Document Type



Published in Cornell International Law Journal, vol. 39, no. 3 (2006).


A number of philosophers, policy thinkers and activists have despaired over the prospect that global institutions can bring progressive change to the international order. They advocate that those who would change things should place their hopes in global social movements rather than global institutions. This essay humbly suggests that we ought to do both. Global institutions require an active global civil society that includes social movements if they would not lose their senses of mission and purpose. Global social movements for their part require global institutions to serve as focal points for their efforts, which are otherwise threatened with diffusion and dissipation. Indeed, most global institutions are themselves the products of, and in that sense the consummations of, global movements. The relation has always been, and always will be, one of symbiosis.

Date of Authorship for this Version



Global institutions, global social movements