Focus on the Global South was established in 1995 to challenge neoliberalism, militarism and corporate-driven globalisation while strengthening just and equitable alternatives. We work in solidarity with the Global South – the great majority of humanity that is marginalized and dispossessed by globalisation – believing that progressive social change and Global South solidarity are imperative if the needs and aspirations of oppressed peoples, particularly in Asia, Latin America and Africa, are to be met.
Focus has the capacity and experience to convene a broad spectrum of progressive social forces around ideas and processes. We have a history of bringing together diverse actors – from government through to social movements, from North and South — to share and deepen analysis of emerging power patterns and new experiences of social transformation as the basis for broad collective mobilization for democratic change. We were at the forefront of the struggles that brought forth the World Social Forum, derailed the World Trade Organization, and brought forth alternative visions through our deglobalisation paradigm.
We have used many different approaches including research and analytical writing, debates, seminars and conferences, education and study programs, network building, international solidarity and fact-finding missions, direct action and parliamentary testimonials, social forums, joint campaigns and media.
While adhering to our key principles, Focus has responded to the rapidly changing political landscape: in the first phase of globalization we provided a strong critique of neoliberalism; as the global justice movement emerged, Focus connected Asian movements and realities with the global context; now we are updating our deglobalization paradigm to better address the climate crisis.
With offices in Bangkok, New Delhi and Manila, Focus is active from the local to international levels. Since our modest beginnings 17 years ago, Focus has made the concept of the Global South as a political entity both tangible and practical. Our achievements include:
- Building and supporting international networks and process – for example, Our World is Not for Sale (OWINFS) and the World Social Forum – by bringing in grassroots voices and movements from Asia, providing timely research and analysis, and organizing, mobilizing and campaigning.
- Developing and popularizing “deglobalisation” as an alternative to neo-liberal globalization – an achievement recognized even by The Economist who wrote “Walden Bello… can perhaps claim to have coined the word.” Deglobalisation continues to be a rich source of ideas and debates as the search for alternatives accelerates.
- “Derailing” the Doha round of WTO talks. Although corporate-driven trade liberalization is far from dead, the WTO has yet to recover from the multiple setbacks of Seattle, Cancun and Hong Kong and Focus’ contribution to this was not insignificant.
- Strengthening peoples’ movements. In external evaluations, partners have consistently cited Focus as a significant contributor to their growth and greater voice and confidence.
- Publishing books, reports, videos, and other media, including over 150 editions of the electronic newsletter Focus on Trade that consistently provided high-quality and up-to-date analyses and perspectives from the Global South on current events and key issues.
- Regaining alienated commons, especially in terms of land reform and rights to public water. Our partners in this area attribute part of the success to resourcing provided by Focus.
- Establishing strong and trusted links with movements and activists regionally and internationally, complemented by rooted programs in Thailand, Philippines and India.