What is the World Social Forum?
The World Social Forum is an open meeting place where social movements, networks, NGOs and other civil society organizations opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action. Since the first world encounter in 2001, it has taken the form of a permanent world process seeking and building alternatives to neo-liberal policies. This definition is in its Charter of Principles, the WSF’s guiding document.
The World Social Forum is also characterized by plurality and diversity, is non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party. It proposes to facilitate decentralized coordination and networking among organizations engaged in concrete action towards building another world, at any level from the local to the international, but it does not intend to be a body representing world civil society. The World Social Forum is not a group nor an organization.
How did the WSF start to get organized?
Click here to discover how the WSF came into being.
Who organizes the WSF?
The first three editions of the World Social Forum, which took place in 2001, 2002 and 2003 in Porto Alegre (Brazil) were organized by an organizing committee (OC) composed by eight Brazilian organizations: : Abong, Attac, CBJP, Cives, CUT, Ibase, MST and Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos.
When the WSF moved to Mumbai (India), an Indian Organizing Committee was created to be responsible for organizing the 4TH WSF in Mumbai which took place in January 2005.
For the WSF’s fifth edition (that took place in January 2005, in Porto Alegre), a Brazilian Organizing Committee was created. It was composed by 23 organizations subdivided in eight Work Groups: Spaces, Solidary and Popular Economy, Environment and Sustainability, Culture, Translation, Communication, Mobilization and Free Software (linked to the Communication WG).
The 6th WSF, which is planned to occur in January 2006, will be polycentric. It means that it be decentralized, taking place in different parts of the world. Three cities will host the WSF 2006: Bamako (Mali - Africa), Caracas (Venezuela – America) e Karachi (Pakistan – Asia). Each event will have its own organizing committee and each OC will have its own office. Click here to see the how to contact them.
General political questions and the discussion about the WSF’s heading line and the methodologies of each annual event will be debated and decided within the International Council (IC), which is currently formed by 129 organizations and its commissions: Methodology, Content and Themes, Expansion, Strategies, Resources, Communication.
There is an Office in São Paulo (Brazil) that gives support to the WSF process, to the IC and organizing committees of each WSF annual event.
Which are the WSF’s activities?
A big meeting takes place every year, gathering people from all over the world. In 2001, 2002, and 2003, Porto Alegre hosted the global event, which occurred at the same dates as the World Economic Forum. In 2004, the meeting took place in Mumbai, India. In 2005, it went back to Porto Alegre. In 2006 the WSF will be polycentric and it will have three host cities: Bamako (Mali), Caracas (Venezuela) and Karachi (Pakistan).
Within the WSF process, many Social Regional and Thematic Forums take place in order to deepen the debates in different regions and/or to discuss some specific issues, which are seen by the International Council as priorities.
Who takes part in WSF events?
All organizations, social movements and civil society entities that are in accordance with the Charter of Principles may take part and propose events at FSM. Citizens that are not linked to any organization may take part in the debates.
Governmental entities and political parties may take part as observers. Governments that host WSF may be partners in its organization. Besides, governors and parliamentarians that commit to the Charter of Principles can be invited to participate on a personal basis.
WSF has the proposal of building another world without using violence; therefore it does not allow the participation of military organizations.
Is there a final saying?
WSF does not have a deliberative character. Therefore, it does not officially promote campaigns, nor has final sayings. This was the way that has been chosen to maintain participants’ diversity.
Nevertheless, WSF has been the most significant space of international interlinkage for a new world. This happens because it helps participants to interlink and propose concrete action, since they do not state anything on behalf of the Forum.