• ciwsf elements1 on wsf2013

last modified May 3, 2013 by facilitfsm

Some elements on WSF2013  – (a contribution to Caritas Lebanon report)


1/ An attractive WSF event

WSF2013 edition of the world social forum event is deemed by most observers a reasonable success with over 50000 participants, (above organizers minimum target figures of 30000) with good participation of Tunisians, and among them youth, and significant international participation, with large delegations from France Italy Morocco Egypt, Brasil, North America.

During three days, around 1000 activities were held, in campus of university El manar http://openfsm.net/projects/memotunex/memotunex-programme-complet

The opening march was very lively and was a good indicator of diversity and presence of some Arab spring energy in WSF. http://openfsm.net/projects/memotunex/memotunex-marcheouverture

Around 30 self organized “convergence assemblies” took place, and the documentation of those and their declaration is ongoing as for example here :http://openfsm.net/projects/memotunex/memotunex-assemb


2/ Tunis extended, a contribution from Caritas in WSF organizing effort

Caritas was involved in the organizing effort of WSF2013 through Tunis extended initiative, taken into account early in the Tunisian committee, and undertaken jointly by  a group of persons involved in local social forums or decentralized WSF activities and backed up by their respective organizations Caritas internationalis - Doustourna ( a Tunisian organization started 2011) Rosa Luxembourg foundation ( Germany) . The extension of the forum is a way to decentralize it  and develop local participation which is in line with CI values and CI views about the world social forum

With the orientation and support from this group, 70 Tunisian students working in 18 groups supported during 4 days extension of the forum In various ways, developing, despite poor internet connectivity conditions, experience about how to create conditions for much needed inclusive decentralized participation coherent with spirit of wsf  :

1/ Enlargement of activities in Tunis who wanted to broadcast outside and after Tunis http://openfsm.net/projects/memotunex/memotunexindex

As an example : Organizers of Caritas Internationalis workshop have  successfully explored different aspects of extension of the workshop ( broadcast on the internet and live chat during the activity ) despite initial difficulties linked to a lower than expected internet connectivity on the campus http://openfsm.net/projects/memotunex/memotunea1149

2/ Tele-encounters with groups out of Tunis, sharing emotion of the event http://openfsm.net/projects/memotunex/memotunex-tele-rencontres

(one tele encounter was made by caritas France)  

3/ Tele visits of the campus http://openfsm.net/projects/memotunex/memotunexvisit

4/coverage of convergence assemblies http://openfsm.net/projects/memotunex/memotunex-assemb

Beyond the various format of communication with Tunis, the extended forum concept can also be grasped in this list giving an overview of local activities “connected” at least by the heart with tunis that happened in France  http://openfsm.net/projects/facili-tation-de-fsl/tunis-etendu-en-france


Social forum extended initiative is meant as a contribution to WSF process. It is to be noted that this type of "contribution to the WSF  process" by CI as an IC member organisation meets growing acknowledgement inside IC and beyond, as can be seen through Chico (see his input in evaluation session) Gus (he mentioned a 6th point in his intervention in IC future discussion about voluntary contribution of organization taking extension as an example, and Cindy (at the very end of meting thanking tunis extension after thanking the interpreters )


3/Positive evaluation of WSF in international council meeting

A meeting of the WSF international council took place just after the forum event, as is usually the case –A 80% webcast transcribed in a mix of various languages is available here http://openfsm.net/projects/ic-extended/icextended-tunis-2013

Evaluation of WSF2013 by IC participants ( see part 1B) was generally quite positive : Everyone was relieved that the forum took place with good participation : 4500 organizations, out of which 1700 Tunisians, and without major incidents. Tunisians mentioned the coming of WSF had brought a climate of tolerance and democratic debate in Tunis.

Indeed the forum has been successfully organized by a reduced non party-backed Tunisian team with hardly any forum experience, (helped by some more experienced French organizations). Their civil society experience developed in the adverse conditions of Ben Ali’s regime, helped them navigate in a highly unstable national political context, with good support of university staff and clear negotiation with the government about help without intrusion and security

Some non logistical weaknesses were mentioned by IC members and Tunisian committee, among which : insufficient support to women assembly, practices incoherent with forum political culture (trampling of the Israeli/US flag – interruptions of self organized social movement assembly, performed by some Moroccan organizations, refusing the way declaration of this assembly dealt with western Sahara case) - low participation of sub-Saharan countries – non implementation of final moment of WSF on Bourguiba avenue in Tunis as had been planned in preparation meetings.

It was said the WSF was a success “despite IC”  -which is in part unfair, as  potential cooperative energies  appearing and solicited in Monastir IC july 2012 were not tapped afterwards by a Tunisian team that was mostly immersed in Tunisian context and relying on support from a few French organizations.


4/Context of theos  Tunis meeting  on IC future

The energy of this WSF 2013 has generally recharged batteries of IC participant organizations about future of WSF process, and thus gave an energetic turn to the long awaited discussion about IC future.

This IC meeting was coming indeed after a poorly attended and depressing Dhaka IC meeting (end of 2011), and a largely chaotic, yet energetic, Monastir meeting (mid 2012), which was de facto “inclusive and open to all before wsf tunis ”, and did not allow focused discussion between formal IC members on the issue of IC future http://openfsm.net/projects/monastir-extension/monastirextension-programme-fr

International council is a body existing since 2001, and yet without a strong and explicit consensual image of its role : is it a “social movement parliament” orienting world emancipation struggles ?, or is it a “college of wsf event consumers” invited to participate in meetings expressing their needs?,  or is it a “facilitating collective” at service of something called “social forum process”,  a notion which need hands on practice in order to be apprehended ? These are some main ways to express role of IC

Also, IC record of organizational efficiency is deemed rather low by its own participants, for contrasted alleged reasons, among which 1/  the neutralizing effects of the methodology facilitation and power relationships in the IC meetings, and 2/the inconsequent behavior of iC participants, many of who delivering wishful thinking speeches in IC meetings and not acting in between meetings to carry forward decisions, and develop facilitating actions about WSF process.

During those IC meetings, twice a year,  in a context of biennal events changing places,  not enough attention time are generally given to practical implementation issues related to general discussion ,  which results in dispersed or unilateral practical actions between meetings,  delayed start,  too little one line work,  and finally in a slow learning process, with a lot of missed opportunities.

These various visions of how and why “IC does not work enough” are mixing with a diversity of “political” views between more radical social movement, and more moderate NGOs, who are having so far easier access to the funding ( tens of thousands of euros for one meeting) which is necessary to sustain the current standard of operation of the IC, with its 100 people meeting twice a year and secretariat (now reduced to one person)  -


5/No more than exchanging views

The long awaited debate on IC future started with several organizations insisting to have a plenary debate, instead of a “split in 3 working groups from the start” that was proposed by facilitators

Chico Whitaker made an initial provocation- ( part 1.F) describing IC as “dying white elephant which needed euthanasia”, and proposed to move six month later to a collective of forum organizers

The discussion went on (part 2) with a long series of opinions about relevancy of IC (mostly supporting its continuity) and about proposed evolutions/changes to be performed in IC and in the WSF at large.

Some participants in 2011movements ( occupy wall street – indignados 15M .. with no organizations backing them were attending the meeting – some of them included through invitation by certain IC organizations –some coming on their own

At the end of the day,  one participant in occupy wall street and one person with radical social movement views ,spoke out in a negative critical way aobut IC and wsf ,  which arouse reaction of one key Moroccan organizer. The day ended without significant collective progress in the discussion


The next day,(part 3), three one hour group meeting were held, in order to structure on line work in three corresponding groups until a next IC, which  after discussion, is to be held inasmuch possible in the Maghreb Mashrek region (probably morocco, or Egypt or Tunisia) and, if not in Vienna as a plan B


A working group 1 on “practical tasks” - organizing consultation for candidacies for the next WSF in 2015, to be hopefully decided in the next IC, and also preparing move of secretariat to the 2015 WSF region, and mandating some practical work on unifying moving  wsf mailing lists and documentation of outputs of WSF 2013

A working group 2 on “future of IC” answering the question: “what kind of IC is needed ?” -with a series of quickly and not precisely defined task consultation evaluation cartography ….

A working group 3 focusing on a deep and tricky question quickly worded as  : “which WSF is needed in the world that has changed a lot since WSF start in 2001?”

Finally this meeting was mostly a moment of expression of general opinions on WSF and IC, and with only a little part of focused discussion, thus not in capacity to have collective progress and formulate concrete consensus decisions and implementation plans on IC governance or WSF process related issues. In this it was not different from many others IC meetings.

It is to be noted that for the first time since IC inception, this IC meeting was organized without a formally legitimate  “facilitating group”:  IC liaison group, “created in 2007 to replace “Brazilian secretariat” established 2001, had among other tasks, to organize and facilitate IC meetings, and, doing poorly, unable to replace its members, faded away between Dhaka and Monastir. The Tunis meeting was anyway moderated by a rather stable, yet informal, core group of mutually co-opted experienced “facilitators