Author Topic: World Social Forum  (Read 4319 times)

Holly Stick

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World Social Forum
« on: January 22, 2007, 05:53:52 PM »
The World Social Forum is on now in Nairobi, until Thursday.
http://wsf2007.org/

Article about it http://www.commondreams.org/headlines07/0121-06.htm

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...More than 150,000 people from around the world are expected to attend the WSF, in which other key issues including housing, environment, trade, unemployment, corruption, governance and human rights will be discussed.

The WSF is an annual gathering of social activists seeking to chart out ways of countering the dominance of the rich western nations. Usually, this meet of tens of thousands of activists takes place in January, as a counterweight to the World Economic Forum, an annual meeting of powerful business and political élites held in the Swiss alpine resort of Davos.
Economics is a human creation, borders are human creations and nature doesn’t give a damn about these things. - David Suzuki

kuri

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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2007, 09:35:55 PM »
Le Revue Gauche had some interesting links about backlash from the WSF:

allAfrica.com

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Charities working in Nairobi's slums have complained about slum dwellers being required to pay to enter the Moi International Sports Stadium in Kasarani, where the World Social Forum was taking place.

"The entry fee [Ksh500 or US$7] is an unrealistic amount of money for someone who - on a good day - makes less than Ksh100 [$1.50] per day," said one volunteer.

However, by staging their protest outside the stadium's gates, many slum dwellers managed to gain entry to the Forum and the organising committee eventually agreed to lower the fee.

OhMyNews

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Meanwhile, protesters raided two food stalls operated by five star hotels at the venue of the World Social Forum. The last two days had been marked by protests over the high cost of food at an event meant to discuss issues of poverty.

"I am a hawker. We are harassed in town. We came here to present our problems, but we found the big bosses selling food at exorbitant prices, and yet this function is meant for the poor," said one of the protesters.

Another one said: "The hotels are selling food at a price we cannot afford, and yet the forum belongs to the poor. That is why we invaded. We are going to eat all the food meant for the rich." The protesters grabbed the food which they then ate as the hotel staff watched in disbelief.

allAfrica.com

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But to describe only the diversity would be to miss the real, and perhaps more disturbing, picture. The problem was that not everyone was equally represented. Not everyone had equal voices. This event had all the features of a trade fair - those with greater wealth had more events in the calendar, larger (and more comfortable) spaces, more propaganda - and therefore a larger voice. Thus the usual gaggle of quasi donor/International NGOs claimed a greater presence than national organisations - not because what they had to say was more important or more relevant to the theme of the WSF, but because, essentially, they had greater budgets at their command. Thus the WSF was not immune from the laws of (neoliberal) market forces. There was no levelling of the playing field. This was more a World NGO Forum than an anti-capitalist mobilisation, lightly peppered with social activists and grassroots movements.

sparqui

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World Social Forum
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2007, 11:50:24 PM »
What a shame. There are too many people who are involved with international development, anti-poverty and civil society building that just don't get it. Sure many of these international NGOs have great mission statements and noble goals but they still seem to forget their position of priviledge or don't care about the contradictions and hypocrisy.

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Thus the WSF was not immune from the laws of (neoliberal) market forces. There was no levelling of the playing field. This was more a World NGO Forum than an anti-capitalist mobilisation, lightly peppered with social activists and grassroots movements.
If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a tractor. -- Gilles Duceppe

lagatta

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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2007, 03:50:07 AM »
Cut off from it roots in Brazil, the WSF really seems to have run out of steam. The original forum was certainly not only a conference for NGOs, and all manner of grassroots organisations, trade unions etc were in attendance.

I don't even understand the idea of charging a fee equivalent to a week's wages for many poor people in Nairobi and surrounding areas - were the organisers completely out of touch?

There certainly isn't the buzz around the WSF that there was at its inception - a very exciting moment indeed. Many small, poor groups managed to delegate someone - but obviously, they can't do that every year. I didn't even apply to be sent there as a volunteer interpreter through Babels (a collective that pools interpreters for such events) as it just seemed like travelling half the planet to attend a talking shop without radical social and political impact.

I do know people who attended, and should have more feedback soon. I don't know what it would take to get the Social Forum process out of the doldrums. Here, the Québec social forum seems stalled, after a couple of successful local ones. The usual difficulties in getting an agreement among the trade union confederations, social movements, NGOs, etc.

I suspect that precisely because of the greater poverty, it was harder to organise food and other services on the basis of non-profit cooperatives in East Africa than in southern Brazil (despite the Argentine currency crisis around the time of the first forums, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina are among the most developed parts of South America), while ensuring standards of hygiene (one CANNOT have a forum where half the participants are sick in the gut, as they haven't developed any immunity to local bugs). In short, socialism in one forum is impossible, there is no easy way around the huge inequalities in the world, even among social movements.
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

skdadl

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World Social Forum
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2007, 04:49:31 AM »
There's something elusive in the WSF's description of its organizing committees and especially its International Council. I'm wondering who is on the International Council and whether there's any story there.

lagatta

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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2007, 05:00:24 AM »
It was kind of ad hoc at first; I'll try to find out more.

CADTM (Comité pour l'abolition de la dette du Tiers-Monde) is a progressive Belgian group with a lot of ties to Africa, they should have some good stories on the forum but a lot of the stuff hasn't been translated yet: http://www.cadtm.org/

I'd volunteer, (I have translated several articles for them), but I'm scrounging about looking for paid work these days...
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

Debra

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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2007, 08:39:59 AM »
I had thought about blogging on this

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In preparation for the Nairobi WSF, a discussion paper was presented by Roselynn Musa of Femnet at a public forum, supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, on "gendering the WSF process" (Nairobi, May 2006).

The paper includes evidence from WSF participants of: a predominance of male presenters on panels followed by largely male-dominated discussions a dismissal of women's complaints when they raise the question: "how can we create another world when we don't have healthy gender dynamics in these panels?" a resistance to the feminist agenda, which remains on the margins of the forum the feminist struggle still seems something by women for women. Few if any men are present in the gender/ feminist workshops and panels gender/ feminist issues are not integrated into all the themes: economy, for example, is still seen as a neutral issue. And even on top of all that:

Women participants are subject to sexual harassment, physical violence, including rape, by male participants Musa concludes: "The World Social Forum process, unfolding against the complex tapestry of real and concrete social conditions, cannot be hermetically sealed and insulated from all the troubling manifestations of inequality between men and women."

Subsequently, Onyango Oloo, the (male) national coordinator of the Kenya Social Forum, which is the lead organisational body for the Nairobi WSF, has disseminated the findings of the paper more widely in order to stimulate the debate locally.

Violence against women in Africa is an ever-increasing concern. "Listening to the sports commentaries on the radio or browsing through certain weekly columns by male writers", Oloo says, "it is evident that sexism and misogyny in Kenya cuts across age, class, tribe, race, religion, creed, urban/rural divides and other cleavages (sic!) in society."

http://peacejournalism.com/ReadArticle. ... leID=13988
“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” —  Josephine Hart

lagatta

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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2007, 10:20:08 AM »
Here are the comments by a participant, the leader of a left-wing Pakistani party: http://www.cadtm.org/article.php3?id_article=2419

It sounds dreadfully disorganised, and certainly tantamount to exclusion of local grassroots activists. Hell, I couldn't afford those food and water (!) prices; how on earth could a Kenyan or visitors from other countries in the global South.
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

 

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