Transnational activism and EU free trade agreements power between the tie and the t-shirt
05 / 2007 - 09 / 2013
Activisten bij Noord-Zuid vrijhandelsovereenkomsten worden vaak afgeschilderd als T-shirt- en spandoekdragende demonstranten. Is dat beeld terecht? Trekken de onderhandelaars zich er wat van aan? En als ze dat doen, hoe reageren ze dan? Celina del Felice onderzocht de invloed van transnationaal activisme op vrijhandelsovereenkomsten. Hoe kunnen activisten macht uitoefenen op internationale handelsbesprekingen en hoe heeft het activisme invloed op de onderhandelaars. Del Felice keek naar twee sets van onderhandelingen werden onderzocht, die tussen de Europese Unie en de landen van West-Afrika en Midden-Amerika in de periode van 2003-2009 en 2007-2010.
Context: Civil society organisations (CSOs) in general, and transnational advocacy networks, in particular, become more involved in policy-making processes at international level. However, there is debate on their legitimacy to participate in these processes and their actual influence. States respond ambiguously and often the attitude is Voice, but not vote . On the one hand, CSOs are increasingly allowed to take part in policy dialogues, on the other, their legitimacy as advocates and policy actors are put into question. States specially point out that CSOs constituencies and mandates are not clear (Who are they representing? what are they representing? Some studies suggest (e.g. Hudson, 2002) that the close relations with the poor upon which legitimacy is derived, are rather weak and that at least that there are serious North-South tensions and challenges within global networks and alliances. At the same time, advocates draw on various sources of legitimacy, not necessarily political representation or procedural sources and often they do not claim to speak on behalf the poor. Furthermore, there is also little knowledge about how meaningful civil society participation is and their actual influence (who and what kind of organizations participate?), particularly on global economic justice issues such as trade policies. Problem statement: Although there is an apparent link between the legitimacy of networks and their level of influence, there is limited knowledge about how this relationship works. While policy-makers tend to discursively consider illegitimate those civil society organizations that do not have high representativeness, some of these seem to be the most influential. At the same time, some of those that are highly representative appear to be excluded from or choose to remain outside certain policy-making processes.