In this article, the authors examine various questions regarding the new expressions of international contestation, analysing answers and reactions from states to the emergence of non-governmental actors opposed to the present world order who claim to propose alternatives to neo-liberal governance. To do so, the authors identify some of the more visible movements of contestation against economic globalisation, like the Seattle, Prague, and Genoa demonstrations, and, first of all, the four editions of the World Social Forum that have taken place, first in Porto Alegre and latterly in Mumbai. At the same time, the article shows the interstate relations that aim to control and if necessary repress these movements, particularly after the attacks on September 11, 2001, and surveys the main legal measures adopted by governments and international institutions, in particular within the European Union. Finally, an account is given of certain strategies to “jurisdictionalise” international conflicts, which some new kinds of litigants purport to use to give legitimacy and visibility to contested claims by directing them to a third-party adjudicator (a tribunal, a mediator, a humanitarian body, etc.).

Bio note

Raúl Enrique Rojo is a professor and researcher in the Sociology Department and the Law, International Relations and Sociology Post Graduate Programmes at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil). He has published around fifty works about juridical and political sociology. His most recent publication is Sociedade e direito no Quebec e no Brasil (2003).

E-mail: raulrojo@vortex.ufrgs.br

Carlos R. S. Milani is a professor and researcher from the Organisational Studies Department and the Post Graduate Programme at the School of Administration of the Federal University of Bahia (Salvador, Brazil). He is the author of numerous articles and co-author of books about the various dimensions of globalisation, market regulations, international democracy, and the World Social Forum, among them Democracia e governança mundial, co-published in 2002 by UNESCO, and ONG et Gouvernance dans le monde arabe, jointly published in 2004 by the CEDEJ (Cairo) and Karthala.

E-mail: cmilani@ufba.br

Carlos Schmidt Arturi is a professor and researcher in the Post-Graduate? Programme for International Relations and the Department and Post-Graduate? Programme in Political Science at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil). As coordinator of the latter he works on the transformation of the state as well as international conflicts. His most recent work is Os desafios para a instauração de uma governança mundial democrática na atual conjuntura internacional (2003).

E-mail: carlos.arturi@ufrgs.br



After the demonstrations against economic globalisation in Seattle, Prague, Nice, Genoa, and especially after the successive World Social Forums (WSF) in Porto Alegre (Brazil) and Mumbai (India), the so-called movements of international contestation have turned from a logic of reflection and debate to a dynamics of resistance and contestation against the political and economic world system. The two editions of the Forum in 2001 and 2002 showed that the numerous participants (more than 100.000) did not restrict themselves to more or less noisy expression of their opposition to the neo-liberal orientation of globalisation and to the hegemonic ideology. They further intended to discuss, beyond street demonstrations and the various spaces created to accommodate them, possible alternatives for a fairer, social, and environmentally sustainable world. In these terms, the 2003 meeting was, as its organisers note, a turning point.1 Primarily on the basis of the Charter of Principles adopted and approved in 2001, there was a group of concrete proposals to realise the values of justice, solidarity, and democratic participation; these alternative proposals and strategies were enriched one year later in Mumbai, when the attendants added a critique of war, religious fundamentalism, and gender or caste discrimination.

The success of the four WSFs and the subsequent regional and thematic meetings, measured in terms of media coverage and participation, is due, among other reasons, to the growth of the global movement of political contestation against a certain world order that claims to reduce the economy to its market aspect and politics to its governmental dimension. Regional forums (the American Social Forum, the African Social Forum, the Asian Social Forum, the European Social Forum, the Pan-Amazonian? Social Forum, the Mediterranean Social Forum) and thematic forums (on democracy, human rights, and drug trafficking and war in Colombia, the Argentinean Thematic Social Forum, the Palestinian Thematic Social Forum) were organised to create public spaces of political debate, as well as a political negotiation agenda that is non-centralised and closer to the social actors in different countries and continents. These Forums have also proved able to link heterogeneous movements inside the WSF and to associate national social problems with the economic and financial mechanisms of the global system. Hence, the thematic and regional Forums have succeeded in connecting social, political, and economic national problems with the global cause of contesting economic globalisation. The European Social Forum is an illustration of this idea, because, among other factors, it made possible the coalition, in 2003, of the anti-war and the social movements in demonstrations against the dismantling of the welfare state in the European Union countries and the Anglo-American? invasion of Iraq.

In fact, this process of thematic and regional linkage of the WSF has widened media coverage across the continents. However, debate about appropriate global regulation of democracy and society was stimulated not only by the media but also, particularly, by the open wounds of economic globalisation, the meaninglessness and the “clean” wars of the new world order, and also by the new international actors that appeared at the end of the Cold War (NGOs, regional blocs, transnational companies, forums, scientific networks, and epistemic communities). That is why, inter alia, the new world order that was born in the 1990s is centrally characterised by a perverse confluence between two processes: the project of democratisation and participation, in which one can find some expressions that are segments of the movements present within the WSF; and the neo-liberal project. The existence of an active civil society is a sine qua non condition of both historical processes. However, their definitions of civil society, participation and citizenship are completely different. The neo-liberal project also reaffirms a version of world governance that privileges economics over politics. This version of world governance still predominates, for example in multilateral trade negotiations. The democratic and participatory project, at the same time, supports reform of the world system (including the United Nations), which would give a place to the political organisation and participation of new actors in international negotiation processes.

However, things are not that easy: the constitution of a global public and democratic space faces a series of problems that derive from the virtual absence of forums where the various world actors can meet and debate; from the intergovernmental and multilateral crisis that was heightened after the September 11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq; from the heterogeneity of the proposals and actors that make up the anti- and alternative globalisation movements; from the disparate levels of political development of national democracies; from some NGOs’ preference for direct relations with the international institutions and large corporations; from the lack of legitimacy of many associations and NGOs; and, finally, from the use of violence by some protest groups. The perverse confluence referred to earlier also makes things more complex because it creates ambiguities and difficulties in identifying the strategies of new and old international actors with respect to the radicalisation and deepening of world system reform. For example, which members of civil society should take part in international negotiations? And who should decide?

Current international relations are characterised by the old world order, by the bipolar rigidity and predictability that were features of the Cold War, as well as by the transition in the 1990s towards an as yet undefined new order. Which conflicts are on the horizon? Which are the relevant actors? What are their intentions? How are they organised and how do they act? With which institutional and coercive actions have states responded to movements protesting against economic neo-liberal globalisation? Which institutions, organs, and interstate and / or community agreements are used to watch, control and / or repress these movements? In this article, our purpose is not to give definitive answers to these questions, which are crucial to understanding current international relations. What is important for us, rather, is to organise the questions that are on our research agendas. For this purpose, we have divided the article into four sections. In the first, we present some theoretical considerations that underlie our hypotheses; in the second, third and fourth we develop each of our current research hypotheses.

Brief theoretical considerations

The globalisation of capitalism and the emergence of non-state actors on the international scene in recent decades echo the origins of concepts such as Raymond Aron’s “international or world society” (Villa, 1999 p. 22). Unlike “classic realism”, Aron’s definition (which includes an inter-state system as well as an economic system, transnational movements, international institutions and societies) recognises the existence and influence of actors other than national states in international politics (Castro, 2001). The reasons for the end of states’ exclusive monopoly on the international scene are numerous and interdependent, such as the emergence of powerful multinational firms as a result of the global expansion of capitalism, the transformed capitalist regime of financial accumulation, the creation of international and multilateral institutions, the formation of economic and community blocks, the development of information and communication technologies, the emergence of internationally active NGOs, and more recently, the birth and organisation of international protest movements against the neo-liberal order.

According to Tarrow, two concurrent processes underpin globalisation: the internationalisation of politics through the emergence of transnational actors, networks and institutions, and the economic integration produced by the giddy growth of international trade, the media and financial integration (Tarrow, 2002). In this sense, globalisation itself favours the expression of international contestation when it creates opportunity structures and produces favourable circumstances for the acts of anti- / alternative globalisation movements. Social movements and the protest organisations (including such diverse groups as the labour unions of different continents, Latin American groups of rural and indigenous women, Amnesty International, ATTAC, Madre Tierra, the Free Software Movement, the landless movement in Brazil, Africa and Bangladesh, the Arab NGO Network for Development, CLACSO in Latin America, CUT and IBASE in Brazil, Greenpeace, Focus on the Global South, Narmada in India, and universities and newspapers from all over the world) get together and demonstrate on the occasion of the huge meetings sponsored by the multilateral institutions that conceive and implement neo-liberal policies (Ayres, 2002).

The international environment and its rules have changed due to the diversification of political actors and centres of power, the emergence of a more decentralised and less hierarchical political agenda, the constitution of international regimes and the creation of transnational cooperation networks. These changes create the conditions for new global, especially multilateral and non-state, actors. This empirical international relations reality obliges us, from a theoretical and from a methodological point of view, to analyse and understand political phenomena in global terms: to go from international to global analysis, in the framework of which a great diversity of actors and strategic logics is present, thus constitutes a major challenge for the social sciences. Concepts like civil society and world governance appear frequently in analyses that seek to bring in new theoretical references in order to understand the emergence of a new political space and actors that are really global.

Analyses that combine “realist”, “institutional” and “constructivist” theories are increasingly called upon to explain globalisation. John MacLean?, for example, proposes rethinking the philosophical roots of international relations as a discipline, because they already (in an explicit or implicit way) serve to constrain our understanding of what we define as globalisation. For this reason, MacLean? – who defines international relations as context-dependent social practices with implicit effects on actors, processes, and strategies – proposes that the production of knowledge in this area should be regarded as a social process. Consequently, globalisation and the construction of a new world order should be analysed as the result of determinate social relations and not as a static reality, thus going beyond abstractions, taking care of contexts, and restoring the dimensions of time and space. For MacLean?, world order should be seen neither disjunctively nor in an exclusively political, economic, or cultural way, but as additive, that is by distinguishing the combined dimensions of its strategies of conformation (MacLean, 2000).

As for the conflicts within neo-liberal globalisation and protest movements against it, there are immensely diverse groups, in terms of organisation, performance, and objectives (typically contradictory), as well as power and resources. We could adopt here Fougier’s definition of what he calls the “globalisation contestation movements”: “a nebula of groups and individuals who denounce the negative consequences of the present globalisation process – described by them as ‘liberal’ or ‘neo-liberal’ – and seek to change its course in a direction closer to their ideals and objectives, using various forms of action” (Fougier, 2002, p. 843). However, we prefer to use “anti-globalisation” for these protest movements, many of which propose an alternative globalisation, based on different suggestions about the current dynamics of the global expansion of capitalism, to the point of defining themselves as an “alternative” globalisation movement (“altermondialiste”, in the influential French phrase). In fact the heterogeneity of these movements is enormous, from anarchist groups and left revolutionaries to more “pragmatic” movements focused on specific demand, as well as the various reformists of the global order, whether “internationalist” or “sovereignist” in orientation. Their strong emergence on the international scene is the result both of the damage produced by economic globalisation and of the global democratic deficit along with the limits of representative democracy inside national states (Montes, 2001).

The reaction of states, in particular of major powers, to international anti-globalisation protests can be regarded, according to Negri and Hardt, as one form of the constitution of “Empire”, which is formed by a group of powers that, finding itself under North American hegemony, bases its argument on the military power of the United States of America (USA) and the creation of international legislation represented by this new model of authority, as if it were in the service of democracy, law and peace (Hardt & Negri, 2001). In other, more traditional, conceptions, the response to protest could be seen as the expression of necessary unilateral measures adopted by the major powers (especially by the USA) after the September 11 attacks. Regardless of the justification, it seems obvious that the expansion and linkage of intelligence agencies between states represents a risk to democracy in international relations, even within states, where it frequently it implies the erosion of diplomacy, predominance of the executive, and lack of accountability. Indeed the expansion, closer relations and growing synergy between police intelligence units and national security agencies, which Cepik has confirmed within states in recent decades, can also take place (in more or less formal and organised ways) on an international scale between the agencies and institutions of different jurisdictions (Cepik, 2003, p. 75 and 93).

Finally, another constitutive process, which aims at judicialising certain conflicts between the international contestation movements and some states, is part of a broader trend observable in Western countries. A major political transformation is currently under way in many countries, as the proper space of democracy moves from the capitol to the forum. This is, precisely, judicialisation: a new conception of politics that, in contrast to older conceptions, privileges arbitration over administration (Engel & Garapon, 2001). Administration is not disappearing, but it is being replaced by the legal system as a space where democracy is built. Arbitration democracy is not just democracy regulated by law but also by a regime that projects its ideal on judicial process and argument rather than on administration. This is why contemporary democracy puts so much weight on transparency, third-party mediation and adversarial proceedings: all of these being procedures that propose to rationalise the confrontation of divergent interests rather than to secure directly, via specialised techniques, the general interest. Procedure has become the language of our democracies and the greater power of the legal system gives us a new political vocabulary. In reality, however, more than judicial process, conflict is the true processor of social dynamics.

And conflict, of course, is a means of regulation ensured, in the absence of any external guarantee, by the ability of divergent interests to confront each other in a space conceived for that purpose. Even if no one subscribes to the general interest, it can still emerge from a kind of “cold war” logic based on mutual respect mediated by lawyers. The public space is no longer pre-established and stable, but rather a space designed for collective action, in which we can move ahead with our conflicts. For conflict is not merely destructive. It recognises the “other” as a “party”; it presupposes opponents endowed with autonomy rather than confined within infantile motives. Participation in conflict requires all participants to be frank about their interests rather than hiding behind virtue, which forces the confrontation the state is concerned to avoid.

Legal process thus appears to be just one form of conflict regulation. As conflict takes shape, it creates its own antidote, as shown by the informal conflict resolution movement. The ideas of negotiation, compromise, and arbitration, even if designed to avoid judicial intervention, are part of the same conceptual order: they come to replace the asymmetrical relation between the state and its citizens. Ability to manage confrontation and to organise as a respected and important collective actor frames the new language of political protest, both nationally and internationally. These facts are somewhat curious, especially considering their political origin.2 They call on instruments regarded as conservative (such as judicial processes), yet those who appeal to them have an implicit conviction that they have the capacity to produce change as well as a certain optimism about citizen power.

These events also imply recognition of the changes that have come about in international politics in recent years. In spite of the erosion of law in certain cases and notable cases of regression that have characterised the politics of numerous states with respect to the hierarchy of legal norms that can be invoked in domestic cases,3 an increasing series of lawsuits brought by non-governmental organisations or citizen groups advised by them demonstrate that appeal to the law has a new place in international protest. These appeals and suits could be new evidence of they way in which (state or corporate) power, as well as the claims and resistance they generate, find legitimacy and grounding in the language of rights or in denunciation of rights violations. Thus we might identify a jurisdictionalisation of international conflicts4 the protagonists of which are some at least of the new actors of the international sphere.

But this could be wrong. The movement that we think we have identified is understood as the tendency to submit international conflicts for solution to a symbolic body capable of providing collective references: a judicial tribunal (international or domestic), a humanitarian body, or a private mediator. What citizens seek is the pronouncement of justice. To speak is the first and sometimes only mission of the private mediator. Note that, throughout the history of Western law, justice has been a matter of public pronouncement. As the etymology of “juris-diction” indicates, it is about stating the law and proclaiming what is just.

We believe that, rather than judicialisation, we should talk of a jurisdictionalisation of international conflicts in order to describe the process initiated by the emergence of social actors that, recognizing themselves as legal subjects, take the decision to submit their rejection of certain aspects of international reality to the procedures of a tribunal or to third-party adjudication (whether by a person from a humanitarian administration or from the private sphere). Apart from the demand for legitimacy, another characteristic of this strategy is the search for public impact for questions that could be ignored. For example, in many of the cases stemming from the practice of so-called “universal competence” (the Pinochet affair in Great Britain / Spain / Chile, the Cavallo affair in Spain / Mexico / Argentina and the various cases in Belgium resulting from the Rwandan genocide), what was at stake was the clarification of what had happened, rather than punishment for the criminals. Ultimately, what these cases are about is preventing the supposed “right to forget” from prevailing over the “right to remember”. Since we must maintain memories of horror, a pedagogy of remembrance, of feelings, of terror is necessary. In its absence, some monstrosities of history would be reserved for specialists, and in a few years new third world “revisionists” would deny the Kigali massacre or the torture chambers of Santiago and Buenos Aires in the same way as European “revisionists” try to deny the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Treblinka.

From the perspective of the political system of states, jurisdictionalisation of international protest at least obliges states to take (judicial or political) decisions about conflicts that, if left solely to political discussion, could remain unresolved in the absence of legal provisions binding states to take a stand. From the actors’ perspective, what is important is the hope for an end to political impasse. Yet jurisdictionalisation can have a reverse effect and may turn itself into a mechanism to delay decisions. Certainly, appeal to law and its magistrates may allow political powers to give the appearance of dealing with the matter, whereas in reality resolution is suspended by moving issues to a more technical space the dynamics of which citizens can hardly control or accelerate (Rojo, 2004).

From a citizen perspective, jurisdictionalisation has thus become an alternative resource for political petitioning, a new mechanism to articulate and institutionalise international protest. But every time a conflict is jurisdictionalised, it is also de-socialised as social actors are broken down into isolated citizens.5 Nevertheless, this strategy could also enable them to overcome the difficulties of collective action and to articulate and augment their political will. In consequence, when obstacles to the organisation of efficient public action condemn citizens to defencelessness, jurisdictionalisation seems to be a strategy to avoid abandoning one’s aspirations, even though the anticipated results cannot be guaranteed in advance. Citizens seem to have discovered the importance of the way in which legal conflicts are managed. We think that demands for jurisdictional control, in states enjoying the rule of law, could be crucial to the dynamics of resistance and alternative proposals for a fairer world. These cases seem to indicate that citizens have understood that turning to rules and defending them is one of the games that people play in the polis.

The immense impact of the World Social Forum and of other forms of protest against globalisation demand, in this way, a re-thinking of the role and functions of non-governmental actors in international relations as well as the possible reactions of the states to control and supervise them.

Hypothesis 1: The WSF is the expression of new transnational political protest

The agents of civil society, with their diversity of values and political projects but also their common denominator of struggle against a certain vision of economic globalisation, have become actors and central characters in international relations. Political leaders can no longer ignore them. Especially since the beginning of the 1990s, the current historical moment has been marked by the crisis of political representation and by the emancipation of individuals, non-governmental organisations and networks as actors of the global system (Girard, 1994). In this way, civil society, which was long considered merely an ersatz of the state, has achieved active presence not only in local and national politics, but also in international relations. Consequently, it is necessary for international relations to consider the articulation between civil society and the state, and between agencies of international cooperation and the private sector, on the various scales of power, but above all within world politics.

A first step towards acknowledgement of the importance of these actors came when several civil society agents, NGOs, and other collective groups joined in forums that took place parallel to world events that were organised by international institutions (e.g. the UN conferences “Rio-92”, “Habitat”, “Beijing-95”, etc.) and when, mainly starting with the 1992 Rio de Janeiro meeting, NGO representatives were included in governmental delegations, especially in those from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. The second step was taken after the street demonstrations in Seattle, Prague and Nice, when the WSF organised itself and obtained worldwide recognition of its relevance and peculiarities.

For a long time, the blurred edges of civil society served global political bodies as an excuse not to consider the positions of NGOs and transnationally organised associations and social movements. The reasons given for this lack of attention have been, generally speaking, the heterogeneity of the collective networks and the diversity of their struggles. How can one have a dialogue with actors that have such heterogeneous interests? What might the political representation of the organised actors of civil society be? However, it is necessary to recognise that while Porto Alegre and Mumbai were the reflection of the diversity of contemporary social movements, they also show the results of all the viewpoints and visions of the world that make up such movements. For example, the struggle against the terrible effects of neo-liberal globalisation and the desire to build one global civil society are common points, according to the organisers, starting from which may unchain convergent processes of resistance and struggle against the order imposed by the capitalist market and for the construction of democratic alternatives.

As transnationalised capital leads to systemic changes in the accumulation regime (which gradually becomes global rather than national or international), civil society movements and agents tend to organise and constitute themselves in a transnational way. Even when there are differences about the desired new order (reformed capitalism, new socialism, or world anarchy), the democratic character of participation in collective action and decision-making define a common denominator in their action platform and in the need to articulate interests and objectives on a global level. The diversity of civil society then becomes a source of wealth, not weakness, in the search for radical democratic reform on a global level. Consequently, in the present context, it is important to analyse and understand the role of these actors, their functions in the transformation of the world-system, and their concrete perspectives, practices and politics, frequently challenging governmental actors’ traditional practices.

The crisis of representative and liberal democracy is another essential element to understand the emergence of actors such as the space-movement of the WSF as part of so-called world civil society. This is due to two reasons. On the one hand, because of the distance between the rhetoric and practice of people in positions of political responsibility, election manifestoes are not necessarily translated into action or concrete political and social change; furthermore, the demands expressed in street demonstrations do not necessarily obtain a response from the traditional political system. In the case of international relations, some observers remind us that intergovernmentalism is currently in crisis (Badie & Smouts, 1992).

On the other hand, the questioning of the advances of liberal democracy starts from the analysis of the limits of the possible convergences between the logic of democracy (as a result of determinate historical processes) and the dynamics of the capitalist market (which need quantitative and tangible results). For instance, in the face of severe environmental problems and current social inequalities, is it possible to make the free expansion of the capitalist market compatible with sustainable development? Can we still think that the recipes of the econometric models that influence macroeconomic adjustment programmes in Latin American are compatible with the implementation of effective social policies in the field of health and education?

Hence citizens’ political commitments no longer tend to express themselves only and exclusively within political parties and through democratic elections (important as both of these are): to be a citizen and to participate politically starting from NGOs and associative or cooperative networks seems to have become an important expression of contemporary ways of conceiving and doing politics. This practice of political participation has its bases in ethical and moral demands for coherence between acts and words. Political transformation (i.e. political change on different levels) is also a matter, according to the discourse of the actors of protest, of transforming individual and daily practices. It is about guaranteeing a minimum of coherence between the micro-level, i.e. the individual, and the macro-level, i.e. the collectivity. For instance, how can the efficiency and the social effectiveness of the international agreements on environmental protection be guaranteed without parallel changes in the behaviour of consumers and citizens? The WSF actors state that they are looking for coherent practices with respect to certain political discourses; they seem to want to define a new mobilising utopia and a process of construction of new meanings of democracy.

Hypothesis 2: States organise interstate security governance

In response to international protest demonstrations (as shown clearly by events in Gothenburg and Genoa in June and July 2001, respectively), there is now a discernible tendency for the forces of law and order to try to strip the protests of their political content and their original causes, to the point, ultimately, of promoting their criminalisation. In this sense, a striking process of intergovernmental ultra-security policies is now starting to unfold globally, and it has worsened since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the USA. From that time, judicial-legal means and police-led operations that place social movements at risk of criminalisation – which had under experimentation for some time – have multiplied. On the one hand, this helps to accelerate the process of transnationalisation of governance on an unprecedented global level; on the other hand, it confirms the heightened commitment of the centres of power that try to hinder the correlative transnationalisation of global protest.6

The anti-globalisation movement has one of its foremost bases in the European Union. Yet it is there that political networks and intelligence services are expanding, thus imposing a vision of social protest – and also of other responses to the process of neo-liberal globalisation, such as mass migration – as a problem of security. From the analysis of the declaration on the protests made by some European heads of state, from the directives adopted on the procedures the authorities should follow in relation to the protest movements, and from the concrete actions that were taken on the occasion of huge demonstrations, one can deduce a propensity to criminalise dissident politics, as represented by international contestation.

If the protests of Seattle in 1999 were characterised as the anti-neo-liberal and anti-globalisation movement’s baptism of fire, the year 2000 launched a new phase in Europe. This was due to three main events that granted this heterogeneous movement a new organisational capacity: the announcement that the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre would be held in January 2001;7 and the mobilisations in Prague and Nice. In September 2000, the first of these mobilisations took place in the capital of the Czech Republic against the backdrop of the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Between September 26 and 28, around 10,000 people from various parts of the continent participated in demonstrations on the streets of Prague in order to protest against the institutions of the Bretton Woods system. One World Bank civil servant later claimed that the protesters “effectively appropriated” the reunion’s agenda.8 After Prague, the contestation movement against neo-liberal globalisation organized a counter-conference in Bayonne, France, in October 2000, that coincided with the meeting of the European Council in nearby Biarritz. However, it was the following meeting of the European Council in Nice, on December 6 and 7 2000, that made the most important points with regard to the future of the movement in Europe.9

The importance of Nice for studying governance and protest in Europe is that it was there, at EU level, that the adoption of joint means to impede or obstruct the demonstrations against globalisation really began. Although decisions with that aim had been taken before, the distinctive character of Nice resided in the fact that the European governments decided on that occasion to suspend the Schengen Agreements for the duration of the meeting in order to restrain the arrival of protesters from other countries. The first Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 by Germany, France, and the Benelux countries, and it “provided for free movement for all those residing or travelling in their territories, by means of gradual dismantling of controls at the common borders. However, due to certain disagreements, especially about the sale of cannabis in the Netherlands, the accord was not implemented until 1990 when the Application Convention of the Schengen Agreement was signed. It came into force in 1995. All the other states of the EU, except for Ireland and the UK, adopted the convention, Denmark doing so only with certain restrictions.” (D’Arcy, 2002, p. 163).10

While Nice brought the first suspension of the Schengen Agreement, Gothenburg was the first time police forces shot with live ammunition at the protesters. This episode occurred on the occasion of the meeting of the European Council between June 14 and 16, 2001. The European movements had prepared a counter-conference organized by a platform called “Gothenburg Action”, which involved around 80 organisations such as ATTAC, Friends of the Earth, Antifascist Action, as well as labour unions and leftist parties. On June 15, 20,0000 people assembled on Järn square to protest peacefully against neo-liberal politics in the EU. In the judgment of the protesters and according to public opinion in Europe, the police reacted disproportionately to the violent acts of some provocative protesters – who represented a minority among the demonstrators – when they fired live ammuntion at the protesters and hit three of them, injuring one seriously. Dozens of other protesters were injured and at least 700 were detained. Subsequently, Germany Secretary of the Interior Otto Schilly proposed to organise a conference with his fellow interior ministers in order to better coordinate their public security strategies.11 In fact, a thread links the events of Nice, Gothenburg, and Genoa in a crescendo: from the suspension of rights of free movement (Nice) to the use of fire arms against protesters (Gothenburg), culminating in the death of one protester as the demonstration was quashed with methods reminiscent of a war zone (Genoa, July 2001). As Nathalie Bayon and Jean-Pierre? Masse confirm, Genoa stands for the beginning of the criminalisation of the alternative political thinking of the anti-globalisation movement as well as for the deliberate choice of the option to repress it with force (Bayon and Masse, 2002, p. 143).

But there is more: the study of the control and repression of the anti-globalisation movement in the European Union allows us to reflect on the exercise of the legitimate monopoly of force within this political community. Already equipped with a parliament comprising representatives independent of national legislatives – ten new member states were integrated in May 2004 –, the EU is trying to advance its political integration with the project of a Constitution, which was formally adopted by an intergovernmental conference in June 2004 and awaits ratification at the time of writing. The coordination between security and intelligence agencies within the European Union ratifies the image of a community of states that acts cooperatively and seeks better political integration and coordination. Thus, the appearance of common structures of political cooperation would be one more step in the configuration of a supra-state political unity in Europe that will have consequences for international relations. In that sense, the Schengen Agreements and the establishment of EUROPOL12 are two key elements to be taken into account, given the way the European authorities use them in order to control and repress the international contestation. EUROPOL has an exchange and coordination centre – as well as a compilation and analysis centre – for information that produces intelligence about alleged criminals or persons suspected of participating in illegal activity. On grounds of its proactive mandate – anticipating an infringement that may or may not occur –, EUROPOL has been criticised as a potential threat to civil liberties, given that no adequate instruments exist through which public control could be imposed on its agents. They enjoy immunity and prerogatives that could enable them to abuse their authority (Paye, 2002; Zulueta 2000).

Hypothesis 3: The jurisdictionalisation of certain cases is connected to international protest

The contribution of non-state actors to international juridical debates has increased significantly in the last years. They try not so much to collaborate with states in areas of common interest as to use the law in a competitive way in order to promote humanitarian, ecological, economic, and social causes towards which the states generally show indifference. Thus they resort to the normative tangle of domestic law so as to fill possible legal vacuums within international norms and practices (Cassese, 1990). Regularly, the mobilisation of NGOs and scientists as well as scientific communities is supported through a “virtual community” connected by the Internet and through global civil societies that have become freer since the 1990s. At first, mobilisation focused on initiatives, then it turned towards accompanying and managing, and finally to implementation of various conventions and treaties referring to human rights, environmental issues, as well as the fight against impunity (Keck & Sikkink, 1998).

At the same time, the issue is to stimulate judicial activism in certain jurisdictions by seizing the opportunities offered by certain events with transnational repercussions. Extraterritorial juridical competence increasingly expands while lawsuits against individuals, companies, and foreign governments are increasingly common (Slaughter and Bosco, 2000). NGOs specialised in the defence of human rights have strikingly shown how active they are in calling on national jurisdictions to exercise their “universal competence” in order to punish those responsible for crimes against humanity, the environment, minorities and indigenous people; they also protect animals threatened by extinction and defend biodiversity no matter wherever the acts condemned were committed and regardless of the nationality or place of residence of the persons behind them. Since many plaintiffs are assisted by NGOs, certain “righteous judges” have begun to open the way and investigate on a regular basis cases that unexpectedly threaten dictators and torturers, but also transnational companies and leaders accustomed, hitherto, to the impunity granted by sovereign prerogatives, flags of convenience, and tax havens (Florini, 2000).

Thus the growing jurisdictionalisation of determined lawsuits brought by new international actors tends to undermine the conception of “co-existential” law between sovereign entities, by which states and their governments have traditionally tried to keep their relations under control (Devin, 2002). This phenomenon could become a veritable cultural revolution, introducing, via jurisdiction, a new equilibrium between social forces where no one expected it, and thereby helping the development of international protest, which, as a result, may take new forms. Taking legal action against the “powers that be” is no longer the exclusive privilege of states and their leaders, but results from the collision of divergent interests defended in part by private actors before a third party following adjudicative procedures (within or outside the court).

Finally, there are also distinct processes that are not necessarily concurrent with the idea of contestation as defined here. Thus, some international agreements (for instance, article XI of NAFTA) give transnational companies – in order to protect their investments (creating a new category of expropriation) – a voice in the international justice system and regard certain means of environmental protection and social rights as an expropriation of their investments. Could such a tendency and such a juridical practice be considered one form of contestation? It is true that these companies “protest” against the monopoly and sovereignty of states – but at any rate this cannot be “contestation” in the same sense as the NGOs discussed here. Nevertheless, the reference serves to demonstrate that the term “expropriation” can be stretched across many theoretical categories.

Final considerations

Taking the perspective of international relations sociology (Badie & Smouts, 1992), we propose to question international relations as a social system and a world-system (Wallerstein, 1975). The world-system confronts the empire-world (where just one political system dominates) because it has a world economy that denies the hegemony of the empire. It is a structure, an articulation, a sort of architecture, a reality entrenched by time. The system here is not related to the system of functionalist analysis (as in the works of Klaus Knorr, Robert Keohane, Joseph Nye, or Karl Deutsch). There is in the system-world a dominant regime of accumulation characterised by the crises caused by ruptures in the continuous reproduction of social relationships. They lead to the reorganisation of the system and the gradual emergence of a new accumulation regime (Yaghmaian, 1998). From this point of view, the new forms of international contestation could be regarded as anti-systemic and anti-hegemonic forces within the system-world. In the current process of conversion of the international capitalist regime (which recognises the national state as its basis and as the principal source of the rules hat shape the economic system) into a global capitalist accumulation regime (in which the inter- / transnational has priority over the national in the production of global regulatory norms), there is a conflict between distinct categories of capital (transnationalised capital versus national capital) and diverse state models (minimal liberal state versus regulatory and normative state). It remains to be seen what form the agents of international contestation will take in this momentous clash. We think that they will undoubtedly, as a consequence of the divisions stemming from the heterogeneity of organised civil society, establish many alliances with the distinct categories of capital as well as with the diverse national state models. From these alliances will spring variable connections and relationships (of conflict and cooperation) between the defenders of the alternative project, the agents of the market, and the state.

By way of conclusion, it is worth restating one of the central theses of Charles Tilly’s work on conflict and rebellions – which are essential for the institutional transformation of a political order, particularly for the constitution of the modern nation-state –, as well as on repression and negotiation between rulers and challengers (Tilly, 1990). These points are crucial, in our opinion, for analysis of international protest and the means of vigilance, containment and repression used against it by national states. Tilly affirms, based on extensive historical investigation, that individuals and groups learn to address claims to the powerful by deploying “repertoires of collective action” related to the development of capitalism and of the national state in the West. Thus, before industrialisation and urbanisation, forms of protest were local and less organised, but from the 19th century they took on a more national character. The subsequent response of the state and the national elites was more centralised, both when they efficiently repressed protest movements, and when they negotiated concessions and political rights with them, thus establishing new channels of collective action as well as institutions that allowed new non-violent forms of protest, such as the legalisation of left-wing parties (Tilly, 1986). In addition to these two “repertoires of collective action” (local and national), Tilly also alludes to a third (which he judges to be under construction and peculiar to the current process of globalisation) corresponding to the forms of contestation practiced by the transnational movements, at one global and delocalised (Tilly, 1992).

If we consider problematically and contextually, on a global scale, Tilly’s conclusion about the centrality of conflicts and collective mobilisation for the rupture or profound reform of a political order and for the development of institutions, it is possible to understand certain expressions of international anti-globalisation, such as the WSF, as well as the reaction to it of states and multilateral bodies. Confronted with the conflicts and protests of organised movements, as before the appearance of new international actors, national states try to respond – with coercion and / or reforms – including on a global scale, by linking policies and practices of security and intelligence. Certainly these will bring about new forms of coercion on the supra-state level and / or the level of global political institutions, thus updating repertoires of collective action and political institutions, which, according to the proper logic of globalisation, drive its expansion and internationalisation. In fact, contestation, coercion, and the jurisdictionalisation of international politics have developed remarkably in the last years. There is thus a perceptible change in the behaviour of anti-globalisation movements and of state intelligence and coercive agencies, which now tend to abandon the purely national sphere in order to become more and more international. As regards the relationship between the European institutions specialised in such activities and the alternative globalisation movements, the focal question is to assess which model of relations is presently being constituted between states, regional intergovernmental organisations, and the transnational actors challenging the world order. In short, which transnational “repertoire of collective action” has been established in recent years? Will it entail more conflict and repression, or will representative political institutions emerge at supra-national level (above all within the European Union) that could become the basis of one form of multidimensional global politics, operating on various levels, with the capacity to replace the cleavage between “internal” and “external” with a new conjunction of “local” and “global”?

Translated from Spanish


1. When this political mobilisation took place in 2003, debates started about five important issues: 1) democratic and sustainable development; 2) principles and values, human rights, diversity and equality; 3) the media, culture and counter-hegemony; 4) political power, civil society, and democracy; 5) a global democratic order, the struggle against militarisation and the promotion of peace. 2. In the UK and North America, there is a cultural tendency among social groups (much more widespread than in the Latin American countries, say, and based on their long institutional history) to opt for judicial means to achieve favourable outcomes. 3. See, for instance, the amendments to the law on “universal competence” in Belgium. 4. “Judicialisation: a strange and somewhat barbarous word. It renders very aptly the present tendency to turn to judicial solutions when all other means of social regulation are exhausted”, as Bertrand Cassaigne put it in his “Réflexions pour conclure” the thematic section that the French journal Projet (n° 252, Winter 1997-1998) devoted to the subject. For a more extensive discussion, see the International Political Science Review, 15(2), April 1994, an issue entirely devoted to the “judicialisation of politics”. 5. What happens is that the legal system – which addresses individuals and makes them comparable – introduces a relation of individualisation to the social field: the citizen as bearer of rights and obligations in relation to law. Yet this is not contradictory, considering the growing policy role taken on in recent decades by certain associations. Indeed, the law grants some of them growing opportunities to take on or to share the role of prosecutor with respect to planning issues, the environment, the protection of individuals and minorities that are discriminated against, the struggle against racism, public hygiene etc. 6. For a more detailed chronology see Luce (2003). 7. Between June 22 and 25, 2000, on the occasion of the Social Conference of the United Nations (known also as “Copenhagen + 5”) in Geneva, associations, NGOs and trade unions organised an alternative meeting. This counter-conference voted for a resolution “To build the road to another world: let us globalise the resistance”. Also in the framework of this encounter, Miguel Rossetto, then vice-governor of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, announced support for the organisation of the World Social Forum in the state capital Porto Alegre in January 2001, as initially proposed by the European and Brazilian organisations. 8. The final sessions on the last day of the meeting were cancelled due to the pressure of protests that were intended to obstruct the arrival of participating delegates at the Convention Centre where the meeting should have taken place (Seoane and Taddei, 2001). 9. The Nice meeting was called in order to adopt a new treaty to extend the Treaty of Amsterdam (signed in 1997, it had entered into force in 1999). The social movements, for their part, organised a counter-conference and promoted a huge demonstration on December 6 for a Social Europe, led by the European Trade Union Confederation. In this way, the participating social movements wished to protest against “neo-liberal Europe” and to demand a “European Union of peoples”. 10. While initially established in the sphere of intergovernmental cooperation, the Schengen Agreements were integrated into EU law by a protocol annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997 (D’Arcy, 2002, p. 164). Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland – although they are not in the Union – later became associate members of the Schengen Agreements and incorporated the corresponding laws except for participation in the decision-making process. 11. This was to be meeting n° 82 of the EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council in Brussels on July 13, 2001. Even though the document agreed by the representatives defends “the development of constructive dialogue with the organisers of demonstrations in order to ensure that legitimate demonstrations are not exploited by violent groups”, another paragraph suggests the use of all available means to obstruct the free passage of individuals suspected of travelling “with the intention to organise, provoke, or participate in serious disturbances of law and public order”. Implementation of the directive made use of lists of “dangerous” protesters – a practice that was condemned by the European Parliament (Resolution 2001/2167 INI). 12. The European Police Agency (EUROPOL) was created in 1995 and started its work in 1999. It has its headquarters in The Hague in the Netherlands. Its aim is “to improve cooperation between member states in the fight against terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and other forms of international crime” (Paye, 2002, p. 68).


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