Annual Report 2005
In 2005, TNI had much to celebrate. Europe was a major theme for TNI in 2005, given the constitutional debates and referendums. TNI took this as its theme for the annual fellows meeting, hosted an international seminar on the construction of Europe, and published research on the distorting influence of Europe’s multinational corporations on security policy and sustainable development.
Message from the Director
In 2005, TNI had much to celebrate. We received an incredible gift from our long-time advisor on environmental matters and owner of our former premises, Hermann von Hatzfeldt, which enabled us to raise a loan to buy a beautiful 19th century red brick school building near the centre of Amsterdam. The move took place without a hitch and we still managed to host our annual fellows’ meeting the same month.
We also won a much-coveted award from the Lindesmith Foundation in recognition of our decade of work on international drug policy, and the outstanding role played by our colleague, Martin Jelsma. Martin was honoured as “one of, if not the, outstand- ing strategists in terms of how international institutions deal with drugs and drug policy” at a 1000-strong gathering of drug policy-makers in Los Angeles. TNI’s work on international drugs policy is being taken ever more seriously by governments and policy-makers across the world. The Hungarian government hosted the second informal international drugs policy dialogue co-organised by TNI and the Andreas Papandreou Foundation, and TNI gave the keynote address at a major international conference hosted by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
We were also given an audience by the European, Peruvian, Argentinean and Brazilian parliaments this year. Some progress is being made, with calls for harm reduction measures finding almost unanimous support in relation to the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the 2005 Commission on Narcotics Drugs, though the formal outcome did not reflect this after strong objections from the United States. In 2005, TNI continued to focus on illicit crop cultivation in Burma, Afghanistan and the Andean region, arguing forcefully that forced eradication without securing alternative livelihoods is a recipe for humanitarian crises and the fuelling of conflict.
Europe was a major theme for TNI in 2005, given the constitutional debates and referendums. TNI took this as its theme for the annual fellows meeting, hosted an international seminar on the construction of Europe, and published research on the distorting influence of Europe’s multinational corporations on security policy and sustainable development. At the same time, we put greater effort into strengthening European social movements and highlighting positive examples of European movements and local governments learning from innovations in the South. As part of this effort, our work on participatory democracy and the renewal of public services, partic- ularly as regards urban drinking water provision, has been greatly appreciated. A book published by the water justice network was sold out in the first few months, being reprinted twice and translated into three languages, with another six scheduled for 2006. A major effort is now being made, with some early results, to encourage Public-Public Partnerships between public water utilities in the North and the South as an alternative to Public-Private Partnerships and outright privatisations, and to encourage greater worker and consumer involvement in improving public services. Another popular book published by TNI – on participatory democracy – was also translated into three languages in the course of 2005. In all cases, the translations of TNI’s books this year were at the initiative of local governments or popular organisations.
All in all, it was a very busy year for TNI, with the Institute (co)organising 47 major events, plus two photo exhibitions and film screenings. We (co)organised nine public meetings and a photo exhibition in The Netherlands; 29 international seminars, seven international strategy meetings, a photo exhibition and film screenings, taking place variously in South Africa, the Philippines, China, Brazil, Uruguay, Spain and Scotland; and two major international policy dialogues - on international drugs policy and EU-Mexico relations respectively. TNI also participated actively in the Netherlands, Mediterranean, European and World Social Forums. We (co)published seven books, saw another six previously published books translated variously into Bahasa Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian; three Spanish/English briefing papers; three Spanish/English drug policy briefs; three reports and a four-language magazine supplement. In addition, we promoted the 208 articles and seven books written by our fellows, logged over 5 million hits on our website and increased the num- ber of subscribers to our biweekly newsletter to 4,600.
On the staffing front, we said goodbye to Sabra Bano, Jessica Bekker and Glynis Cooper, while welcoming to the team Kees Kimman, Gemma Galdón and Roeline Knottnerus. The full staff complement stood at 18.2 in 2005, excluding our freelance staff. We took on a record nine interns from different parts of the world, all but one studying in The Netherlands. Four very talented young people were supported by TNI’s Next Generation programme to do work complementary to TNI’s current programme, in all instances resulting in TNI publishing their writings. Financially, TNI managed to keep within its annual budget (Euro 2,263,185 - a 68% increase on the previous year). The equity accumulated up to the end of 2004 and the existing provision fund for building maintenance was used towards the cost of renovating the new offices. We are able to meet our loan repayments in respect of the purchase of the new premises through renting out offices. TNI’s equity at the end of 2005 stood at Euro 11,455.
2005 may have been a year of celebration, but it was also a year of profound sadness for the Institute. Our beloved former director, board member and resident fellow, Dr Basker Vashee, a fine African intellectual who struggled for justice in his birthplace of Zimbabwe all his life, and who had worked for TNI for three decades, died just a month after the move. As his “family” in The Netherlands, TNI had the honour of giving him the farewell he deserved, hosting a wake attended by friends who reflected the internationalist he was, and organising the funeral. We have since instituted a library, a fund for African activist-scholarship, and an annual lecture in his honour, all in the hope of the memory of Basker extend- ing a long way into the future.
On behalf of the Institute, I thank all staff, fellows and funders for the energy and commitment they put into a satisfyingly productive year; Hermann von Hatzfeldt for his unprecedented generosity; the friends and family of Basker Vashee who gave him the eulogies and the final farewell he deserved; and finally, Basker himself for being and for being ours.