IDS working papers;327

Spanning citizenship spaces through transnational coalitions : the case of the Global Campaign for Education

Published on 1 January 2009

How do changing patterns of power and governance affect how and where
citizens mobilise collectively to claim their rights? This paper presents a case
study of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a civil society coalition that
came together in 1999 to mobilise people across the world in a campaign for the
right to quality, free education for all. The paper interrogates the experience of the
GCE to better understand how advocacy movements meet the inherent difficulties
of mobilising across different levels of governance to achieve globally recognised
rights. The GCE is widely perceived as a successful example of a campaign
coalition. Its deep, pre-existing roots in collective organisation in the global South
were the foundation for this success. Inclusive and representative formal
structures, collective framing of campaign issues and careful recognition of the
different roles played by actors in different locations were key factors in building
the campaign coalition. The case study discussed the way that involvement in a
global campaign affects the citizenship identities of those involved. A sense of
global citizenship amongst activists added to rather than replacing a sense of
local and national citizenship; as governance is multiscaled, so citizenship can
therefore be multidimensional. The challenge is how to continue to build and
sustain inclusive and democratic coalitions which span multiple sites and spaces
of citizenship.
Keywords: education; right to education; global citizenship; campaigning; Global
Campaign on Education; transnational social movements; global governance;
NGOs; MDGs; citizen action.

Cite this publication

Gaventa, J. & M. Mayo (2009) Spanning citizenship spaces through transnational coalitions : the case of the Global Campaign for Education. Working paper series, 327. Brighton: IDS.


John Gaventa

Research Fellow and Director, Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme

Publication details

published by


Related content