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The IC WSF :  Political body or facilitating community? Input31

PIerre George  - a representative of Caritas in IC WSF

1/INSTITUTION :The IC was instituted in June 2001 as an entity facilitating the process of the major WSF events, at the same time that it approved the WSF charter of principles, which is its founding "methodological-political pact" and gives an "ideal" vision of what the forum is. The charter gives a "vision" but does not give the "how": the implementation of the WSF process faces multiple challenges and is a collective task between those who participate in the IC and the collectives facilitating a WSF event, so far the main concrete manifestation of the forum process. 

From this institucion, IC  has the legitimacy to update the charter of principles, Initiating an update process of WSF principles, and defining the content of this update, are two decisions to be made by consensus, when this consensus is formulable at the end of focused exchanges, in IC meetings, in good conditions of dialogue, according to the practice established from the beginning in the IC.

2 / RESPONSIBILITY from this legitimacy   IC has responsibility for the practical implementation of the principles of the forum: evaluate how appropriate are the forms of participation already implemented in the process-event WSF, and define new forms of participation  of participation and co-implement those practically in co-responsibility with the facilitating committees of the WSF event. This is the methodological "accumulation" in the IC as brazilian say

To take concrete  example :

  • A/ In 2004, through specific methodological meetings in brasil towards WSF 2005,  the CI moved towards  teh preferred option of a 100% self-organized program, apart from some common moments, such as opening or final moment,
  • B/ CONVERGENCE ASSAMBLEIES in 2008  iC meeting in Copenhaguen, IC defined  the form of "self organized convergence assemblies for action" , which was later implemented in Belem 2009. 

This  "convergence assembly" form of participation was implemented regularly  by  WSF event facilitating committes until Montreal 2016, http://openfsm.net/projects/convergences and set aside, without explicit dialogue of agreement with the IC, in wsf2018 salvador T

This option taken  was criticized from an open letter signed by Brazilians , including some representatives of IC member entities, involved in the facilitating group of WSF 2018 2018 http://openfsm.net/projects/wsfic_fsmci/salvador17-input18/#EN titled WSF space or organization- it is worth quoting an excerpt

 The "social movement assemblies" on the last day of the Forums were organized by those who shared the feeling that a final document was needed, to give everyone "directions for action" before they returned to their homes, as in every good assembly or party or religious convention. As if people present were part of a single movement, all having the same level of engagement and needing to be encouraged for types or areas of struggle considered to be the most important.  These initiatives were legitimate as collective conclusions of the organizations that subscribed to them, but could not claim to present them as the conclusions of that Forum as a whole (as they were often presented), or as the most important ones or the more strategic actions to build the " another possible world. " It was in this same perspective that in 2005 - with 150,000 participants - nineteen internationally recognized activists[9] launched a "Porto Alegre Manifesto" (or "Porto Alegre Consensus" to counteract the Washington Consensus), enumerating the twelve changes that the world needed to be more egalitarian.-( see a comment about this iniciative of  2005 here : http://openfsm.net/projects/dibco1/dibco1-2020-discusionfsm-input26-comment1-en/#4

Looking back, these initiatives were only aspects of the much wider open space process of the WSF, which made possible these and many other self-organized activities of movements, people and organizations. It would be good if they did not seek to "hijack" the WSF for the realization of their perspectives or objectives. What happens is that this struggle, almost permanent, about the character to be given - directive or not directive - to the final session of the WSF, is renewed now in the ongoing discussion around the last day of the Salvador Forum. Something like an assembly of social movements, under another name, will probably gain a privileged space in the WSF closing day, where its organizers will “funnel” to it what they consider the most important of what was discussed and decided in the activities of the Forum.


Institution of convergence assemblies highlighted by constrast he fact that the format of the final moment of the event that followed thos assemblies remained to be defined, and the improvised format of asambly of asamblies was not satisfactory as was seen in belem 2009 and Dakar 2011  andd as was clearly stated in Monastir 2012. 

In 2020 this format has not yet been defined: in 8 years since Monastir we have had .... 1 hour of focused discussion on the subject - see the Salvador meeting of October 2017: http://openfsm.net/projects/ic-extended/icextension-salvador17-16oct-evening-methodology-discussion with a clear title

Question for a dialogue - how to integrate in the WSF methodology actions of participants for transformation in society? And under what form would the final moment of the WSF event be?

The meeting lasted only one hour because later we  talked about the 2018 Salvador special assembly that is mentioned in point B above

This group proposes to include, alongside the form "self-organized dialogue activity", a new form of self-organized participation "written presentation of an existing initiative (struggle, project campaign) to be reinforced or initiated, assumed by a group of promoter organizations.

When has it been discussed? what are the opinions in the IC about it? Maybe we can discuss it at the October IC? 

Through its more than 45 accumulated meetings, the IC has spent little time in defining its tasks, and even less in evaluating whether they had been fulfilled http://openfsm.net/projects/wsfic_fsmci/casa13-wsfic-tasks-tareas-taches-cifsm/#EN 


3 / DECLARATIONS BY MEMBERS The IC as an entity is not a representative entity of any other entity, and certainly not of the group of WSF participants, since the WSF is defined as space and process, with the main manifestation to date in the form of an “event”

A/ consequently, the established practice, in the legitimate case that several member entities of the IC wish to make a political statement on the occasion of an IC meeting, has been from the beginning of the IC, to use the form of a statement of a list of signatory entities, mentioning that they are members of the IC, without the declaration being presented as “IC”.

Here is a memory space from 2014, surely there have been others before, these CI entity list declarations open or not to more signatures    http://openfsm.net/projects/icmembers-declarations/

B/ at the Montreal IC in 2016, there were two simultaneous attempts to change this practice - a request for the IC to declare the FSM space as a BDS zone, and the request for a good part, but with the exception of at least two , of the representatives of Brazilian organizations present at the meeting, that the CI made a statement as CI, on the formal dismissal of the president of Brazil in the political conditions that we know reflecting the rupture of the political alliance in the parliament resulting from the change of options in the economic power in the country

Through the two discussions in this IC, which were emotional and chaotic, it was seen that there was no consensus to create these two precedents.

It should be noted that if this group of Brazilians had accepted the procedure agreed upon until then, they would have obtained a statement with a long list of signatories to denounce the coup in BrazilIt remains to be clarified why this group of representatives of Brazilian organizations, who knew the practices explained above, came with the option of obtaining, yes or yes, a declaration "from the IC as a political body."

C/ at the IC in Salvador 2018, where the murder of Marielle Franco had permeated the entire forum, the fact of making a statement as a list of undersigned members and not on behalf of the IC, this time did not lead to heated discussions. A text version of the signatures is not found on the WSF 2018 website, but in the form of photos of signed lists

4 / WHY ARE WE IN IC?  the persistent will of some representatives of organizations or committees present in the IC, that IC also becomes a political body, through statements  or through definition of world days of action , as IC - is startling.

Immanuel Wallerstein, whose memory has been invoked in a recent “message to the world social forum”, was present at the future assembly of the WSF Montreal 2016 http://openfsm.net/projects/extensionfsm2016/future-of-the-wsf -c26 

In his intervention 29, he expressed himself clearly on the issue of the absence of meaning, not to mention the absence of internal consensus for this, of giving the IC the character of a political body

the visa problem, we are all against the Canadian government policy, but we knew there would be this problem. There are other issues like Syria, where we do not agree among ourselves - A statement by the IC, which does not represent anyone, would have no impact. The problem is in our movements. Are we going to choose CI? How? 'Or what? We must strengthen the movements, the real problem is the strength of the movements

As in the case of Syria, the recent case of the forced resignation of Evo Morales in Bolivia has shown a great diversity of appreciations in the IC.

We are not in the IC to agree politically on everything, and the fact that we agree on this or that political issue hardly interest  anyone.

Being in political agreement is not a requirement for us to fulfill our methodological responsibility. It is clear that the different options and political cultures that we have can lead us to prefer this or that form of participation, and our challenge, as a facilitating community, is to find, considering the principles we share, consensus on the forms of participation, and keep the wsf space a common space 

5/ FACILITATING COMMUNITY It could be said and can be discussed, that we are in the IC

  • A / to take care of the principles  and vision of the forum, as a diverse and plural space of encounters , clearly located as an instrument against the hegemony of neoliberalism, in which we have lived for decades. These principles are a methodological-political pact that allows maintaining the forum as a common space, where participants can at least coexist,  or better, can dialogue, or better, can articulate for common actions
  • B / to be defining and implementing in a creative way and with quality, "self-managed and common moments forms of participaton, in the space-process of the WSF. 

Formats and moments that are consistent with the principles that we take care of together, and that are containers for the political contents that  the participants produce autonomously in the forum, without us as faciltators seeking to influence those. Our main responsibility as IC,  is to improve the forms of a process that we care for and implement in common, in consultation with its participants and despite our political differences. Seriously fulfilling this responsibility gives us legitimacy. For this we instituted ourselves as IC, not for being a kind of unstainable and illegitimate parliament of social movements

Formats and moments that allow the development of new participation practices, feeding a participation narrative clearly presenting the forum, making it perceived as a useful instrument, an attractive space, an empowering process, where each entity that appropriates these forms is encouraged and supported to move forward. towards their own strategic objectives of acting articulations to join forces and better influence the struggles for another possible world

 6 / FORMATS and MOMENTS  OF PARTICIPACION some ideas to feed the discussion on these formats to be included in the IC agenda