World Social Forum (WSF)

Source: Americas Program
Far from the unanimous rejection in the period when right wing political parties governed most countries in South America, social movements have managed to unite in the defence of common resources and against extractive industries. However, when the time comes to evaluate left-wing governments policies the differences appear. [see more]

Information on CHOIKE:
World Social Forum 2010


"The great strength of the World Social Forum lies in its novel character. It is an initiative of the emerging planetary civil society that aims to value the practices of civic struggle and participation in different societies, and to give a global dimension to the proposals that are born of them". Cándido Grzybowski

The first and fundamental result of the Forum is the event itself. The World Social Forum (WSF) was created to provide an open platform to discuss strategies of resistance to the globalization model proposed at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos (1). Firmly committed to the belief that “Another World Is Possible” the WSF is an open space for discussing alternatives, exchanging experiences and strengthening alliances among civil society organizations, peoples and movements.. (2)

Following the first global meeting held in 2001 in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, the Forum was turned into an ongoing global process and adopted a Charter of Principles (3), as its main document. The first three editions of the Forum were carried out in Porto Alegre; in 2004, the WSF moved to Mumbai, India, returning in 2005 to Porto Alegre, while in 2006 a Polycentric forum took place in three different places: Caracas (Venezuela), Karachi (Pakistan) and Bamako (Mali). In 2007, it was held in Kenya with the aim of evaluating what has happened with actions proposed by social movements in previous forums, in order to find out whether they are already underway and make their results visible. General political issues as well as discussions on the WSF’s future and the methodology of annual events are discussed at its International Council (CI). On January 22, 2008 was promoted a decentralized World Social Forum Global Day of Mobilization and Action. Millions of people all over the world marched, spoke, celebrated, and dialogued in villages, rural zones, and urban centers. They mobilized on the date of the 26th of January to coincide the Global Day of Mobilization and Action with the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland to confront this gathering of the elites. The World Social Forum 2009 took place from January 27 to February 1 in the Brazilian city of Belém, the capital of Pará state and the northeastern gateway to the Amazon jungle region. The global economic crisis and its effects, as well as environmental and climate issues was high on the agenda at this Forum. The WSF 2010 will be held in several cities of the world linked with a global mobilisation day. It is just known Dakar will be the city where celebrate the WSF 2011.

Within the WSF process, different international Regional and Thematic Social Forums are carried out, being activities that have strengthened social entities, increasingly giving more space so that issues to be debated are handled by organizations and movements themselves .

According to Grzybowski (4), "It is impossible to understand the Social Forum without linking it to the growing wave of public protests against globalization, as it happened in recent years in Seattle, Washington, Prague and Nice. The people behind the Forum are those who become actors in struggles, movements, associations and organizations, however small or large, local or national, regional or global. It is this global convergence of diverse networks and movements that creates and sustains the World Social Forum".

Forum : space or movement?

However, such a massive process is not without tensions. These are expressed broadly among those who believe that the most important thing is to keep it as an open space for reflection and debate, avoiding the risks of politicization, or among those who believe that it should be turned into a movement with increased organic character, that would produce a final document to make certain position official. In this sense, in the 2005 Forum, several intellectuals release a 12-point document (Porto Alegre Manifesto). According to its drafters, the twelve proposals included in the Manifesto aim to “give sense to another possible world. If applied, they would allow citizens to at last seize back control of their future”.

Whitaker expreses a different view: "For me, there is no doubt that it is fundamental to ensure at all costs the continuity of the Forum as a space and to not yield to the temptation of transforming it now or even later, into a movement. If we maintain it as a space, it will not prevent nor hinder the formation and the development of movements —to the contrary it will ensure and enable this process. But if we opt for transforming it into a movement, it will inescapably fail to be a space, and all the potentialities inherent to spaces will then be lost". (...)

"The great challenge for the continuity of the Forum process therefore, and for it to fulfil its vocation of being an incubator for more and more movements and initiatives, is to multiply such spaces across the world that are genuinely open and free, without focussing attention only on specific proposals. We must hope that nobody, however inadvertently, contributes to ‘closing down’ the Forum to such a point that it disappears as an open space". (5).

In this special report we provide information about the WSF process as well as analysis and in-depth views on the nature and scope of this global event.

(1) The World Economic Forum at Davos gathers large multinational corporations, national governments, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
(2) "World Social Forum: Origins and Aims", by Francisco Whitaker
(3) Charter of Principles
(4) "World Social Forum: Something new was born in Porto Alegre", by Cándido Grzybowski, Sociologist, Director of IBASE and member of the Organizing Committee of the World Social Forum.
(5) "The WSF as open space",pdf. "From The World Social Forum: challenging empires" Editors: Jai Sen, Anita Anand, Arturo Escobar, Peter Waterman.
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UPDATES

Official web sites

Multiple Activities throughout the world to mark the WSF's 10th birthday celebrations in 2010 (WSF)

World Social Forum 2009 - Belém - Pará - Brazil

World Social Forum

Books

Book: "The World Social Forum: challenging empires" (Choike)

A political programme for the World Social Forum? (CACIM - India Institute for Critical Action - Centre in Movement)

Are other worlds possible?

Thematic

World Education Forum 2010 - Palestine (WEF)

World Forum for Alternatives

World Social Forum on Health

II World Social Forum on Migrations - June 2006

II World Social Forum on Migrations (Choike)

World Social Thematic Forum

World Education Forum

World Education Forum - Buenos Aires 2006

All the Forums

World Social Forum 2009 - Belém, Brazil (Choike)

World Social Forum global day of action - 26th January 2008

World Social Forum 2008 - Global Call for Action

World Social Forum 2006 - Bamako (Choike)

World Social Forum 2006 - Caracas (Choike)

World Social Forum 2006 - Karachi

WSF 2005: News and reports from Porto Alegre (Choike)

World Social Forum (WSF) 2005 (Choike)

WSF 2004: News and reports from Mumbai (Choike)

World Social Forum (WSF) 2004 (Choike)

World Social Forum (WSF) 2003 (Choike)

World Social Forum (WSF) 2002 (Choike)

World Social Forum (WSF) 2001 (Choike)

Debate and discussion documents

A New Start with the 2009 WSF (International Viewpoint)

World Social Forum Belém do Pará – Brazil 2009 (CADTM)

Peter Waterman (Choike)

That other world (Americas Program)

Competing ideologies: Davos v. Belem (Countercurrents)

Autonomous politics and its problems: thinking the passage from social to political (Choike)

Critical reflections on WSF Nairobi 2007 (OpenSpace Forum)

"We need to let the World Social Forum evolve" (IPS News)

Debate on the future of the World Social Forum

Is the World Social Forum approaching a point of crisis? (CACIM)

International Unions embrace the World Social Forum: opportunities and… limitations?

Women's bodies, gender analysis, and feminist politics at the Fórum Social Mundial (Journal of International Women's Studies)

Global civil society in the global political arena (Centre for Global Studies)

"Six steps the World Social Forum must take" (ZNet)

Crisis as opportunity for "another world" (IPS News)

Labour at the 2009 Belem World Social Forum

Indigenous Peoples: “Another world is possible” only if… (CACIM & National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers - NFFPFW (India))

As a way out of the crisis, another world is possible (Social Watch)

Is Another World Possible? A Report from the 2009 World Social Forum (UNI-Alter)

Radicalize the alternatives (Público.es) (Público.es)

WSF 2009: dilemma's of decision-making on the periodicity of the forums (Network Institute for Global Democratization)

Related information

The World Social Forum Bibliography

World Social Forum

Regional

IV Americas Social Forum: Grassroots Organizations Are Still in Charge (Americas Program)

Quebec Social Forum will be held from October the 9th until the 12th (WSF)

European Social Forum 2008

US Social Forum 2010: Vision and Goals (United States Social Forum)

African Social Forum 2008

United States Social Forum

Reflections on the 2007 U.S. Social Forum (Americas Program, Center for International Policy (CIP))

Asian Social Forum

Midwest Social Forum

Third Americas Social Forum 2008 (American Jewish World Service)

Progressive Forum Amsterdam (Transnational Institute)


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