As kings, presidents, prime ministers, and delegates nattered on through their five-minute soapbox oratories at the UN’s Millennium Summit, 91 scheduled protests erupted throughout the city. The designated protest space during the summit—Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, at First Avenue and 47th Street—was hard to spot, what with the thick lines of police officers and sawhorse barricades. It seems that much effort was made to block views of such untidy dissent. But the variety of causes was staggering: Bangladeshis calling for an end to “the tyrannical regime of Sheik Hasina” were pressed up against Hasidim denouncing Israel’s prime minister Ehud Barak’s negotiations over Jerusalem, Iraqis demanding an end to U.S. sanctions were shoulder-to-shoulder with anti-Castro Cubans, and next to them, hundreds of Falun Gong were silently meditating to protest China’s campaign of terror against them. At the embassy of Myanmar, Burmese activists demanded the release of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, while at the Mexican embassy protesters called on the new government to meet with Zapatistas.
At week’s end world leaders signed the Millennium Declaration, which named globalization “the central challenge we face today” and affirmed shared values and common goals, among them halving poverty and halting AIDS by 2015. The declaration is a noble effort, certainly, but many of the groups that protested doubt the efficacy of the Declaration. Here’a a partial list of them and their main causes.
Listings compiled by Alexander Clare, Amber Cortes, and Christiane Salomon
Protest Pfizer’s price gouging on AIDS drugs. Give poor nations access to AIDS drugs.
AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY GROUP
Abolish slavery worldwide. Expose Sudan and Mauritania’s crimes against humanity.
COMMITTEE IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF EL SALVADOR
Oppose the ruling right-wing ARENA party and support progressive movements and trade unions.
COMMITTEE TO SUPPORT THE REVOLUTION IN PERU
Resist the American-backed Fujimori regime and promote communism.
EAST TIMOR ACTION NETWORK
Support self-determination for East Timor.
Demand that China stop suppressing practitioners of this spiritual discipline.
FOUNDATION FOR ETHICS AND MEANING
Protest the dominance of corporate and consumer values in society today.
FREE BURMA COALITION
End the military regime in Burma. Kick the current administration out of Burma’s UN seat.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA
Stop human rights abuses in China.
INTERNATIONAL ACTION CENTER
End sanctions against Cuba. End U.S. militarism, war, and corporate greed. End U.S. intervention in Colombia.
INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON GLOBALIZATION
Expose the effects of economic globalization and reverse the process.
Cancel the unpayable debt of the world’s poorest countries under a fair and transparent process.
Remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Lift economic sanctions against the Iraqi people. Launch free, UN-sanctioned elections.
NETWORK IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
Protest $100 million in U.S. aid that could be used to bomb the minority Moro people. Support the Philippine peasant union.
NEW YORK PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY AGAINST IMPERIALIST GLOBALIZATION
End imperialism, corporate globalization, and U.S. dominance in the third world.
NEW YORK ZAPATISTAS
Give land rights and independence to the indigenous people of Mexico. Demilitarize the Chiapas region.
Calls for the UN to democratize, not corporatize.
STUDENTS FOR A FREE TIBET
Free Tibet from Chinese control.
TRANSNATIONAL RESOURCE AND ACTION CENTER
Educate people about the social and environmental impacts of corporate globalization. Protest the United Nations’ growing partnership with megacorporations like Nike and Shell.
UNITED STUDENTS AGAINST SWEATSHOPS
End abusive labor practices and support economic and social justice issues on campus, in cities, and around the world.
WAR RESISTERS LEAGUES
top the UN’s growing industrial-military complex and eliminate war.
WE, THE WORLD
A global coalition that encourages participation in civic action. Founded by Dr. Jane Goodall.
ACTIVISM CENTER AT WETLANDS PRESERVE
Challenge the Colombian president to stop allowing oil drilling on U’wa lands.
YOUNG INTERNATIONALISTS FOR PROGRESSIVE GLOBAL CHANGE
Promote dialogue among young activists. Advocate global solutions to global problems.