Transnational Social Movement Organizations (TSMO) is a generic, umbrella term referring to civil society entities and networks espousing socioeconomic, cultural or political issues with a global viewpoint and with a strong equity imperative. The TSMOs typically work in consort with like-minded organizations, leverage support from multiple constituencies, address complex issues, and their support base usually transcends national boundaries. Operating at multiple levels, their targets typically include national governments, multinational corporations, international agencies and regulatory forums. (Pellow 92) The birth of transnational social movements has its theoretical underpinnings in the sociological ‘conflict perspective’ that causally links the development disparities (the so-called North-South divide) within the global political economy. (Pellow 212) Movements against climate change, carbon emission and disposal of toxic industrial effluents are some of the leading causes espoused by TSMOs. In principle, most TMOs advocate for institutionalization and oversight of international norms aimed at conserving ecology and stopping socioeconomic, political and environmental discrimination and exploitation.
The disposal of global toxic industrial wastes is a complex global issue that merits global solutions. With increased awareness and regulatory control in the developed ‘North’ there was a phenomenal trend of major industries setting up base in the underdeveloped ‘South’. The countries which are disproportionately affected by toxic wastes often lack the capacity to safely dispose them. The discourse on this issue is based on the premise that developed countries consume more resources and hence their contribution towards environmental pollution is more; while developing countries often bear the brunt of toxic environmental contamination. While this tendency is also contributed to by the inability of the poorer economies to resist the development lure, the issue of environmental degradation and the attendant ill effects amount to gross discrimination at par with any human rights violation. Indeed, with the development of a strong TSM, the issue was brought on the centre stage and right to safe environment is now part of the mainstream human rights discourse. Moreover, both sides of the North-South divide itself have marginalized segments with vested interests on one or the other side. Invariably, there are powerful economic interests in both the worlds which benefit from the continued status quo. (Pellow 81) TSMOs leverage the strengths of their networks in both developed and developing countries and are in a position to enforce systematic action at multiple levels. Often the support of like-minded networks inside the developed countries plays an important role in shaping the domestic public opinion and lobbying political support within their countries. In effect, TSMOs are uniquely placed to tackle this complex issue.
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Pellow, David N. Review: Resisting Global Toxics. Transnational Movements for Environmental Justice, by David Naguib Pellow. eScholarship, U of California, 2008. Print