The future of the WSF’s International Council

Presentation to the IC of some considerations, results from contributions to the working-group. New comments and contributions from members of the WG are very welcome, as they can only enrich this document. All points are open to discussion.

#1. The current historical moment

The situation to-day is very different from what it was at the time of emergence of the WSF, more than ten years ago: global geopolitics, the consequences of neoliberal capitalism, different ways to overcome the crisis, fundamentalism and new voices, actors and/or movements, in the North as well as in the South.

These multiple changes also had consequences for the agendas of the movements, which have been broadened and diversified. So have the risks we are facing. All these changes also imply that the WSF will have to adjust and adapt itself to the new historical period. It means we need a collective discussion on the possible characteristics the WSF might develop[>(1) 1].

It is now urgent to re-think the contents, the organization, the methodology, the forms of communication, the broadening of alliances, etc. This reflexion on the organizational dynamics of the IC and of the Forum, will necessarily build on the lessons of past experiences.

#2. The strategic objectives

Most urgent seems to be the necessity of presenting clear objectives on which to build our strategies.

A central point at this moment of time seems to be the development of paradigmatic and counter-hegemonic proposals in order to fight the current hegemonies, their weaknesses and their crisis. This struggle for a new hegemony, based on a plurality of actors and experiences, concerns postcapitalism, post-patriarchy, postracism, postheterosexualism, decolonization, in defense of nature an the commons. It is a struggle for a radical democracy.

#3. Who are we and where do we stand?

The IC consists of specific, sporadic and often invisible participations of movements and organisations, next to others who are more actively committed at the global level in struggles for emancipation. Therefore, at this moment in time, it is important to know who we (in the IC) are and where we stand, to re-think and adapt ourselves. We propose to map all forms of struggle and interlinkages of different movements and organizations of the IC participants. This can give us a broad idea of where we stand. We propose to make a list with basic information, as far as this is not already mentioned on the registrations forms of IC participants. This information will be gathered before the new IC meeting.

#4. More Progress with developing a new political culture

Since its inception, the WSF claimed to develop a new political culture. Even if this claim and its implications are broadly shared by all IC members (respect for diversity, horizontality, transparency, equal worth of all struggles …), the practical application of these principles was not always reflected in the internal dynamics of the IC and of the Forum. It is urgent to reflect, in each phase of the process, on the presence or absence of the new and emerging political culture.

#5. The urgency of political debates

In order to reflect on and make progress with the development of counter-hegemonic alternatives, we need political debates in the IC. We will have to define, at each meeting, the issues that need to be treated with priority. Different mechanisms are possible: proposals coming from the organizational committee of the forum in preparation, a special commission with the task of preparing the debate (Strategy and Content[>(2) 2]), proposals from members of the IC or from other commissions.

It is important to have at the agenda of each IC meeting a specific time slot (one day) for these debates. In each meeting, the thematic axes of the next debate will also have to be defined. The commissions can prepare the discussions with their members.

(For the next IC meeting in Tunis, we propose it is this Working Group who will define the issues to be discussed , points that will have to be ratified by the IC).

It may also be useful, in order to avoid the impression of ‘political tourism’ to have at each meeting a brief (academic) introduction on the political, economic, social, cultural situation of the country we are in.

#6. New interactions and alliances: from where?

At this moment in time it is fundamental for all different social movements in the WSF to contact and interact with the new social actors and movements. This can happen with strategies that ensure the presence and/or the reflection on new issues and causes of struggles, thus enriching the horizon of counter-hegemonic discussions developed within the movements.

An another important axis of interaction is the one between social movements and political forces in order to make progress in the development of counter-hegemonic and counter-cultural strategies. It is obvious that social movements have to preserve their autonomy and that the Charter of Principles of the WSF remains valid. It means that political parties and governments cannot participate in the WSF. It also means we recognize two different forms of being in politics: on the one hand as political parties in the formal spaces of political democracy; on the other hand social movements in the informal spaces of democracy.

To organize a dialogue between these different political action forms, it is necessary to build a relationship between equal partners and to organize plural teams of movements which can express the diversity of perspectives of social movements in these dialogues.

#7. The IC structure has to be re-thought, made leaner and more efficient, enriched with new voices …

It is urgently necessary to re-think the structure and the dynamic of the IC, from the point of view of its composition as well as from its organizational viewpoint.

Composition and dynamics

- Make sure that the expansion of the IC expresses a map of resistances and emancipatory struggles in the world
- Make the process open, visible, inter-active, with clear informative documents concerning decision-making

Structure: It is necessary to better define the tasks of the commissions:

- It is necessary to better define the work of the commissions on the basis of the political debates in the IC
- In order to preserve the coherence of different issues and participants, a coordination between commissions is necessary, as well as cooperation with local organizing teams;
- We need a clear communication policy in order to report on the processes and connect with different experiences and reflections. This is also valid for all the commissions: thinking on better methodologies, strategies, contents and expansion is necessarily inter-linked. The challenge is to contribute to the WSF process from a specific but coherent perspective.
- Working-groups can be made by the IC as well as by the Commissions, when there are particularly important issues which have to be dealt with or within a specific political framework. Working groups are accountable to the Commissions or/to the IC.

All this requires work and organization. The IC works with people on a voluntary basis and the challenge thus is to turn this voluntary work into a political, individual and collective activity, with responsibility and accountability.

#8. On the dynamics and methodologies of World Social Forums

The WSF is an open space and has to remain so. Nevertheless, we think that for every forum, we have to define priority issues on which more knowledge has to be built and which have to be linked to other issues. Therefore, we propose to work more actively, together, on a central core of co-organized events, in order to prepare and facilitate the convergence with the self-organized events . We already have different experiences with this procedure, in national as well as regional forums and in the WSF itself. It can be useful to further examine them.

#9. On sustainability

We know the funding of every forum is a problem and this will continue to be so. In order to promote the financial sustainability of the process, the IC has to take its collective responsibility.

#10. Finally, (for now …)

An important question is how, given the circumstances and the decisions taken in each case, we can be useful to the movements and to their struggles.

[#(1) 1] Rita reminds us we have to separate the analysis of the IC dynamics from the process of the forum and the forum as event. Obviously these three levels are inter-linked but each one has its own dynamic.

[#(2) 2] We propose to give the Strategy Commission also the task of discussing ‘contents’. This can be done in coordination with the Methodology Commission.

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