to battle it out to the bitter end and an invasion force bombing the territory into a settlement?

The Next Intervention? Colombian Conflict and International Responses   

In spite of the renewed attempt to get a peace process off the ground, the armed conflict in Colombia is intensifying, while taking on increasing significance regionally and internationally. The USA’s direct involvement exceeds even that of its heyday of intervention in Central America during the Cold War, with hundreds of advisors already in place in Colombia, military aid figures tripling each year, and its planes involved with counter-insurgency operations. Europe could play a countervailing role in supporting the peace process, but has chosen to keep its distance for now. The Netherlands, meanwhile, has agreed to aid the USA’s interventionist plans for Colombia by hosting US military anti-drug bases on in the Dutch Antilles.

NATO after Kosovo  

The first session was concerned with NATO out-of-area operations, eastward expansion and European security issues, in light of the Kosovo War. The implications of the divisions in NATO which emerged subsequently were discussed, as was the effect of pouring salt on Russian wounds. The second session was concerned with the widening gap between European and North American views on nuclear security. Speakers considered the implications of the US Senate's failure to ratify to Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, South Asian Nuclearisation, and pressures to de-nuclearise emerging from such initiatives as the New Agenda Coalition, the Middle Powers' Initiative and the World Court Project.

What Future the Nation State?  

The future of the 'nation state' seems in doubt. On the one hand, economic, political and cultural globalization seemingly is undercutting the state's ability to function. But is it true that the nation state is doomed?

The Third Way and the Need for a New Politics  

It is easy to dismiss talk of the 'Third Way' as an empty rhetorical space exploited by centre-left politicians to consolidate right-wing solutions. But what are the left-wing solutions capable of generating popular support after the Cold War? Are Blair's Third Way, Schröder's Neue Mitte and Jospin's New Socialism genuinely novel strategies? Is their shared agenda to legitimise acquiescence to globalisation or do they represent an opportunity to resist the fatalism that so favours the domination of the corporations?

Towards a New Internationalism: Closing Plenary  

In the closing session, participants were invited to pull together the many and varied strands of the Festival and look for a synthesis. As Fiona Dove said, there was present an extraordinary range of people, interests and competences, and a wealth of diversity of opinion, ideas and challenges offered. She encouraged the participants to find the linkages between issues of peace and governance, the global economy and democratization, between North and South, and to take these back into their own work. The most important linkage of all is the one between ideas and action.