AIDC was formed in 1996 in response to the democratic transition in South Africa and the new opportunities and challenges it brought those seeking greater social justice within the democracy.
Over the years AIDC has played a leading role in various civil society responses to ongoing inequality including facilitating the launch and building of the South African Jubilee 2000 debt cancellation campaign, and the Right to Work Campaign. AIDC has established itself as a leading source of research and information on themes of poverty, trade, and globalisation as well as playing a central role in various regional and international networks and forums including the Southern African Peoples’ Solidarity Network (SAPSN), Third World Network (TWN), Jubilee South, and the Trade Strategy Group (TSG). AIDC has contributed to strengthening South African civil society over the years by building leadership and analytical capacity and facilitating networking though a series of conferences, trainings, and leadership schools for trade unionists, women and youth.
A merger with Amandla Publishers in 2008 has provided a communication focus for rebuilding the organization into an effective capacity enhancing and knowledge producing organization.