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last modified September 20, 2020 by facilitfsm

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Pierre George Representative CARITAS INTERNATIONALIS in the international council, accompanying the Mexican facilitating Collective 2021




The forum, in the charter of principles, is a space, a process, a tool, an event, (and not an actor), which has functions defined in article 1 of the letter:

intensify reflection, carry out a democratic debate, elaborate proposals, establish an exchange of experience, and articulate effective actions, 

So these are the FUNCTIONS of the forum 

The forum is a tool  it has functions like a hammer or a screw driver  - it has no objective only an actor has objectives - facilitating committee may have some objectives  about implementing the forum


So the deep question for us as forum facilitators is that  how are we going to implement “forms of participation” so that the functions of the forum are well implemented, through intercommunication between participants using these forms and that the forum is an attractive space  (with a meta narrative of political invitation to the forum) and that the participants feel empowered in the horizontal space of the forum so that it serves them better as a tool for these functions described in article 1 of the letter


Hence, the didactic CLARITY about what the forum is is important, and I think there are a series of CONFUSIONS that we must try to identify and avoid 




  • So a first confusion is to  confuse participate and facilitate

When you participate, you can participate politically with the goals of your organization, its objectives, etc.

When you facilitate, when you contribute to define and specify forms and times of the forum and the acts of participation in it, there is the discipline and the need to reach a consensus on "how are we going to facilitate the forum", among those who are going to make you want and invest in this, and that they are politically diverse  


And there is one such as a position of "reserve in the matter of political contents of the lx that are acting as facilitators", of not influencing or dictating the contents, Impositively, because the political contents in the forum are produced by the participants, not by them. facilitators 


The facilitators do not replace the participants politically, the facilitators take care to invite in the space as widely and relevant as possible, and take care to propose   stimulating forms of participation (form of online meeting, presentation of activity initiatives, in the form of " common moments "in the event), and then the participants, using these forms of participation, create the contents, affirm their policies and their capacities, or not, to create articulations, to promote and reinforce in the forum, through the forum, initiatives powerful (struggles, campaigns, transformative projects), with decentralized dates-actions around the world

So confusing participating and facilitating   is a first confusion 


  • A second confusion is to  confuse the facilitating collective and the forum, or the International Council and the forum. 

It is not the same: there is no representation: in the forum the participants are autonomous, they are the political actors in the forum, and the Facilitating Committee and the International Council only facilitate, concentrating on the forms and times, they are not a political directory of the contents.

On the other hand, the political positioning of the forum space is ensured by the series of "generic values ​​of participants", described in the letter of principles (a large part of the letter is dedicated to the description of these values ​​and goals

that it is conceived to be able to accommodate a vast majority "against hegemonic" of the world population, the 80-odd percent, perhaps not the "99%",  

Then the possible political articulations between participants take place in these spaces, some more "radical", others less.


  • A third confusion is  where the notion of consensus is relevant. 

The concept of decision by consensus / consent is not for the contents discussed in the forum, the contents are free and the articulations are given freely or not

The practice of consensus is only for facilitation decisions in the facilitating collective of a forum event and in the international council , so that there is joint action and effective cooperation, to create the forms of participation of a process and event with the generic objective of the facilitators that it is  to best implement the functions of the Forum

  The consensus will only be used to make decisions that help guide the joint action of the Facilitator Collective in relation to the preparations for the World Social Forum; For political interactions between participants, it is free dialogue and voluntary agreement that governs articulation efforts, not consensus  

  • The fourth confusion is  talking about the forum as if it were an actor 

That many times, people tend to feed this confusion, saying “the forum wants that, the forum has to do the other, no, the forum is a space, or they are the facilitators who want certain things in the implementation of the forum, or They are the participants who want to make their politics in the forum, which is done for that, right?




So, once these confusions are cleared, with a clear communication that the forum is,  there are two views at the moment among those who are interested in facilitating the forum process :   


-the " re-politicizing "  : it deals with how to  re-politicize the forum  , described as a single entity rather than as a space-process, a forum that has supposedly become "apolitical", under bad influences, this apparently happens by "subordinating the methodology to political objectives ”(objectives expressed by whom, with what legitimacy?), devaluing or changing the letter of principles),


This vision comes with a narrative that says "we need less Charter of Principles or another letter" and we need a "political narrative" to unify us so that "the forum acts" or that "the forum is more political" (a recent expression of this vision “Repolitizadora” is the table of February 5 in Mexico - http://openfsm.net/projects/dibco1/dibco1-2020-discusionfsm-comment7-input20-1en  )  


-the "political-methodological"  says "we need to better implement the generic facilitation work program formulated by the Charter of principles" It is about how  best to methodologically implement the functions of the forum  as described in the letter of principles so that the participants can appropriate and use them to profit in relation to their wishes and expectations, goals, political objectives, and perceive the forum as useful and relevant.  In other words, the intentions are political and the pathways are methodological.

In this vision, the facilitators say “we each have our policy, the responsibility of the participants is to make articulations, and the responsibility of facilitators (who are also participants) is to propose forms of participation with self-organization in this horizontal open space that stimulate these freely made joints




With the methodological Political vision,   acting as facilitators and abstracting from our own political goals that may differ,    we cooperate to advance in the methodological implementation of the principles and functions of the forum ,


In other words,  proposing forms of participation , (such as self-organized online meetings or promoting initiatives) and   accompanying them with a clear invitation narrative, announcing “why and for what” we propose these new forms


-so that they are better appropriate and used autonomously by the participants

-so that the FUNCTIONS of the forum are more effective , and that participation in the forum is perceived as more interesting, productive, creative, effective, in relation   to the political goals of the participating organizations


So, the problem, and the facilitation objective is to  methodologically innovate and dynamize the process - FS2021 forum event, after a decade of methodological inertia:

It is about proposing new forms of participation for

  • - Accentuate the character of the process, and participate well before the event, with social networks, make the forum process inclusive to those who will not come to the event
  • - Encourage the projection of participants in the post event,
  • - Make visible articulations and initiatives with decentralized actions, etc.


It is also about  formulating the meta-narrative of the invitation to the forum , capable of stimulating organizations to come join and take advantage of these forms of participation, to use the forum space and tool with self-organization, according to their political goals of participants



I do not see that we facilitators are legitimate to “set objectives for the forum” which would be to speak on behalf of future participants in the forum who have their own political objectives, and they come in part to articulate them.  

As facilitators, that we put the process forward, if we can share expectations about “what we would like to happen socially and politically in the forum” that we are going to facilitate. And we will have to indicate "how" we intend to encourage this to happen, through the methodology that we will implement and also through our diverse actions of participants, with the same rights and capacities as others. 

Talking about "objectives of the forum" implies in some way that the forum is an actor, but it is a space. A space or a tool have no objectives, they have functions. A hammer has no objectives, it has functions. The actors do have objectives. If there are facilitator goals for the forum that we want to facilitate, and if there are forum participant goals, but clearly speaking there are no “forum goals”;  

One challenge is to methodologically and politically relaunch the WSF, to answer the questions that Félix asks about how to get to the Post - Event with participants who project themselves into initiatives and actions with greater articulation, and leave the process with a feeling that the process it was helpful and productive;




It is a somewhat ambiguous notion due to the use of the singular. 


In the political methodology vision, the "constitution of a" global subject "can be described as a   set, partially self-concerted, of coalitions and initiatives  ", which have been strengthened among participants in the forum, each one "building power", through action plans with decentralized implementation,

The actors in this group, to a certain extent, are capable of cooperating within the framework of some broad and global initiatives ”, even initiatives that are formulating“ narratives ”and affirming“ agendas ”with priorities etc.

Regarding the notion of “global subject,” somewhat ambiguous, this notion can be described as a qausi actor, whose most clearly visible part is an informal network of broad coalitions that have been strengthened in the WSF and in and among which Broad and global initiatives (struggles campaigns transformative projects) can be built and carried out, with decentralized actions around the world. With these initiatives, power is built and it is possible to have a visible impact worldwide.  

A criterion of political meaning   is that the interactions that give life to this network of coalitions and initiatives are according to the protocols of dialogues and decisions freely defined in these coalitions and between them, and that they maintain legitimacy and meaning for the participating organizations that are linked to these coalitions and initiatives.

 NOTE Links to three texts from a "political-methodological" view