The anti-globalization movement is a worldwide movement opposing the mechanisms of global capitalism--particularly organizations like the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Trade Organization (WTO) and free trade treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), and the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI), as well as the governments which promote these agreements.
The first major mobilization of the movement occurred on November 30, 1999, when protesters blocked delegates' entrance to WTO meetings in Seattle, USA. The protests lasted the length of the meeting until December 3, during which time there were intermittent delays of the meeting and intermittent violence between the protesters and the Seattle police.
At first glance, there appear to be many different reasons why protesters join the movement. Among them are: labor rights, environmentalism, preservation of indigenous cultures, and ending or reforming capitalism. The number of different, and sometimes contradictory, issues has been a point of annoyance for the people they are protesting. Many trade ministers have made statements to the effect of: "What are you protesting?" Ultimately, many of these apparently disparate concerns can be said to represent specific issues about which the protestors fear a loss of self-determination, because they believe that the global financial institutions and agreements they protest undermine local decision-making methods.
Influential works which have inspired and summarized the anti-globalization movement include Naomi Klein's book No Logo, which criticized the omnipresence of brand-driven marketing usurping popular culture and the production practices of multinational corporations.
Protesters organize themselves into "affinity groups", typically a non-hierarchical group of people who live close together and share a common goal or political message. Affinity groups will then send representatives to planning meetings. However, because these groups are easily and frequently penetrated by law enforcement intelligence, important plans of the protests are often not made until the last minute.
One common tactic of the protests is to split up based on willingness to break the law. For example, in Prague, the protest split into three distinct groups, approaching the conference center from three directions: one breaking the law only in unlawfully assembling, one advancing through "tactical frivolity" (costume, music, and artwork), and one engaging in violent conflicts with the police, the police armed with water cannons and batons, the protesters with cobblestones lifted from the street.
The protesters often claim that major media outlets do not properly report on them; in response, they created the Independent Media Center, a collective of protesters reporting on the actions as they happen.