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From transnational protest to domestic political opportunities: insights from the debt cancellation campaign

By Daphné Josselin


Of the transnational advocacy campaigns so far leveled at international financial institutions and practices, that to reduce the debt owed to creditor country governments and multilateral financial institutions has often been presented as the most successful. Building on the work of Eurodad and others, from 1997 onwards activists led by Jubilee 2000 UK rallied around the goal of a one-time cancellation of the 'unpayable' debts of the world’s poorest countries by the end of the year 2000. The campaign soon became global, with the creation of some 57 national Jubilee 2000 networks. By the time it folded, at the end of 2000, over 24 million signatures had been gathered in support of debt cancellation. While the goal of complete debt cancellation remained elusive, the anti-debt network could be credited with raising public awareness around the issue and placing it on the agenda of creditor governments and international financial institutions (Donnelly 2002; Fogarty 2003). Yet the overall success of the debt cancellation campaign masked significant national differences, even between neighboring countries: while 2,960,262 persons signed the Jubilee 2000 petition in the UK, only 1,200,381 did so in Germany, and 521,319 in France (respectively 4.97, 1.45 and 0.87 percent of the national population). The organization and timing of the campaigns also differed: two years after its London creation in October 1997, the Jubilee 2000 Coalition had sprouted similar organizations in five of the G7 members; Germany was an early joiner, France among the two exceptions. Why did debt cancellation achieve such prominence in the UK and, albeit to a lesser extent, Germany, while remaining a marginal issue in French associational and political circles? This is what this paper investigates, in the process drawing a picture of transnational activism in which the national is given pride of place

Topics: HF Commerce, HC Economic History and Conditions, JZ International relations
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1080/14742830701251252
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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