• isc meeting1

last modified September 24, 2013 by ToonB


International Solidarity Committee for The Iraqi Social Forum [ISF]

Skype Chat 22 May 2013

copy paste + titles from  http://openfsm.net/projects/iraq-social-forum/lists/iraq-social-forum-english/archive/2013/05/1369397494964/forum_view#1369408585128

Agenda (as amended during the call): 











We began with the Iraqis, based in Iraq and abroad:


Ali, Coordinator of the Iraqi Social Forum

Ayat, Iraqi Social Forum, the translator

Ali and Ayat are the collective Secretariat of the Iraqi Social Forum, two young and wonderful people working for the ISF organizing committee, both based in Baghdad

Ismaeel, an iraqi living in Italy and working with the italian ngo : unponte per and the project The Iraq Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI), we are workijg with our iraqi partners on the ISF

Yahya, I am from iraq, Technical Engineering Syndicate

Ahmed, in Baghdad working on Sports for Peace and the Baghdad Marathon

Sabiha, a member of directory of CGTT and participed in the WSF in Tunisia


Next presentations of internationals:


Gershom, national cordinator for Zambia social forum and immediately past regional cordinator for 2010-2012  southern Africa social forum.Issues of the Iraq are paramount to get involved into it and provide relevant support required from us as international social activits. Zambia has been holding eight editions of the zambia social forum since 2003.

Feroz, from alternatives international, I am interested in ISF since a very long time. I think the SF process is strengthening In the region and the Iraqi civil society is ready for it. Palestine, Morocco and Tunis have set encouraging examples.

Judith, I have been involved in the WSF process as one of the interpretetation coordinators in Babels, a global collective of interpreters. We also do interpreter training before fora. My other responsibilites are in Food Sovereignty and Solidarity economy. The reason I am interested in the Iraqi SF is that I struggled for several years to get the IC to accept Arabic as an IC language, and Ismaeel and I together (with some other support) succeeded. It is a key step forward. ALso Ismaeel and I have discussed trainign for Iraqi SF interpreters

Ahmad, projects coodinator in the Alternative Information Center- Palestine

Terry, I am in the US with September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.  I have been working with the Iraqi Civil Society Initiative since 2009 and I am very interested in the ISF as a way for more people from the US to understand the visions and hopes of the Iraqi people.

Felipe, codirector of the International Institute for Nonviolent Action (NOVACT) and general coordinator of the campaing to regulate private military and security companies www.controlpmsc.org in cooperation with our partners ICSSI, UPP, PT, WoW. We are supporting nonviolent groups in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries and we deem that ISF is a good space to identify and support nonviolent campaigns.

Elena, from Sport Against Violence, in Rome (Italy). We collaborate with ICSSI and we organized sporting events in Iraq and Italy during the past 6 years.

Martina, President of the Italian NGO Un ponte per... (UPP) and active member of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) www.iraqicivilsociety.org that helped us connect with Iraqi organizations and unions till now. We consider supporting the Iraqi Social Forum as one of our priorities to strengthen the global movement for peace and justice, supporting Iraqi's struggles but also having Iraqis contribute to the global understanding of the impact of war and imperialism on people's lives

Alessandra,metalworkers'  trade unionist for 41 years; veteran of campaigns: palestine, iraq, participation in wsf process since 2001, buonasera a tutte/i from rainy rome!

Pierre, from France is member of the communication commission of the World social forum International Council and promoter  in the extension on-line of  forums, which could be very important for the ISF; sustaining social forum extension initiative since 2009 (we worked together with martina in belem) - we are just out of tunis extended with  20 teleworkshops and 18 groups of young tunisian streaming workshops in tuinis ( with precarious  internet conditions)

Alison, right now based in marseille france, from a European youth reseau- EYES (empowering youth in a european society) which aims to faciltate the connection of youth and create a visable youth dynamic across countries/ identites/ language...etc. interested in the ICSSI to help expand our youth network into the middle eastern region and especially with the youth of iraq

Toon, based in the Hague, Netherlands, is an international volunteer, active within Amnesty International.




Overview from Ismaeel Dawood:


·         The time is set for the 26th of September, because of long religious holidays in Baghdad it will be difficult to postpone to November or December.

Place: Baghdad, there are two options :

·          (1) al-Qishla near Tigris river , Baghdad governorate gave its first approval, but yet it’s not formal or final.

·         (2) Baghdad University in Jaderia but we are not sure that we can get it (the university doesn’t want any kind of politics in side its compound.

Preparation by the Iraqi preparatory committee

·         (open committee- till now we have 15 NGOs list were sent with the invitation ) is holding weekly meetings in Baghdad

·         They established sub-committees one for volunteers and the other for media.

·         The ISF has a charter that is in Arabic and English.  Committee office is in Tammuz organization in Baghdad and our colleague Ali Sahib is the coordinator: isf.iraq at gmail.com  Ali is with us in this call with 4 members of the ISF

Communication :ISF website

·          http://iraqsf.org/ is under development with limited resources this web will be in Arabic only; but the ICSSI will host the information in English: http://www.iraqicivilsociety.org/iraqi-social-forum. We definitely need technical support to develop both English and Arabic websites.

·         We have also Arabic facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iraqisocialforum

·         And a facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/321889821231298/

·         We still don’t have mailing lists, we want a smart and not complicated solutions .

Security and Visa for internationals:

(1) security of internationals and the forum might limit participation of internationals. Some Baghdadi neighbouhoodrs are relatively safe but the level of security is not encouraging at all. Internationals that would like to participate in the ISF will for sure need to accept a level of risk like the one Iraqis are facing every day, this include also our Arabic friends

(2) the visa procedure is long and most likely you will need to approach iraqi embassies in your countries. Invitations will be issued by the preparatory committee

·         Translation in the forum: arranged done so far



Duration and size

How many participants expected? how many iraqis and how many

·       Duration was not discussed, so it might be 2-3 days

·        we are talking about 1000 iraqis and then we have to see how many internationals can come


number of internationals

·        ICSSI conference held in Erbil and Basra in the past two years had respectively about 100 and 30 international participants, in our last chat with the Iraqi Social Forum they were saying that they would like to have between 50 and 100 internationals in Baghdad this year Numbers for the internationals shouldnt be  more in view of the secuirty?

·        Iraqis’ evaluation is that a greater number would make it complicated for our iraqi friends to take care of us


Security Issues?

·         internationals in Baghdad should be always accompanied by local people and accomodated in hotels in "safe" areas

·         Traveling to Baghdad for internationals is an issue, as you mention. Can we put our focus entirely on holding simultaneous events in other cities instead of trying to get a few people there?

Place / location  of forum

·         Holding simultaneous events in other cities like Feroz has just said is a good howver our experiences in holding these events in other cities it is need a good planning that demands a huge financial resources and committed key playersThe first forum in my opinion should be held in our place of strength. Is Baghdad final as venue?

·         for the moment the idea is in baghdad but the iraqi committee can select other city

·         Only to suggest that first ISF could be held where all Iraqis and as many internationals as possible can safely gather

Which Iraqi organizations are involve in the organization of the program, logistics, etc?


How many rooms for workshops

How many rooms are you talking about? will it all be in plenary sessions, or with different sessions happening simultaneously in different rooms?

in Qishla there are somthing like 15 rooms for the events so simultaneous sessions, and a few plenaries


international website

For internationals, we should be developing info and tools in english, french and spanish, portugueese. is it in the plan?

Judith: For translating the website etc, into English (and French?) I might be able to set up a small task team with some of the interpreters / translators who were involved in Tunis. For interpretation it is a seprate point//



Many issues concerning interpreters were raised and discussed:

·         you will need to consider if the interpreters will travel to Baghdad or whether you have people there

·         at this point the plan is to depend on iraqi young interpretrs , students and so on

·         many are asking to work for the forum , the chalange how to train them and help them to do this work

·         yes, the training will be the key issue. It might be possible to mobilise one of our trainers who might be prepared to go to Iraq.

·         The best time for a trainer -- Ideally it should be just before the forum.

·         financial resources are very limited, so at the moment we cannot cover the flights of interpreters, unfortunately, but it also depends on what this committee can mobilize


Sports and Arts

·         Iraqis have agreed to organize sports and arts events before/during the forum

·         There will definitely be an event called "Sports against violence" associated with the ISF

·         sports if very effective to involve people in what we are doing, even non-activists

·         Sports and arts events is welcome because it will going to mobilise and sensitize its citizens and key players about ISF.That is brilliant idea.!!

·         The other element that has the same type of impact as sports is music Music especially road shows.




Martina: our proposal is that the International Solidarity Committee is proposed by NGO representatives only, but that we have a common mailinglist in English were also individual activists who can contribute to the process can join; we propose to have a chat like this every two weeks, and continue exchanging info through the mailinglist


 Roles of NGO – visions from Zambia

Gershom:  Am now bring back my earlier points Roles of the NGOs : To provide administrative and materials support for social forum processes not to drive or make decisisions on behalf of the poeple affected with varoius social and economical negative vices.The NGOs should play a role of a facilitator.

         Individuals: within communities should take up active seats as drivers so as to sharpen the destiny of thier desires in all spheres of life.Social forum is poeples movement not organisations. Cordination tools  : poeple first are active catylist of social forum processes who should be provided with essentials if a social movement is to be on peak.Other important cordinating tool from the communities are skills that can enhance to effective way of transformation


Interpretation 2

judith.: Babels is not an NGO. We are a virtual collective of 9000 interpreters, with no legal entity. Our role could be to advise on any interpretation and translation issues, help create a dedicated group for translations (if the volume isn't too high(), and hopefully train some local future interpreters who are already bilinugal in basic interpretation techniques.

          The Iraqi organising committee could also benefit from the technical support of the NOMAD collective in Tunis, who built all the equipement, and did an amazing job there. It is an essential part of the puzzle


International committee

Martina: the International Solidarity Committee is supposed to draw international support for the Iraqi Social Forum even and for its process and facilitate exchange of information, cooperation among struggles, in Iraq and abroad ; let's concentrate on how we get organized, as internationals.

          The proposal from ICSSI is that the International Solidarity Committee is composed by representatives of groups/collectives/ organizations only (sorry, I didn't mean to write NGO), but that we have a common mailinglist in English were also individual activists who can contribute to the process can join.

Chat every two weeks

We propose to have a chat like this every two weeks, and continue exchanging info through the mailinglist.

         ICSSI staff can provide support to organize info and do basic translations and we should probably decide today if we want/need one or more coordinators of this international committee. What do you think about all this?


         I [Martina] can act as coordinator to help this international committee function, but would not "represent" in any way this great group. Would love to do it with Feroz.

Feroz agreed!


Feroz  I agree with the composition and functioning of the solidarity comm.


Mailing lists

Ismaeel: as for the mailing lists we have thought to have 2 ,


experience of ZSF

Gershom :  from zambia social forum we are pledging to popularise ISF in all our networks.

Please ISF local organising committee, you are free to call on us if you need any advice regarding holding a national social forum. We have eight years of holding such events at both local and region.


Extension of ISF out of Baghdad and abroad

Pierre: for inter-communication and extension of the forum;  I will eagerly cooperate with ISF committee and a possible  extension team in ISF  to stimulate extension of the forum -  Extension if taken seriously and early can bring an added dimension in the forum

Eg- beyond participation of 50 to 150 internationals in Baghdad it is possible to self organize several  “workshops”  gathering  30/100 people in Baghdad and 30/100 people in another country-  that would be included in the forum program as regular "activities"

you can see a photograph here  http://openfsm.net/projects/tuneafr/tuneafr19  showing on the left  the participants in france  and on the right side the participants in tunis - they talk two hours and dialogue in depth

ruraltunis.jpg P1200314.JPG.P1200315.JPG  

Pierre: http://openfsm.net/projects/memotunex/project-home

this is the work in progress memory of tunis extension



Guiding principles for organizing a forum

On this there's this document prepared by the WSF IC that Iraqis should read: guidelines for organizing a social forum http://openfsm.net/projects/ic-methodology/metcom-principiosguias-versao2011-en

the document has 18 chapters  

Introduction EN

0 - Use the document (new chapter)     1. Criteria for Participation     2. Equality of Access:      3. The Venue :     4. Funds:

5. Formation of an Organising Committee:     6. Overall commitments of the organizing committees:      7. Local WSF events:

8. Space for Horizontal Interconnectedness of organizations :    8b. Definition and usage of themes/axes/objectives (new chapter):

9 - Assemblies of Convergence and final part of the event (new chapter)

10. Translation, Languages    11. Communication      12. Website and methodology     13-Cultural and participatory approaches (new chapter)  

14 - Extension of the event (new chapter)     15 - Continuity between activities at various events (new chapter)

16 - Solidarity economy (new chapter)

17 - Collective Evaluation (new chapter)     18 - Spaces for discussing the organization of events (new chapter)

On translation of document in arabic: please check with hamouda if they already have it


SUGGESTIONS: culture  - inspirational - themes

·         What about tradition and folklor in theater?

·         The first thing that whatever is done has got to be adapted to the local culture: different things work in different places

·         Keep open spaces where people can input their proposals: that way grass-roots civil society gets involved

·         while it is ok to has some international "inspirational" stuff, it should not be overbearing & the same old stuff

·         try make sure that there are inspiratinal people from Palestine, Tunis and Egypt present

·         find the themes that could really support peaceful civil society evolution, such as food sovereignty

·         for interpretation, the equipment is as important as the interpreters, and if possible should be alternative & not commercial

·         It is essential to give the opportunity to youth and women movements to express their demands, and support the new emerging voices of the arab springs. While connecting these emerging groups with "old" organizations with good expertise.

·         environnement, work, education, women's rights have to be considered, I think

·         and women workers

·         one can review  from the program of tunis and the assemblies in tunis and get some ideas of contents and of international contacts to develop


role of IC

Question: is the WSF IC involved in the Iraqi social forum?

The IC is informed, and this invitation was circulated in the IC list



Ismaeel:  The ISF needs to discuss point 5 more , but to start with, three things:

Technical support :

  • We can start with the translation  and communication, like possible training in Baghdad ,
  • and another training can be done for communication extended forum and livestreaming and mailing lists English website and so on


 is also an issue if internationals can support the forum (ISF have some limited fund but we need to cover some of the costs

Managing the international outreach

 to and registration of internationals and facilitate their participation in ISF


Pierre: there is a list of 5000 organisations with contact email on the www.fsm2013.org website 

The list of iraqi organization in the wsf website  is here  : http://openfsm.net/projects/iraq-wsf/iraqwsf-inraq-in-wsf2013 

To access those emails  one needs to register in the website as several  : 


Sabiha: it is important to take the work envrionment into account and the trade unions, we are the second biggest union, exist since 2006, but were only able to practice as a union after the revolution in 2011


Martina: Sabiha, your role indeed will be very important in mobilizing unions of the Arab world for the Iraqi Social forum, and Tunisian activists and organizations in general feel free at any time to start writing emails to other tunisian groups, NGOs and unions of the WSF process to inform them about what we are doing

Outreach to Activist from arab region

          Participation of activists from the Arab world is very important for Iraqis, they feel that there isn't enough understanding in the region about priorities/analysis/objectives of Iraqi civil society and their view for the future of Iraq


Written Translation support

Alessandra Mecozzi: I can help as individual (retired from my union now). I can translate from english to italian and french (and to english, not perfect). I will follow you on the mailing list.


Benammar.sabiha: i can translate from french to Arabic.  I will get Ismaeel Mphamad Jribi's phone number: he is the person in the NOMAD collective. He is bad at replying to emails, he multitasks and doesn't read his mails...