Transnational Institute

The Transnational Institute (TNI) is ‘an international network of scholar-activists committed to social change,’[1] combined with a critical research institute that produces knowledge for popular and official audiences, related to a wide range of policy issues. Initially the international branch of the Institute for Policy Studies (based in Washington DC), TNI was established in Amsterdam in 1974.

TNI’s contribution to alternative knowledge is quite multifaceted, and can be readily viewed at its information-rich website. It produces macro-level analyses and critiques of the global order, focused around two large programs: Drugs and Democracy (which examines the illegal drugs market, drug policy and their effects on vulnerable populations, including through regionally focused projects) and Economic Justice (with projects on trade/investment, corporate power, agrarian justice and public services/water justice).  Each provides a window on the neoliberal global political economy and the search for alternatives. TNI brings to these programs and projects a social vision of a sustainable, just and democratic world. To these ends, it engages with activist communities worldwide, dialoguing with movements and with progressive governments, particularly now in Latin America. In its basic approach, TNI fits the motif of ‘expose, oppose, propose’:

  • It carries out radical analysis on critical global issues such as corporate power, land-grabbing and water privatization;
  • It builds alliances and capacity with social movements;
  • It develops and disseminates, on its website and in publications, policy analyses and proposals for alternatives.

With such a variegated set of programs and projects, addressing different publics, constituencies and audiences, TNI’s knowledge-producing practices are diverse. Its basic strategies range from insider efforts (e.g., Drugs and Democracy; working to influence the European Commission on trade and investment policy; providing advise to progressive governments of the pink tide) to outsider initiatives (e.g., the campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity).

TNI is a policy group particularly rich in the capacity to work transnationally and across a range of issues. It combines a great deal of critical policy work, including original research, with ongoing dialogues and facilitations that provide cognitive resources to activist organizations and campaigns via conferences, workshops, seminars and in textual form. TNI’s capacity to act within transnational fields has been greatly enhanced through its collaborative approach. Its list of collaborators indicates 82 partners, 14 of whom are extensive global civil-society networks such as the Hemispheric Alliance, Our World is Not for Sale, and the Seattle to Brussels Network.[2]


TNI Website

TNI Wiki Article


[1], accessed on 30 January 2015.

[2], accessed February 1 2015.