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gustave massiah


This note has been written to prepare the discussion on the WSF at the CRID Council meeting on 6 November 2020. It updates the notes sent to the CRID instances on June 12, 2020 and July 16, 2020.

International networks of alterglobalist movements

The pandemic and climate crisis has upset situations and equilibria; it calls into question international solidarity. To a crisis that is by definition global, the responses have been mainly national and state responses. International institutions have sometimes been listened to but little consulted and rather marginalised.

Social and citizen movements have been seriously challenged. Social movements have deployed solidarity actions at the local level; in all countries innovative local solidarity networks have been set up. One of the trends was illustrated by the title of Miguel Torga's book: the universal is the local without walls.  In each country, at the national level, movements have sought to address the consequences of the social and economic crisis induced by the confinements that have resulted in an explosion of poverty and inequality. They have also tried to oppose the authoritarian drift of States in the management of health and social situations.

After a moment of questioning, many initiatives were launched to rebuild international networks of movements. They demonstrate the vivacity of the alterglobalist and internationalist movement. While seeking to open up internationally, the initiatives have had stronger foundations in the major regions. There have been strong mobilisations in some countries, but most often the initiatives have taken the form of virtual or hybrid (virtual and face-to-face) meetings. Several associations of the CRID participated in these meetings. Intercoll (IPAM) has followed these attempts more systematically; references can be found on its website (www.intercoll.net).

At the level of Latin America and North America and with strong links with some European countries, Global Dialogue for systemic alternatives organised several meetings and supported the Amazon Forum. In Quebec, la Grande Transition and the Plateforme Altermondialiste participated in Global Dialogue. WSM Discuss from Canada served as a link between many movements. In the United States, Democracy Now organised a series of meetings including the first one with Naomi Klein and Angela Davis and several meetings on the Green New Deal with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

In Asia, activity was very sustained. In India, several networks were very active. Jai Jagat, whose march was interrupted in Armenia, multiplied the meetings. Gobal Tapestry for Alternatives, launched by Asish Kothari has played an active role in several networks. 

In Hong Kong, the Global University for Sustainability has organised several international meetings with Chinese researchers, including a well-attended debate on the new Cold War. It organised the 7th session of the SOUTH South Global University (30 sessions, 130 panelists from 47 countries).

In Africa, the Maghreb Social Forum has ensured a continuous presence. The campaign for the cancellation of Africa's debt was launched in Dakar. Several movements in Southern Africa worked from South Africa. The land and water caravans are very active in West Africa.

In Europe, mobilisations on migration have been very important. The Trans National Institute, from Amsterdam, organised after several seminars, the session of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal in Berlin and is launching a Global Solidarity Campaign. A covid-19 platform of solidarity platforms has been launched. Several sites played an important role, including EESF (Europe Solidaires Sans Frontières) and the RITIMO newsletter.

Three movements have been very active throughout this period: the women's rights movement; the climate emergency movement and the anti-discrimination movement carried by the international backlash from Black Live Matters. We should also highlight the meetings of peasant social movements (La Via Campesina) and the international meetings of workers' unions. The themes most often discussed were: the pandemic and the health situation, climate and ecology, the economic and social system, discrimination, democracy, war and peace, geopolitics.



The World Social Forums

The question was raised about the place of the World Social Forums (WSFs) in this situation. There was agreement on the need for a profound renewal of the WSFs and even a new phase of the alterglobalization movement. It was pointed out that the alterglobalist movement is not just about the World Social Forums. The alterglobalist movement can be defined as the anti-systemic movement of neo-liberal globalization. Its first phase, as early as 1970, was carried, in the countries of the South, by the movements against debt and structural adjustment. Its second phase after the fall of the Berlin Wall challenged the global reorganisation (G7, IMF, World Bank, WTO) with the slogan "international law must not be subordinated to business law". The World Social Forum is the third phase. From the crisis of 2008, the Belem Forum from 2009 and the movements from 2011 onwards are raising the question of its renewal and definition of the next phase.

The movements still active in the International Council of the WSF then decide to raise the question of the situation of the WSF and its renewal. From the 75 movements present in the International Council at the time of the WSF in Salvador de Bahia in 2018, about 60 movements decide to launch an enlarged consultation based on the proposal of several Mexican movements to organise a WSF in Mexico City in 2021. The Brazilian, Mexican and several other Latin American movements, the Maghreb Social Forum, which provides a secretariat despite the difficulties, and several European movements commit themselves to this process.

A process of openness has been initiated. After several meetings between the members ofthe International Council (IC), the opening was organised in two directions. Around the national, regional and thematic forums that refer to the dynamics of the WSF. In the direction of international movements and networks that are part of an alterglobalist and internationalist approach.

A first enlarged meeting took place on 30 May (national and thematic forums) and 6 June (international networks). It was followed by a general enlarged meeting on 27 June and a meeting of the International Council on 10 and 11 October. Two new enlarged meetings were held on 24 October (thematic and national forums) and 25 October (international networks). A meeting of the IC on 7 and 8 November is expected to confirm and organise the next steps.

The enlarged meeting on June 27th proposed an approach to the movements by asking them to answer three questions: a) how do you analyse the new situation and how do you define your strategy to take this situation into account ; b) how do you define the international dimension of your strategy ? (see introductory intervention by gustave massiah at the session on 27 June)

The enlarged meetings were attended by more than 150 movements (110 of which were not members of the IC). The network meetings were attended by virtually all the international networks that were mentioned in the first part of the note. The meetings on national and regional forums were attended by the Nepalese and Iraqi forums, the Maghreb Social Forum, the Palestine Forum, the African Social Forum, the Land and Water Caravans of West Africa, the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal of Tunis, the Great Transition in Montreal, the Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish forums, ... The thematic forums present: Transformative Economies Forum, Education Forum, European Migration Forum, American Migration Forum, Health and Social Security Forum, Universal Social Protection Forum, Anti-Nuclear Forum, Patriarchy and Colonialism Forum, Free media world forum, …

The meetings demonstrated the interest and vitality of the WSF as an international alterglobalist network. They showed the willingness of the movements to build common responses to the neo-liberal capitalist globalisation aggravated by the pandemic and climate crisis. They made it possible to verify that the World Social Forum remains one of the important references of the alterglobalist movement.

The debates focused on the nature of the WSF and its characterisation as an "open space" or an "action space" and the possibility of articulating both. They also focused on the opportunity and interest of modifying the WSF Charter of Principles. The functioning of the IC is also in question. It functions more as an assembly than as a board. It decided to integrate thematic forums as well as national and regional forums into the IC and to open up to international networks. There are three active working groups open to voluntary movements: articulation, finance and communication.


The action programme: building the international space of solidarity

Three decisions were taken for the agenda of the World Social Forum process


a) A World Social Forum (Hybrid) from 25 to 29 January 2021 for the 20th anniversary of the WSF

The invitation is attached as an annex (with links to the minutes of the mmetings of 24 and 25 october 2020)

The themes selected for this forum are: climate change and ecology; peace and war; democracy; social justice; economic justice; society and diversity; communication, education and culture.

The IC meeting on 7-8 November will launch the preparation of this Virtual or Hybrid Global Forum and the programme of mobilisations.

b) A mobilisation programme, particularly in May 2021 against Davos

A programme of mobilisations will be defined on the basis of the planned meetings of the thematic, regional and national forums.

It will include alterglobalist initiatives and meetings, in particular the 2021 Summer University initiated by CRID and ATTAC.

A special mobilization date, from 18 to 21 May 202, is the meeting of the Davos Economic Forum in Lucerne - Burgenstock, Switzerland. It may be the occasion for a large-scale global demonstration on the rejection of neoliberalism and the new alternatives opened up by the crisis of neoliberalism.


c) A World Social Forum in 2022, probably in Mexico City

In 2022, as soon as health conditions permit, a world anti-globalisation event, such as a World Social Forum, will be held.

This World Social Forum could take place in Mexico City, depending on the proposals of Mexican social and citizen movements.


Annexes :

A.       Invitation to the Hybrid WSF from 25 to 29 January 2021

B.       Introduction by Gustave Massiah - enlarged IC meeting of 27 June 2020