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CIAO DATE: 12/00

Globalization, Citizenship and Technology: The MAI Meets the Internet *

Peter (Jay) Smith and Elizabeth Smythe

International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA.
March 14-18, 2000


For over three hundred years politics has been a state-centred activity revolving around the institutions of states and relations between states. Since the eighteenth century who we are as citizens was defined, and given meaning by, states. Culturally, beginning with the French Revolution, people identified themselves as citizens of particular nation states. Moreover, the territory of states not only provided the public space in which politics occurred, but also the primary space for economic activity as markets tended to be located within and regulated by states. In sum, there was a considerable overlap of economic, political, and cultural space. (Shields and Evans 1998).

Today, political, economic, and cultural spaces are said to be coming increasingly separated. Economic activity is becoming globalized while politics is still defined by the shrinking confines of the nation state. The cultural question of "who am I?"is being separated from its association with civic nationalism. For economic elites there is a growing identification with capital and economic globalization. For many others , however, identity is being re-attached to homogeneous ethnic communities.(Shields and Evans.) The driving force behind these changes is, observers claim, globalization. Globalization is commonly defined in economic terms as an increasingly integrated system of global production involving a transnational division of labour organized within a single linked group of corporations. As part of this process capital, unlike labour, moves fairly freely, facilitated by rapidly changing technology. Increasingly open national economies, as a result, have become integrated into, and dependent upon, networks of international exchange.

As states open themselves up to the global economy they expose themselves to a loss of political and economic authority. Indeed, much of the recent popular discussion of globalization has centered on the extent to which it has constrained states, undermined sovereignty and created an international system where global capital dictates state policies. (Greider 1995) Susan Strange, for example, contends that:

Where states were once the masters of markets, now it is the markets which, on many crucial issues, are the masters over the governments of states. And the declining authority of states is reflected in a growing diffusion of authority to other institutions and associations, and to local and regional bodies, and in a growing asymmetry between the larger states with structural power and weaker ones without. (Strange 1996: 4)

As the state retreats and becomes less relevant the implications for the politics of the state are profound. According to Brodie, "the ascendancy of the market over the state and inside the state ... atrophies the public, closes political spaces, and further marginalizes the already marginalized." (Brodie 1997: 7) The atrophy of the public and the problematizing of the state, territory and sovereignty have, in turn, profound implications for citizenship. Lipschutz, for example, argues that there is a crisis of citizenship which arises, in turn, from a crisis of the nation state, itself in trouble largely as a consequence of globalization. (1998: 3)

Globalization thus poses serious questions to both the future of the state and the citizen. If there is no sovereign people can there be a state? How can citizenship have any relevance in a world in which national borders are becoming porous and even disappearing at least for capital, if not for labour. This is, no doubt, a pessimistic interpretation of the impact of globalization on the state, politics and citizenship. In our opinion it is too pessimistic. We argue that globalization is contestable and that as capitalism globalizes, so do its opponents. In both instances information technologies are playing a key role. In other words, the flip side of economic globalization is political globalization and mobilization both made possible by the information revolution. As Higgot and Reich argue, "We are not going to have a global information economy without a global civil society." (1999:20) In the newly emerging global civil society new political spaces arise both within and outside the borders of the state. For example, global social movements and NGOs have shown a capacity to contest the actions of corporate capital directly at the global level even as they simultaneously seek state action at the national level (Low, 1997).

In the first section of this article we argue that this "crisis of citizenship" is based on an overly narrow definition of citizenship which does not sufficiently address alternative means of acting politically, other than those involving domestic state institutions. Moreover, we argue that globalization has involved new processes and means of communicating and organizing which have provided the capacity for new forms of expression and connection among groups and citizens which are not easily controlled by states and ruling elites. As a consequence these means of communicating have provided an alternative voice and capacity to moblilize to those often excluded from the increasingly narrow spectrum of public discourse.

The second section of the article uses the case study of the failed attempt to negotiate the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1995-98 period to develop this argument. This is a particularly good case since the agreement to develop binding rules on how states treat foreign investors was based on a set of core liberal values, widely shared among state elites of the 29 OECD member countries. Despite having virtually no access initially to mainstream media and limited resources ( in comparison to multinational capital) a broad coalition of non-governmental organizations were able to organize an effective opposition to the MAI and to articulate an alternative vision and critique of globalization which challenged the prevailing discourse in a number of OECD countries.

We do not take the simplistic view that these NGOs were solely responsible for defeating the MAI, but rather use this case to examine how Internet technology contributed to the capacity of groups to communicate, to quickly mobilize and widely disseminate critical information, outside the control of national elites. While many observers have commented on the proliferation of websites and their importance in bringing the draft agreement to the public, especially in the absence of media attention, little systematic research has been undertaken to look closely at these websites. In contrast we both analyze those websites as well as interviewing a number of NGO representatives about their use of the Internet. In the concluding section we argue that the speed, ease of dissemination of large amounts of information, and the lack of control over the Internet has helped create new forms of community which are not spatially defined and thus will have a longer term impact on political action and on the policy-making process, including foreign policy.



Citizenship in an Era of Globalization

In order to better appreciate this crisis of citizenship it is necessary to outline the view of citizenship that held sway in political theory for most of the postwar period. The most influential exponent of this view was T.H. Marshall who saw citizenship almost entirely in terms of the possession of rights. According to Marshall citizenship rights could be divided into three different groups - civil, political, and social - all of which we were entitled to as citizens and were embedded in the postwar, liberal-democratic welfare state. Each of these rights, according to Marshall, emerged sequentially in the modern era. Civil citizenship, which is rooted in liberalism, embodies the rights that secure individual freedoms, that is, "liberty of the person, freedom of speech, thought, faith, the right to own property, to conclude valid contracts, and the right to justice." (Marshall 1964:17) Political citizenship is composed of the democratic rights of participation - "the right to participate in the exercise of political power as a member of a body invested with political authority or as an elector of the members of such a body." (Marshall 1964:72) Finally, social citizenship refers to the rights to a minimum standard of welfare and income: "the whole range from the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage and to live the life of a civilized being according to the standards prevailing in society." (Marshall 1964:72)

While Marshall notes that civil and political rights emerged at different times in the modern era, both are rooted in the ancient world. Political citizenship, for example, draws upon the Aristotelian view of citizenship as participation in self-rule, the freedom to participate in public decisions. Civil citizenship is rooted in Roman jurisprudence which conceived individuals as equal rights bearing creatures. As citizens all were equally entitled to the due process and the equal benefit and protection of the law - in essence, a very private, personal, and economic view of citizenship. Of the three groups of rights only social citizenship was new 1 . For Marshall, individual freedoms and the right to participate meant little to citizens if they were shackled by the constraints of poverty.

Today, Marshall's vision of citizenship is under attack. All three elements of citizenship, which formed an integrated whole, are becoming lost, separated or challenged. Social rights are eroding. The welfare state is being hollowed out, as states abandon any notion of redistributing wealth. States are now the midwives of globalization, radically altering their governments and spending, particularly, social spending, as part of an effort to conform to the perceived demands of a global economy.

However, it cannot be said that all elements of citizenship are in equal difficulty. The ideological handmaiden of globalization, neo-liberalism, is, in effect, a restatement of classical liberalism, where civic citizenship, particularly the protection of property rights, trumps social and political citizenship. In the neo-liberal model, the market replaces the state and the individual, the community. Rather than accept citizenship as a political and social status, neo-liberals reassert the role of the market, rejecting the idea that citizenship confers a status independent of economic standing. (Kymlicka and Norman 1995) The ascendancy of markets thus erodes the political dimension of citizenship and becomes a substitute for political decision-making, narrowing the scope of the public and collective decision-making.

The result, it is claimed, is a crisis of citizenship. As the state reduces "the welfare role of the state and casts citizens out on their own .. its citizens lose interest in the well-being of the state and the political activities meant to legitimate it." (Lipschutz 1998:1) Moreover, argues Lipschutz, if the national community

ceases to exist, or is transformed into something different, what becomes of citizenship and common notions of civic virtue? More specifically, what do citizenship and civic virtue mean in a world in which national and societal borders are becoming permeable, and, in, some instances, disappearing? (1998:1)

In this view globalization is an inexorable and unstoppable force destined to leave in its wake the husks and shells of nation states, empty of any substantive authority and reduced largely to symbolism. The future of citizenship would thus look bleak. We contend, however, that this is too simple a view of globalization. Globalization, we argue, is a contradictory and contested phenomenon that both disempowers and empowers states and citizens and is by no means homogenous in its effects.

The Other Side of Globalization

To understand how globalization might empower citizens we must recognize that the information revolution made globalization possible. As Kobrin notes, "the emerging global world economy is electronic, integrated through information systems and technology rather than organizational hierarchies." (Kobrin 1998b: 362) We are witnessing what has been described as a third industrial revolution "characterized by the intensive application of information and communications technology, flexible production systems and organizational structures, market segmentation and globalization." (Cerny 1995:607) Financial markets were one of the first economic sectors to globalize by capitalizing on the creation of private electronic networks. These networks have facilitated orders of magnitude and concentration far exceeding anything that had been seen previously in financial markets. (Sassen 1998a) The consequence has been that the global capital market now has the power to discipline national governments - whether it be the Mexico "crisis" of December, 1994 or the Asian "crisis" of 1997 and 1998. The power of currency traders now exceeds that of central bankers in the determination of foreign exchange rates.

The information revolution is thus reshaping capitalist market economies. In particular, it is disintegrating the vertically integrated "Fordist" firms which had previously dominated industrial production. However, the information revolution is a contradictory process. While it breaks down hierarchies it creates new power structures. It redistributes not only economic, but also political power. Where economic globalization appears to be closing public spaces for state-centred citizenship, it may be opening them up elsewhere. For example, in the field of international relations there once was a time when diplomats were the sole interlocutors between countries. Now, however, through the means of the Internet "unmediated dialogue and information exchange between citizens from around the world occurs 24 hours a day." (Rothkopf 1998:3)

Information technologies are thus not only transforming the economy but politics as well offering new alternatives to citizen activity. The Internet, argues Holmes, breaks down hierarchies whether they be political, economic, class, race or gender. (1997:13) In doing so, "by allowing the construction of oppositional subjectivities hitherto excluded from the public sphere, the Internet's inherently decentralized form is heralded as its most significant feature." (1997:13) Others such as Rowland go further, describing the Internet as anarchic in nature. By anarchy Rowland is referring not to the absence of government which creates chaos but to a "vision of an alternative libertarian society based on cooperation as opposed to competition." (Rowland 1997: 340) "The Net," claims Rowland, "is public space that is shared by millions of citizens but lacks a government." While the physical structures of the Net - copper and optical fiber lines and other machinery - may be owned and controlled privately it is the space created when these lines that are filled with data - cyberspace - that must be seen as public space. Concludes Rowland:

The Net exists in that space and is, by definition, owned and controlled by millions of users. It was designed and built to be that way, the design works. The public nature of the Internet is lodged deep in its defining technologies. (1997: 337)

Thus the Net as a decentralized, if not, anarchic, communication system instantiates new forms of interaction and permits new kinds of relationships of power participants. While Rowland views the Net as public space, others see it as permitting a multiplicity of communities, for example, environmental, human rights, to speak to one another, thus, in effect, creating a multiplicity of public spheres existing outside the confines of the state. In effect, the Net decentres and continues citizenship in a different form.

The Net possesses other features that promote its use, for example, its accessibility, low cost, and ability to disseminate large amounts of information quickly. The result is that "there is little doubt that the Internet is an enormously important tool and space for democratic participation at all levels, for strengthening civil society and for the formation of a whole new world of transnational political and civic projects." (Sassen 1998b: 546) The public nature and global reach of the Internet means, in effect, that globalization is contestable. Furthermore, the Net's fundamental change of the economics of long distance interaction and association encourages the emergence of many more global organizations, by broadening national and regional organizations and as well the formal structuring of relations between individuals worldwide. (Koweck 1997) The Net thus encourages the growth of a global civil society. Finally, if globalization is contestable then the struggle between states and markets is not necessarily over.

Global Civil Society

The term, global civil society is widely used but there is no single, static definition of the concept. It has a long and contested conceptual history. At it most basic it could be defined as "that arena of social engagement which exists above the individual and yet below the state." (Wapner: 312-313) While this definition is relatively uncontroversial disagreement arises when two questions are asked:

  1. Who is included in civil society?
  2. Is civil society political or apolitical?

In regard to the first question, the fundamental division is between those who include the economy as a part of civil society and those who do not. Earlier eighteenth and nineteenth century thinkers - Hegel, Marx, and de Tocqueville - all included the economy as a part of civil society. In Democracy in America, Tocqueville distinguished between the state, or more particularly, government, and civil life. The state, or government, included legislatures, bureaucracies, courts, the police, and the military. Civil life referred to the public life of citizens, that is, their life outside the household. Civil life in America, thought Tocqueville, was characterized by an abundance of associations of which there were two types, civil associations and political associations. Civil associations are part of the capitalist economic sphere and consist of private economic associations of commerce and industry. Political associations are concerned "with the public and formal support of specific doctrines by a certain number of individuals who have undertaken to cooperate in a stated way in order to make those associations prevail." (Tocqueville 1969: 190) Political associations, thought Tocqueville, were free schools of democracy providing lessons in the art of association. It is important to point out that Tocqueville included both private bodies, such as churches, and public bodies such as interest groups, political parties, juries and town councils among his political associations. Civil society, then, for Tocqueville, is very much a space for public action; the good citizen operates in and develops politically within civil society. Civil society, thought Tocqueville, constituted a formidable barrier against a potentially tyrannical or paternalistic state.

Recently there has been a tendency of neo-Tocquevillian analysts such as Robert Putnam to omit the political and/or economic element in civil society. 2 Putnam argues, for example, that largely apolitical associations that crosscut the major lines of conflict within a society will help produce the moderation and compromising spirit necessary for democratic self-government. (Putnam, 1995) Putnam thus leaves political associations, such as political parties and social movements, outside of his version of civil society. Putnam also leaves the economy outside of civil society as do others. We do not.

We argue that both the political and the economic variables must be included as part of civil society. The political variable includes those organizations, parties, and social movements that mobilize citizens around particular social and economic issues. Each provides critical sites of civic engagement for citizens. Similarly, the economy cannot be omitted from the civil society. By leaving the economy outside of civil society we neglect to analyse ways in which the economy can be seen as a despotic force as prone to coerce civil society as the state. (Axtman 1996) We also potentially neglect the conflict between capital and labour on who should pay the price for, and reap the benefits of, a global economy. This approach does not reduce the economy to one pluralist force among many. Rather, we argue, the economy, or the market, is the most potent force in civil society rivaling, if not superceding, the state in terms of importance. Thus we favour a more inclusive approach to understanding civil society and the emerging global civil society. Global civil society consists of the myriad groups and networks of action and knowledge that can, but do not necessarily, extend across state borders 3 . It includes local, national, and global actors. It also includes the economy as well as the family.

The emerging global civil society is highly political. For example, the pressure market forces put upon states throughout the world to reduce spending and the welfare state is well known. Less observed has been the growth of nonprofit organizations, primarily non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and transnational social movements, that challenge the globalization process. What constitutes an NGO, Higgott and Reich tell us, is not a discrete science. They note that their numbers, both nationally and internationally, have expanded rapidly. NGOs may be large organizations such as Médicins Sans Frontières, Care, and Oxfam, but there are many smaller NGOs as well. In addition groups may vary in the extent to which they challenge or are beneficiaries of the status quo (Macdonald) Increasingly some NGOs and social movements are taking positions vis-a-vis economic globalization. Cecelia Lynch, for example, notes that "there is a developing understanding among some 'progressive" contemporary social movement groups that economic globalization poses the primary obstacle to the fulfillment of their goals." (Lynch 1998:149)

In effect, as capitalism is globalizing so are its opponents 4 . In both instances the information revolution is playing a key role. According to Higgot and Reich:

The information revolution, especially Internet technology with its speed and reduction in cost in the transfer of information, is perhaps the largest factor at the disposal of NGOs in an era of changing international diplomacy. In addition to the flows of information that have traditionally been controlled by state or corporate actors, now a vast array of other non state actors, with access to a computer and modem, can become international communicators. The rise of NGO networks is the classic example of the emergence of new foreign policy actors who can now have a vastly increased number of channels cross border communication. (1999:16)

The result is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to limit access to international trade and investment negotiation processes. Those opposed to the neo-liberal policies of economic globalization - unions, church groups, environmentalists, national-cultural organizations - have found that the Internet has empowered them as international actors. The information revolution once feared by many is now being used as a democratizing force to pressure groups to articulate their positions to ever wider and more demanding publics, domestically and internationally. In effect, the top down globalization process, driven by economic, political and state elites, is being contested as new voices in civil and global civil society emerge to challenge it. One of the most cited recent examples of how forces in civil and global civil society have combined to resist the traditional closed door, top down, multilateral process is the defeat of the Multilateral Agreement on Trade and Investment.


The MAI, NGO'S and The Internet

Why the MAI? Making the Case for this Case

Why use the MAI as a case study to empirically examine the argument about globalization's impact on citizens, democracy and states? First, many have argued that the root of many of the constraints states currently face in their capacity to make policy is globalization, especially in the form of integrated globalized production, increasing economic interdependence among states, and the enhanced mobility of capital. As a consequence capital has increased its power over both labour and states. In order to insulate this liberalization of exchange rules from domestic political processes Gill and others have argued, efforts have been made to create international rules designed to further limit state intervention in markets, erode state policy autonomy and thus, indirectly erode democracy and citizenship. Nothing, one could argue, better epitomizes these trends than the effort launched, in the spring of 1995, to negotiate a multilateral agreement on investment at the OECD.

The agreement, as originally proposed, was clearly designed and intended to limit state discretionary authority to discriminate between domestic and foreign investment in regulation and to provide a high level of certainty to investors by ensuring transparent domestic processes and high levels of compensation for investors, in the case of either direct or indirect expropriation. In the initial draft of the agreement corporations, like states, were given recourse to dispute resolution procedures in the event that states were seen to violate the agreement. The intended effect of this provision was to enhance the protection of foreign investors from changes in state regulations which might hurt their interests. Thus discriminatory state regulation of foreign firms, or regulation that could be seen as indirect expropriation, would be prohibited unless states negotiated specific exemptions, which negotiators at the outset, at least, intended to keep to a minimum. Thus the MAI reflected, it could be argued, the growing power of capital and the resulting limits on state policy discretion. At the same time the process of negotiating these rules was very much an inter-state one and thus subject to, and embedded in, domestic political processes within the 29 OECD member countries.

The second reason for choosing the MAI is the even more obvious one, that this was the first major inter-state economic negotiation where the media (Drohan 1998, De Jonquieres 1998), the negotiators, the NGOs opposing the agreement, and academics (Kobrin 1998) all seem to agree that the Internet was a key tool, used effectively by opponents to prevent an agreement. Thus examining this case should shed some light on the question of whether new technology, as part of the process of globalization, has opened up alternate public spaces that may be able to counteract the constraints on the state. It may indicate whether, or to what extent, these new public spaces which have been opened to civil society can compensate for the loss of some aspects of citizenship which arise as a result of globalized production, by generating new forms and ways to articulate a challenge to the market. In order to evaluate the extent to which this was, or was not, the case we need to begin with an overview of the MAI negotiations, the role that NGOs played in the process and where the Internet fits in. We then need to look in more detail at the MAI and the Internet, specifically how organizations, and individuals used it.

The MAI Negotiations

The MAI negotiations were drawn out over a three and half year process which ultimately resulted in the cessation of negotiations on December 2, 1998. The negotiations had been formally launched in May, 1995 at the OECD Ministerial meeting, largely as a result of a US led, and business-supported, initiative. The idea was to create a binding, free-standing agreement, thought to be easier within a smaller, like-minded group of wealthier economies. Non-OECD states would then accede to the agreement on a negotiated, case-by-case, basis.

The OECD Ministers' decision to launch negotiations in May 1995 was not a secret, although it received almost no press attention at the time. The negotiations began in earnest the following fall in 1995 and appeared, at first, to make rapid progress on agreeing to the main principles, such as national treatment and strong investor protection, including investor-state dispute resolution processes. The key political issues of which economic sectors or state policies would be exempted from these general obligations were not really addressed until the winter of 1997. Within the negotiating group of member countries there was already some discontent with the process, especially the role of the secretariat and the chair in putting forward draft texts that were not regarded by some members to really represent a consensus. This discontent and the real political divisions began to emerge in March and April, 1997 as member states lodged their reservations to the obligations contained in the text.

Around the same time a draft of the February 1997 text was leaked and ended up very quickly in the hands of, and on the websites of, two public policy advocacy groups in North America. These groups pointed to the text as proof of a secretive process which threatened state sovereignty and had major implications for citizens. Up until that point there had been almost no media coverage of the negotiations (Preamble 1998). The agreement had been portrayed as "technical" and entirely in keeping with the rather mundane economic work for which the OECD was known. With the leak of the draft text and the dramatic pronouncements of critics came an increase in media coverage in some countries, just at the point at which the process was becoming bogged down and more political.

As domestic attention to the negotiations augmented in a number of member countries, the pressures on negotiators increased, as did the number of state reservations lodged against the obligations of the agreement. Legislative committees, again reflecting public pressure, began hearings, starting with Canada in the fall of 1997, followed in 1998 by Australia, France, the UK and the European Parliament, among others. Recognizing that the likelihood of an agreement which would bring real gains in liberalization for global capital was slipping away, negotiators attempted a high level political meeting in February, 1998 designed to break the logjam. When it failed it became clear to a number of key players, especially the US, that whatever limited agreement might ultimately emerge from the process was unlikely to be worth the political costs of trying to get it ratified. As enthusiasm for the agreement waned, a number of states under the most pressure, including France, pressed for a hiatus in the negotiations, which was agreed to in April 1998. Opposition continued to mount and when the negotiations were due to resume in mid October the French government, under pressure from the Green and Communists within its coalition withdrew from the negotiations (Riché 1998), thereby ending any real hope of agreement, a fact acknowledged by the rest of the negotiators in December 1998.

What this brief summary clearly indicates is that no set of opponents, even ones armed with Internet technology, can take credit for the failure to agree at the OECD. However, the political delays and disagreements created an opportunity which these groups were able to exploit effectively use to mobilize domestic opposition in a number of countries.

Non-Governmental Organizations and the MAI

The process of negotiating at the OECD did not initially provide for any input from organizations other than those which already had formal consultative status (though no role in actual negotiations) , namely the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) and the Trade and Industry Advisory Committee (TUAC). Other organizations, such as environmental groups which had had dealings with the OECD on environmental issues, were not consulted partly because the negotiations were seen as technical issues of investment and controlled very closely by the committee and division of the OECD secretariat which deals with investment.

A number of NGOs, especially the Third World Network in Malaysia, had been critical of investment negotiations at the OECD and of attempts to push investment negotiations prior to the December 1996 Singapore World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting. A small number of environmental and development NGOs had expressed concern about the MAI and met informally with the chair of the OECD negotiating group in the late winter of 1996-97 but, over all, had very little opportunity to have input. This changed after the leaking of the draft text in early 1997. Concerned about accusations of a secretive process the MAI negotiators, urged on by the secretariat, approved the release of the draft text on an OECD MAI website. Apparently stung by the negative view of the MAI revealed when the chair of the negotiating group surfed the net, the OECD decided to meet formally on October 27, 1997 with a much larger number of NGOs 5 . (Sierra Club 1997). By all accounts the meeting was quite fractious, and for some negotiators, eye-opening about the extent to which domestic concern and opposition was growing in some countries, reinforced, in Canada's case, by the presence of CBC television coverage. The NGOs which had attended the meeting were able, despite differences in tactics, to formulate a common position and confront the negotiators with a demand to suspend talks. When the negotiators refused the NGOs vowed all out opposition to any agreement (Public Citizen 1998). In many ways this signaled a turning point as the NGOs began concerted and coordinated efforts to mobilize domestic opposition within the OECD countries and elsewhere. It thus marks the beginning of the real politicization of these negotiations in a number of countries. How important was the Internet in this process? How was it used as a tool that is somehow different from, or new, in comparison to the existing technologies of communications?

The Internet and Civil Society

The growth of the Internet has been a topic of discussion and debate in the media and popular culture and one that has been characterized much more by hype and exaggerated claims than serious analysis. There is, however, some evidence that the Internet has had an impact on the way in which information is produced and communicated. Three characteristics have been identified by a number of analysts. First, many argue, the Internet greatly enhances the speed of communication of large amounts of information, at a relatively low, and certainly declining, cost. Second, unlike the broadcast media, which is a one-way, producer-receiver process, the Internet, more analogous to the telephone, (Rowland 1997) permits interactivity where participants both produce and consume information. The Internet thus creates a rather anarchic environment where information flows, in a largely unmediated way, and can be shared in so as to facilitate collaborative, rather than competitive, behaviour. In addition changes to standards, developments in software and hardware, and government and industry supported initiatives, facilitated a major growth in the Internet in the mid 1990s just as the OECD negotiating process was under way.

Because the Internet is such a rapidly changing, and in many ways, anarchic network of networks, studying its use by groups is not easy. For many political scientists interest in the way in which groups have used the Net began with observations of its use by the specialized networks in the areas of human rights and the environment (Deibert 1998, Stanbury 1995) and by groups such as the Chiapas rebels, who were able to bring their message to a wider world and coordinate external support through the use of a website.(Cleaver 1998). A second major aspect of the Internet has been its use, primarily through e-mail, listservs and news groups, to create a network of activists who can easily and quickly share information and coordinate strategy. To date there has been little study of how groups used this technology in the case of the MAI.

We began then by surveying the presence on the Internet of MAI websites in February and March 1999, less than three months after the cessation of negotiations on December 2. While it may have been preferable to have done the survey during the negotiations, one characteristic of websites is that, while they can be changed easily and updated frequently, they, like the smile of the Cheshire cat, can remain for some time after the body has disappeared. Thus while many of the websites had not been updated since the winter of 1998, they were still on the net a year later. While some may have disappeared or been transformed we feel that our survey is still broadly indicative of what citizens searching for information would have found, for example, in the winter of 1998 when public debate about the MAI was probably at its height 6 .

Our search for sites used several search engines, including Copernic and Mata Hari, and cross referenced results, eliminating duplicates and errors. The search was conducted using the term Multilateral Agreement on Investment or its equivalent in English, French, Spanish and German. The linguistic choices were a function of the researchers' language skills. In each case we worked backwards from the MAI pages that came up in the search to also find the person or organization responsible for, or the sponsor of, the website. The result was 400 MAI sites 7 , reflecting the groups and organizations which sponsored them. Those sites in English, French and German were then coded for a number of characteristics using Microsoft Access 8 . The result provides a very preliminary snapshot of what sorts of groups and organizations used websites to communicate information about the MAI. Those who are knowledgeable about the net will recognize that our methods did not capture all of the websites which contained information about the MAI and we do not claim to have done so 9 . However, cross referencing our findings with a number of sources suggests that we did locate most of the major groups and organizations seeking to influence the public debate about the MAI using websites.

Second, we wished to find out how many non-governmental organizations, especially those credited with playing a major role in the campaign of opposition to the MAI, specifically used the Internet in their efforts. We identified 23 organizations, contacted them and asked them to respond to a set of simple questions about how they had used the Internet. Responses came in the course of face to face or telephone interviews, or via e-mail. About half of the organizations responded, and coupled with interviews with negotiators and OECD officials done over three years they provide a picture of how groups used the Internet.

Who is on the Web?

The first simple question we asked was who was on the web? We were initially interested in what types of organizations, in which countries, were using the web to communicate on the MAI. The following table provides a breakdown by type or organization of the 352 sites our researcher was able to fully code. It is based on locating the name and type of group or organization sponsoring the site - not always an easy feat.

Table 1: Websites By Type Of Sponsoring Organization

Type of Group Sponsoring site Number of sites Per Cent of Total Sites
Public Policy Advocacy 53 15.1%
Political Parties and MP sites 45 12.8
Media Organizations 37 10.5
Government Agencies -all levels 35 10
Individual/Personal 30 8.5
Business Orgs (incl law offices) 26 7.4
Broad, anti-MAI coalitions 20 5.7
Environmental Organizations 19 5.4
Trade Unions 16 4.6
International Organizations 17 4.8
Research Institutes/Centres 15 4.3
Student Groups 9 2.6
Other (unable to classify) 9 2.6
Arts/Cultural orgs 8 2.3
Church/Religious 5 1.4
Total 352 100%

The table raises one of the questions about the definition of civil society discussed above. Much of the anecdotal discussion of the Internet and the MAI suggests it was a tool of NGOs -usually conceived of in terms of non-profit groups, separate from the political process. However, although a number of advocacy NGOs, such as Public Citizen and the Council of Canadians, did play a major role in leaking the draft text and providing detailed critiques of the MAI, the surprise is the number of websites that were, in fact, sponsored by elected members of legislatures and political parties (in most cases, opposition parties). Clearly some would place parties and parliamentarians within the purview of civil society, but also in the top 6 types are business groups ( in some cases law offices) individuals, media organizations (including both broadcast and print) and government agencies. Our interviews would suggest, however, that MAI websites came in waves and if we were able to track the timing would find that many of the media and government (departments, agencies and parliaments and even municipalities) websites followed in response to those of the advocacy, environmental and development NGOs.

We also tried to get a sense of the countries where organizations were located which were active on the web, again, not always easy 10 . Clearly what we found was a function of a range of factors. As the World Bank's 1998 and a recent OECD report indicate, access to the Internet is very uneven (Hanson, 1999) and largely a function of the level of wealth of an economy, the telecommunications infrastructure and cost of connection. Second our linguistic limits lead us to under report the total number of sites, especially in Asia. However, a couple of aspects of the results are interesting. The significant number of US sites is no surprise, but the relatively large number of Canadian sites, relative to population (over _ the number in the US) is striking and reflective of both the level of connectedness in Canada, which now approaches numbers in the US, and the extent to which groups were active on this issue in Canada, itself a reflection of the controversy the agreement generated. A similar comment could be made about Australia, New Zealand and Austria. A surprise, however, were the small number of French sites found. Given the strong telecommunications infrastructure and the political controversy the MAI generated this clearly merits more investigation 11 . It may reflect two other factors, first, the cost of connection, and the second fact that, unlike a number of other countries, media attention to the MAI from earlier on was very high in France. Surprising, too, were the number of websites in Spanish over all, and the number in Latin America countries, which, with the exception of Mexico, were not OECD members. Brazil, Chile and Argentina were, however, major candidates for accession to the agreement and were courted by the OECD and sat as observers during the negotiations. This may have spurred some attention to the issue in this region as did NAFTA, perhaps, and the upcoming Free Trade of the Americas negotiations.

Table 2: Websites by Country
Country Number of Websites Per Cent of Total
United States
129 31.9%
71 17.6
36 8.9
32 7.9
United Kingdom
17 4.2
16 4
New Zealand
14 3.5
12 3
10 2.5
8 2
6 1.5
4 1
4 1
4 1
South Africa
3 .7
3 .7
3 .7
3 .7
3 .7
3 .7
2 .5
2 .5
2 .5
Other Countries
15 4.5
400 100

How is information linked and shared on the web? A number of commentators on the Internet have pointed to two aspects that make it an especially speedy and effective way to share and gather information- these are the use of hypertext links and the extent to which information may be reproduced and shared in a variety of websites located around the world. While this sharing of information has been a bane for copyright lawyers it has been a cheap and effective way for groups with very limited resources to have virtually instant access to the information generated by groups with more resources. According to commentators like de Brie of Le Monde Diplomatique this aspect of the Internet was a key in redressing the traditional monopoly on complex, technical information which large corporations, governments and the media have, and providing citizens and groups with limited resources quick and easy access to large amounts of complex information. As Table 3 indicates, virtually all of the websites had links (650) to other sites which provided information and our researcher was able to track the most frequently occurring links within the websites, giving a sense then of which organizations were major sources of information.

Table 3: Top Ten Organizations Appearing as Links of Websites
Name of Organization Frequency Rank
OECD 95 1
MAI Not (Flora)-OPIRG-Carleton Univ 87 2
National Centre for Sustainability (Victoria BC) 25 3
Appleton (law office, Toronto) 23 4
YUCC (personal site York U law student) 22 5
Public Citizen (Washington DC) 21 6
Preamble Centre (Washington, DC) 21 6
Friends of the Earth-US (Washington, DC) 19 7
Multinational Monitor (US-linked to Public Cit) 17 8
Council of Canadians 16 9
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Ottawa) 12 10
Stop MAI- Australia 12 10

As indicated ten organizations accounted for over half of all of the hypertext links which appeared on the 400 websites. Of these the OECD's presence at the top is accounted for by the decision in the spring of 1997 to release draft texts of the MAI. What is more striking is the extent to which virtually all of the other sites are North American, with the dominance of Canadian sites. This is indicative of the fact that the North American sites appeared earliest, and because of the leak of the draft and the analysis they provided of the MAI, were turned to frequently as a source of information.

This is also reflected in an examination of the content of the websites. In many cases sites merely posted texts of information, stories, news and analysis of the MAI that had been generated elsewhere. In most cases this was clearly acknowledged, however, in the world of the Internet rules on how and when to acknowledge sources are notable by their absence, making the task of tracing sources of information challenging. Indeed the whole issue of identity on the Internet is problematic. Despite the challenge we made an effort to roughly assess and code those sites sponsored by non-governmental organizations (ie excluding government, political party, business and international organization sites) according to the originality of the information ( using a threshold of 60% or more of news and information generated locally) provided on the site and found again, as Table 4 indicates, a predominance of NGO sites with original information based in North America.

Table 4: Number of sites with 60% or more original content
Country Number of Sites
United States 20
Canada 16
Australia 8
Germany 6
United Kingdom 4
New Zealand 3
Austria 1
Costa Rica 1
Netherlands 1
South Africa 1

NGOs and the Internet Tool

In order to take a closer look at how NGOs used the net we asked the NGOs we contacted six simple questions about how they used the Internet, its advantages and disadvantages and their assessment of the impact it had. The NGOs were strikingly similar in the way that they used the Internet and what variation there was was often a function of their size or restrictions on their activities dictated by their funding sources. Virtually all of the organizations used a website, e-mail and a listserv as part of their anti-MAI activities. Websites were generally targeted at a broader public than just a group's main membership and were not, by and large, used to fund-raise for campaigns or for more routine communications with members. Their main function was to provide a means of gathering, and sharing information and mobilizing those concerned about the agreement. One respondent described the process as a giant relay of obtaining and quickly passing on information. Some of the larger advocacy and environmental groups shared detailed technical, and often legal analyses of the draft MAI texts. A number of organizations used their sites to mobilize concerned citizens by providing accessible means to lobby decision makers with draft faxes, open letters which citizens could sign and send automatically, and press releases which local groups could also use in an effort to garner more media coverage. A few groups, such as Preamble and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, were prohibited from engaging in advocacy and were limited by tax or charitable status to sharing information and research. In their own lobbying efforts, however, virtually all the groups interviewed continued to use traditional methods with their domestic legislators and officials, including phone calls and face to face meetings, which they regard as more personal and more effective with decision makers.

E-mail, especially automated mailing lists, were used by all groups to maintain links with other activists and concerned citizens both within and outside their own countries. For the larger groups that played a very active role in the anti-MAI campaign, such as World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Friends of the Earth (FOE), it was used to link local, national and international organizations in the campaign to share strategy and intelligence and coordinate activities with allied groups. E-mailing lists, in some cases, involved as many as 1,000 to several thousand names. Some more institutionalized groups, such as WWF, were both coordinating meetings and consultations with OECD officials, at the same time that they were involved in broad anti-MAI campaigns. Some groups maintained two or more separate mailing lists, one for contacting concerned and interested groups and individuals and a smaller, closed list of key contacts and activists in other groups, with whom they shared strategy. These smaller lists were often based on previous campaigns and connections from, for example, anti-NAFTA, or World Bank networks.

For most groups the key advantages of using the Internet were its speed, the capacity to move large amounts of information easily, and the over all lower costs for NGOs in comparison to traditional methods such as mail outs. E-mail also allowed anti-MAI strategists to quickly share intelligence and strategy and compare notes in a timely way as events unfolded. The speed, the ease and the cost made sharing complex technical information easier and provided individuals with resources they would not have otherwise had. The access to information was seen by NGOs to be both empowering for themselves and the public. Many of their views echoed Le Brie's comments cited above. In essence the Internet helped to break the information monopoly enjoyed by business, government leaders and OECD officials. Several NGOs commented on how even though the OECD negotiations centered around complex, technical issues, conducted in secret in an exclusive organization, by being able to instantaneously access the latest intelligence and analysis of the long complicated draft texts, as well as the state of play of the negotiations, they and their supporters were able to challenge their own government officials and OECD officials. This was especially the case when they were being given selective, or misleading information. Negotiators, in a number of countries, confirm that groups and individuals often came armed with information they had obtained off the Internet, although some officials bemoaned what they saw as outdated or misleading information on some websites.

Groups were also similar in the concerns they expressed about the disadvantages of the Internet as a tool. In the main these center around three issues. The first is the problem of uneven access. This is an important issue for all groups, but most especially those in, or dealing with, third world organizations and citizens, or low-income groups or regions. In some cases unreliable electrical power sources, the lack of a telecommunications infrastructure, or high connection costs limit access. Even groups within very affluent societies, however, recognize that some of their members are not connected and are careful to treat them equitably in terms of providing information in order not to alienate or inadvertently marginalize them.

The second major concern is with the quality and volume of information to which the Internet provides access. Stanbury (1995) has raised the question of how empowering huge volumes of meaningless information may be in a democracy. Might swamping citizens with low quality information lead to manipulation, or at best, anxiety and confusion?. In the case of the anti-MAI campaign many NGOs reported that the volume of e-mail was a problem, required more and more resources and while speedy and timely, carried its own difficulties. Commentators have pointed to the lack of social conventions and frameworks which, while making e-mail informal, flexible and easy, also make it intemperate, leading as NGOs acknowledged, to misunderstanding, crises and confusion at times. With greater volume comes the problem of separating wheat from chaff and the risk of really important information slipping by.

The quality of information was also a concern for many groups. The ease of entry- anyone can create a website- and the lack of standards or rules, mean that the quality and reliability of information varies widely. In some cases, such as news groups, where anyone can post a message or respond to previous postings, discussions can lose focus and attract the more fringe, somewhat paranoid individuals who are never more than a click away. In a few cases useful anti-MAI news groups or listservs descended into discussions of Monsanto seeds or Y2K conspiracies. Some NGOs took on a conscious role in editing and screening messages to ensure the quality of information met some minimal criteria in order to preserve the utility and credibility of their information. A number of NGOs were concerned, too, that inaccurate, outdated or hysterical claims about the MAI would undermine the more serious and thoughtful critiques which they had worked hard to provide.

The management of websites and large volumes of e-mail was, especially for some smaller organizations, a bit of a burden on resources, either in staff time or the need to upgrade servers and other hardware. Some felt that the heightened expectations of ever faster and more powerful technologies created pressure to quickly respond to messages and update sites. Finally a number of groups also raised concerns about the increased reliance on Internet technology and thus more vulnerability to technology failures and security concerns, particularly given the growing tendency to share intelligence and coordinate strategy this way. Over all, however, NGOs saw the Internet as an important tool in their activities, despite its disadvantages. Did it ultimately, however, make any difference to the fate of the MAI? It is to this question that we now turn. Stopping the MAI-Did the Internet Really Matter?

How do we know that the use of the Internet had an important impact on the resulting failure of the negotiations? To determine that we need to address three questions. First, did the MAI Internet campaign have an impact, that is, was there evidence that it affected citizens in some way? Second, if it did have an impact, how was that translated into increased domestic opposition to the agreement? Third, did the opposition to the MAI which emerged affect the attitudes of particular governments toward the agreement? While none of the NGOs we contacted felt that the Internet campaign alone was responsible for the defeat of the MAI, they all felt that they had some evidence that it had had an impact on citizens and the broader public debate, and that this, in turn, did ultimately have an impact on negotiators and OECD officials.

New technologies, spurred on by the growth in electronic commerce and marketing, now enable site sponsors on the Internet to track the accessing of websites (hits, in computer vernacular). While a few NGOs now have the capacity to track hits there has not been a lot of analysis of the MAI campaign in those terms, but most NGOs did monitor e-mail communications and other forms of public contact and activities which appeared to be connected to their websites. Many NGOs experienced increased e-mail contacts, phone calls and personal requests for information on the MAI. A number also noticed increased, or higher than expected attendance at meetings, discussions or demonstrations which appeared to be linked, again, to interest generated by information on their websites. Most NGOs also noted a broader range of contacts, both national and international as a result of their website. The earliest North American sites noted a large amount of European contact and hits during the first part of 1997. This first wave was followed by a second wave, in late 1997 and early 1998, of new websites in Europe, especially smaller countries like the Netherlands, Austria as well as Australia and New Zealand. Communication on the web is, however, a much more random process than more targeted efforts such as mail outs and most NGOs are now more conscious of the need to monitor and track contacts and ensure that sites are user friendly.

All of the groups contacted felt that the Internet campaign had affected the domestic and international public debate on the MAI. In particular, many pointed to the greater coordination of activities and the sharing of information among groups. Coupled with the limited mainstream media coverage of the negotiations in many countries, this led to a situation where NGOs, by late 1997 and early 1998, had already set the terms of the public debate. Citizens and groups that were well coordinated and armed with detailed information and analysis were much harder for negotiators, or OECD officials, to dismiss as uninformed, nationalist or fringe elements. In a number of cases NGOs felt the presence of anti-MAI information on the Internet had shaped domestic media coverage and citizen opposition. In the case of Austria, even negotiators admit that media coverage and active and growing opposition to the MAI in the spring of 1998 was a result of the Internet campaign. Business representatives also ruefully admit that the NGOs had successfully, although in their view misleadingly, set the terms of the debate 12 . Some business representatives were privately critical of the inadequacy of OECD efforts to respond to the campaign. Attempts to dismiss opponents, such as the OECD Secretary-General's speeches during a visit to Montreal and Ottawa in May 1998 did, as un or mis-informed, only inflamed opponents and irritated state negotiators who were well aware, after lengthy conversations with ordinary citizens (such as a grandmother from Kelowna) on issues such as dispute resolution or the Ethyl case, that dismissing public concerns was an inadequate response.

The question of how this more aroused and concerned group of citizens affected the decisions and actions of negotiators at the OECD is much more difficult to assess. Had there not already been major inter-state divisions over aspects of the agreement, delays and splits within governments (eg. France) would the Internet campaign have made a difference? This is hard to say. The ability to share large amounts of information quickly and coordinate positions and actions among groups and citizens via the Internet clearly enhanced the effectiveness of the effort to mobilize citizens in opposition to the MAI. Since rules on trade and investment are still largely the purview of state negotiators within international economic organizations virtually all of which, in the case of the OECD, are representative governments that must ultimately obtain domestic ratification of agreements, increasing domestic mobilization in opposition to an agreement is not a trivial achievement. Raising the political costs of signing an MAI, which indirectly, one could argue, is what the Internet campaign helped do, made it less likely that negotiators would find enough gain in any version of the agreement to offset the domestic pain. When France withdrew it was already clear to a number of other negotiators that their governments did not have the political will to continue. They heaved a collective sigh of relief and welcomed the opportunity to let France take the blame for pulling the plug.



Our examination of the use the Internet by forces in civil and global society to mobilize against the MAI indicates that it is certainly premature to claim that globalization and citizenship are incompatible. On the contrary, the growth of a global civil society facilitated by the rise of informational technologies has the potential to enhance citizenship globally and domestically. By opening public spaces and making critical aspects of politics more relevant new information technologies are revitalizing democratic institutions. A quick review of how the Net was used to mobilize against the MAI will help understand what we mean.

At the outset the MAI negotiations had all the classic attributes of topdown, hierarchical, secretive, bureaucratic, technical, un-democratic, if not anti-democratic, decision-making. Few citizens even knew about the MAI. Clearly the activities of NGOs using the Net radically altered the context in which the debate took place and how it was framed. In terms of citizen activity and democratic government this was crucial. Both citizens and democratic government depend upon information and communication. Once the draft February, 1997 text was posted on the Net the floodgates were opened. No longer could negotiations be hidden from the spotlight of public scrutiny. No longer could mainstream media and broadcasting continue to ignore what was happening in Paris. In brief, through adept use of the Internet those opposed to the MAI were able to open up and strengthen the public spheres which citizens depend upon for active participation in civil society. They did so by opening up public spaces in which citizens engaged in discourse and by making domestic and international institutions of governance more permeable to the dialogue within these public spaces.

Our examination of website content and interviews indicate that a vast amount of information, stories, news, and analyses of the MAI were generated and disseminated by means of the Net and e-mail. Citizens and groups that were left out of the discussion could discuss amongst themselves the merits of the MAI utilizing detailed, and heretofore unavailable, analyses of the MAI posted on websites all over the world. Stimulated by what they read, and even wrote, citizens began to contact their elected representatives. Thus, the traditional institutions of governance were now becoming permeable to the dialogue taking place in civil and global civil society. Those we interviewed emphasized the ability of activists to communicate and mobilize the grassroots. One interviewee stressed that the anti-MAI campaign gave people a sense that they could participate in their democracies again. Indeed, one outcome was to make governments more accountable. As noted previously in a number of countries parliamentary committees began to hold public hearings and parliamentary debates occurred.

Our analysis indicates that those who engaged in activities on the Net represented a full range of participants in civil society. (Tables 1 and 3) What is particularly striking is the extent to which the use of the Net leveled the playing field in terms of who could and did participate, de-centering public discussion away from government agencies and business organizations. The anti-MAI groups became particularly adept at linking horizontally to exchange information and to engage in unmediated civic communication, thus eroding the monopoly of information possessed by traditional economic, broadcast media, and political hierarchies.

Furthermore, we found that in the case of the MAI the use of the Internet and its facilitation of the growth of a global civil society and global citizenship does not necessarily come at the expense of domestic civil society. Rather, one could argue, the rise of a global civil society can help revitalize domestic civil society and democracy, expand public debate over international issues, and enhance public accountability of political elites.

Clearly, the campaign against the MAI poses a serious challenge to international trade negotiators and politicians. Can they carry on behind closed doors with business as usual - probably not. How then do they incorporate groups from civil and global civil society into their negotiations? What criteria do they use? Should NGOs, for example, be required to prove that they are democratic themselves and accountable to their members and general public? Clearly not all are. Some are structured as top down organizations themselves. Moreover, there is still a question of just how democratic participation in global civil society really is. While the Internet broadens access to debate not everyone has access to the Internet. In fact, as indicated previously, access is highly correlated with the level of wealth in a society, the telecommunications infrastructure, and cost of connection. Those participating are often self-selected and tend to be middle class white males.

It also must be emphasized that the use of the Internet is not a substitute for traditional political activity and participation. Repeatedly those we interviewed stressed that there is no substitute for face to face contact not only amongst activists themselves, but also with politicians and the bureaucratic elite. While the Net can broadly inform people there is a need to follow up directly with individuals and decision-makers. For example, one person representing an advocacy organization we interviewed spoke of meetings with a government minister and a government negotiator in Paris. As soon as the meetings were over the results were disseminated on the Net around the world.

While the use of the Internet enhances the potential for citizenship in a number of respects those who we interviewed were perfectly aware of its limitations. Not all information provided is good, accurate or timely. Often there is too much information and it is impossible to analyze, digest and respond to all of it. Furthermore, communication on the Net is not always civil. It is often intemperate and tangential to the debate.

The Net, then, is not a panacea for all that ails citizenship. It does, however, have the potential to enhance it. Can it help restore the welfare state and social citizenship that some desire? By helping make politics more relevant it underscores the fact that the struggle between markets and states is not yet over. Moreover, if some citizens don't get what they want - a viable welfare state, a clean environment, enhancement of human rights, protection of national cultures - global capitalism may not receive the political legitimacy it needs to expand and maintain itself. The biggest test of future multilateral discussions may lie in their ability to incorporate these concerns in their negotiations. Whatever occurs multilateral negotiators now know they are in the global spotlight and will be under the scrutiny of NGOs and citizens who are well connected, well armed with information, and prepared to challenge them every step of the way.



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*:   The authors wish to acknowledge the research assistance of Leonard Stoleriu-Falchidi and the financial support of the Mission Critical Research Fund of Athabasca University.Back.

Note 1:  Even this is questionable. Both Marx and Aristotle agreed that citizenship could best be realized when "men" were freed from material necessity and possessed the leisure that would permit them to participate in public decision-making.Back.

Note 2:  For example, Michael Waltzer, Jean Cohen, and Ronnie Lipschutz all omit the economy from civil society. Roland Axtman includes the economy.Back.

Note 3:  This definition parallels Lipschutz's except that we do not exclude the economy and the family.Back.

Note 4:  Cox (1999) has suggested such movements may have the potential to form a counterhegemony to global capital. While this debate is beyond the scope of this paper our research does suggest that new information technologies may have an important role to play in this process.Back.

Note 5:  At the time 27 NGOs signed the Joint Declaration on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. By February 1998 the number had risen to over 600.Back.

Note 6:  An early trial search of sites in January yielded virtually the same number of hits as our detailed research in March. Many of those in the NGOs we interviewed also indicated that they were unable to update sites frequently because of limited staff and, in some cases, even as negotiations were faltering left anti-MAI material in place on websites because they expected negotiations to migrate to the WTO.Back.

Note 7:  The 400 websites were the result of many more hits. Each hit with a search engine indicates a webpage containing the search term. Some larger sites contained a number of pages dealing with the MAI and thus would be recorded as several hits.Back.

Note 8:  Time constraints did not permit the coding of the Spanish sites. A number of sites in other languages also came up during the search which we are unable as yet to code.Back.

Note 9:   Most industry analysts claim that because of the exponential increase in sites and the way in which search engines operate, even the most thorough search will only yield 30-40 per cent of what is really out there.Back.

Note 10:  Not all URLs contain a country code, and it is quite possible that a site which might be sponsored by a group in one country could be on a website in another.Back.

Note 11:   The early withdrawal of France from the negotiations on October 16 which abruptly ended the public debate may mean that some sites had disappeared by the time of our analysis. This does not mean however, that the sites we did capture were unimportant. At least one did play a key role on the ground in Paris sharing intelligence with other groups worldwide. Even groups that did not have websites often had access to information on other sites which they could use effectively, as the case of Austria, discussed below, indicates.Back.

Note 12:   Based on interviews conducted in September 1998 in Vienna, December 1998 in Paris and February 1999 in Washington, DC.Back.