(Thanks a lot Tord for this article. Do please change one more sentence: “a working group has been set up to start a permanent assembly calling itself World Assembly of Struggles and Resistance of the WSF” should be: A permanent assembly has been set up, calling itself.. etc)
Two significant renewals of the World Social Forum process is now taking place. In February 2022 Asia Pacific Forum took place primarily on the net with a base in Bangkok. This was a meeting in its own right but also an attempt to build strength towards organizing a WSF in the Asian region. In September 2022 a seminar took place in Tunis on how to make the WSF process more effective for movements to converge and make decisions while maintaining the open space character of the WSF as a whole. This by creating a permament assembly of movements thus making it better prepared and able to follow up on desicions made. The two initiatives are now building a momentum together to revitalize the World Social Forum process.
One result is that the next World Social Forum (WSF) 2024 is planned to take place close to the top of the world in Nepal. Supported by movements all over Asia Nepalese organizations have presented a well a politically and practically plan for the International Council of WSF. It was supported by all present at the International Council of WSF meeting 16th of February.
The speakers were presented by Meena Menon from India who stated that the proposal was supported of the people who are in the Asia Pacific Social Forum process from Philippines, Malaysia, Korea, South Asia. The political motivation was presented by Anselmo Lee from South Korea. He started by stressing the present multidimensional crisis facing movements. The Ukrainian war and military tensions in East Asia, the ecological crisis with flooding and other emergencies, national conflicts as in Myanmar, energy and food crisis and shrinking civic space. He continued by stating that all Asian issues are global while also remembering the good results that came out of the Asia Social Forum in Hyderabad 2003 and WSF in Mumbai 2004. He also pointed at the way the Asian movements use other global processes taking place in Asia to promote WSF as G20 in India, Climate COP 28 in Dubai and UN 5th LDC (Least developed countries) conference in Doha. A convergence of movements are needed and Asian movements feel confident in that they have something to contribute to global solidarity.
This was followed by three speakers from Nepal, Udhab Pyakurel, Arjan K. Karki and Netra Prasad Timsina. They presented both political and practical reasons for having the WSF in Nepal. Venues and lodging capacity as well as how civil society in Nepal and neighbouring countries support the initiative were addressed. Social forum came late to Nepal, the first national social forum was held in 2018. Together with the ASF and WSF in 2003 and 2004 held in good memory and recent Asia Pacific Social Forum there is a growing interest in the world social forum process. One argument for Nepal is that the country is one of the few in Asia open for such an event. Finance is not yet secured but contacts have been made and with the IC decision to support the plans for a WSF in Nepal funders can be approached. There will of course still be many problems to solve. How can gender balance be achieved, how can the relations with the government develop well, and how can participation be fruitful for all regions in the world.
But one aspect is already clear. Probably better than anytime before have the visa problem been so easy to solve, one of the greatest obstacles to hold meeting in many parts of the world, especially the EU and North America. The country at the foothills of the highest mountains in the world have one of the most generous visa procedures in any country. You can get visa upon arrival accept for the following countries were you have to apply in advance: Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland
Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan Syria according to the immigration authorities: https://www.immigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa
So in many ways WSF is on its way to heaven opening its doors to more countries than ever, being politically well motivated by movements from a whole continent and the Himalayas with the Newar, Pahāṛī, Tamang, Sherpa, Magar, and other peoples used to live close to the sky.
Meanwhile a working group has been set up to start a permanent assembly calling itself World Assembly of Struggles and Resistance of the WSF. A set of principles have been formulated in this self organized building on the decision made in the WSF International Council in early December 2022:
“The IC recognizes the initiative of a World Social Assembly (name to be confirmed). It recognizes that this is an autonomous process and that it can count on the support of those who make it up. A committee will be created to define its rules and to invite other movements that are not part of the IC to be part of its committee and of the assembly itself.”
“The IC affirms a consensus on the general process of the WSF which includes 1) The process of the WSF centralized events, the autonomous process of the World Social Assembly (name to be confirmed), the thematic forums, the continental and local forums”.
The assembly initiative is inspired by the WSF Charter of Principles adopted in Porto Alegre in 2001. It respects the principles and values mentioned in the WSF Charter of Principles, especially the values of its democracy, its transparency, its pluralism, its diversity, its equality and its solidarity. It wants to contribute positively to the global struggle against a political, economic and social system based on capitalism and neo-liberalism, inequality, gender, racial and religious discrimination and wealth accumulation, environmental destruction, militarism and patriarchy. It promotes peace and justice, human rights, and respect for nature and all forms of life.
The assembly can organize events, in total independence from the IC, and without limiting itself to the WSF agenda, which is the prerogative of the IC, to promote its principles and values and to articulate the actions of organizations that share them. It is composed of members who declare themselves in conformity with this charter of principles and values and with the missions mentioned in point . It speaks on its own behalf, not on behalf of the IC or the WSF, on key political, economic and social issues. It will do so in a democratic and transparent manner, preferably with the consensus of all its members, if not with a qualified majority. It may support regional, national or thematic events that are consistent with this Charter. The assembly shall adopt a communication policy to ensure the widest possible dissemination of its actions and have a secretariat for its daily work. The assembly meets regularly, including in case of emergency to take exceptional decisions and maintains regular and cooperative contact with the WSF International Council.
The assembly working group have started two initiatives. One is supporting the International Summit for Peace in Ukraine Vienna/Austria, June 10th/11th 2023. Under the slogan Peace by peaceful means is the goal to publishan Urgent Global Appeal, called the Vienna Declaration for Peace, calling on political leaders to act in support of a ceasefire and negotiations in Ukraine.Inviting Organizations are International Peace Bureau, CODEPINK, World Assembly of Struggles and Resistance of the WSF, Transform Europe, Europe4Peace, and International Fellowship of Reconciliation. Among local organizers are AbFaNG (Action Alliance for Peace, active Neutrality and Non-violence), ÖGB – Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, and Internationaler Versöhnungsbund – österreichischer Zweig-,
The other initiative is to promote discussions on movement strategies on the global situation. These can be regular bringing movements together at national, regional or global level. They can also start by asking global movements what we can learn from them and what the assembly can offer to them. A third possibility is to ask a small number of intellectuals, one from each continent, to update our common understanding of the state of the world in which movements can act. Especially important are movements connecting the local to the global both ways.
So while WSF is on its way to get close to the highest mountain on Earth and an assembly is challenging global movements to take part in a permanent process there is also the will to bring back the hindsights to the local level and daily life again. A hope for breathing together in an open space while also gather strength by converging our forces in the work here and now for another world.
Member of the International Council of WSF for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam