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            SAS CONCEPT NOTE  APPROVED AUGUST 5TH 2011                   


1. Background

The World Social Forum is an open meeting place where social movements, networks, individuals, NGOs and other civil society organizations come together to oppose war, commercial globalization, militarization, capitalism and neo-liberal imperialism and to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action with a shared future aspiration, “Another World is Possible”.

The origin of the WSF is peoples movements envisioned a global society based on values such as equality, freedom, justice, cooperation, sharing and caring. Some of the founders of the WSF, were part of the First International Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism in 1996, and decided to expand the idea and make it a global forum for activists of all stripes opposing hegemonic globalization and neo-liberalism.

One of the inspirations for the WSF came from the activities and meetings held by the NGOs that paralleled the meetings and conferences held by the UN system in the 1990s. Another source of inspiration of the WSF is the big mass upsurges in Latin America starting with the struggle of the Zapatistas in Mexico in 1994. While any number of events can be cited as the precursor for the formation of the WSF, it is clear that the big mass popular struggles in the decades of the 1990s laid its foundations.

The single most important event that led to the establishment of the WSF was the Seattle protests in 1999. These protests in the streets contained many diverse forces with many different ideologically oriented organizations and movements that were organized and to a large extent responded spontaneously in the struggle against hegemonic globalization. The idea of the WSF emerged in Europe in 2000 during the meetings that paralleled the UN meetings. The idea emerged to launch a parallel forum to the World Economic Forum that takes place annually in Davos, Switzerland. Finally, the WSF was held in Porte Allegre in Brazil in 2001 coinciding with the World Economic Forum dates.

By the very nature of its birth, it is clear that this is a forum which had the participation of an immense diversity of organizations united only on one issue that of opposition to neo-liberal globalization.

Since the first world social forum in 2001, it has taken the form of a permanent world process seeking and building alternatives to neo-liberal policies. This definition is in its Charter of Principles, the WSF’s guiding document.

2. Charter and Principles

This Charter was approved and adopted in São Paulo, Brazil on April 9, 2001, by the organizations that make up the World Social Forum Organizing Committee, and approved with modifications by the World Social Forum International Council on June 10, 2001.

1) The World Social Forum is an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo-liberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a planetary society directed towards fruitful relationships among Mankind and between it and the Earth.

2) The World Social Forum at Porto Alegre was an event localized in time and place. From now on, in the certainty proclaimed at Porto Alegre that "Another World Is Possible", it becomes a

permanent process of seeking and building alternatives, which cannot be reduced to the events supporting it.

3) The World Social Forum is a world process. All the meetings that are held as part of this process have an international dimension.

4) The alternatives proposed at the World Social Forum stand in opposition to a process of globalization commanded by the large multinational corporations and by the governments and international institutions at the service of those corporations' interests, with the complicity of national governments. They are designed to ensure that globalization in solidarity will prevail as a new stage in world history. This will respect universal human rights, and those of all citizens - men and women - of all nations and the environment and will rest on democratic international systems and institutions at the service of social justice, equality and the sovereignty of peoples.

5) The World Social Forum brings together and interlinks only organizations and movements of civil society from all the countries in the world, but intends neither to be a body representing world civil society.

6) The meetings of the World Social Forum do not deliberate on behalf of the World Social Forum as a body. No one, therefore, will be authorized, on behalf of any of the editions of the Forum, to express positions claiming to be those of all its participants. The participants in the Forum shall not be called on to take decisions as a body, whether by vote or acclamation, on declarations or proposals for action that would commit all, or the majority, of them and that propose to be taken as establishing positions of the Forum as a body. It thus does not constitute a locus of power to be disputed by the participants in its meetings, nor does it intend to constitute the only option for interrelation and action by the organizations and movements that participate in it.

7) Nonetheless, organizations or groups of organizations that participate in the Forum's meetings must be assured the right, during such meetings, to deliberate on declarations or actions they may decide on, whether singly or in coordination with other participants. The World Social Forum undertakes to circulate such decisions widely by the means at its disposal, without directing, hierarchizing, censuring or restricting them, but as deliberations of the organizations or groups of organizations that made the decisions.

8) The World Social Forum is a plural, diversified, non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party context that, in a decentralized fashion, interrelates organizations and movements engaged in concrete action at levels from the local to the international to build another world.

9) The World Social Forum will always be a forum open to pluralism and to the diversity of activities and ways of engaging of the organizations and movements that decide to participate in it, as well as the diversity of genders, ethnicities, cultures, generations and physical capacities, providing they abide by this Charter of Principles. Neither party representations nor military organizations shall participate in the Forum. Government leaders and members of legislatures who accept the commitments of this Charter may be invited to participate in a personal capacity.

10) The World Social Forum is opposed to all totalitarian and reductionist views of economy, development and history and to the use of violence as a means of social control by the State. It upholds respect for Human Rights, the practices of real democracy, participatory democracy, peaceful relations, in equality and solidarity, among people, ethnicities, genders and peoples, and condemns all forms of domination and all subjection of one person by another.

11) As a forum for debate the World Social Forum is a movement of ideas that prompts reflection, and the transparent circulation of the results of that reflection, on the mechanisms and instruments of domination by capital, on means and actions to resist and overcome that domination, and on the alternatives proposed to solve the problems of exclusion and social

inequality that the process of capitalist globalization with its racist, sexist and environmentally destructive dimensions is creating internationally and within countries.

12) As a framework for the exchange of experiences, the World Social Forum encourages understanding and mutual recognition amongst its participant organizations and movements, and places special value on the exchange among them, particularly on all that society is building to center economic activity and political action on meeting the needs of people and respecting nature, in the present and for future generations.

13) As a context for interrelations, the World Social Forum seeks to strengthen and create new national and international links among organizations and movements of society, that, in both public and private life, will increase the capacity for non-violent social resistance to the process of dehumanization the world is undergoing and to the violence used by the State, and reinforce the humanizing measures being taken by the action of these movements and organizations.

14) The World Social Forum is a process that encourages its participant organizations and movements to situate their actions, from the local level to the national level and seeking active participation in international contexts, as issues of planetary citizenship, and to introduce onto the global agenda the change-inducing practices that they are experimenting in building a new world in solidarity.

3. South Asia Social Forum

In line with the spirit of World Social Forum process from Brazil since 2001, there were several events in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan organized by the activists opposing imperialist globalization. For instance, in India the Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad in January 2003, World Social Forum in Mumbai in January 2004 and Indian Social Forum in Delhi in November 2006, where activists from other countries have participated in numbers. The idea of holding first South Asia Social Forum in Nepal was discussed during Bali Climate Summit in 2007. Eventually, the WSF IC expansion meeting in Casablanca held in March, 2010 endorsed the proposal to organize South Asia Social Forum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The January 2011, SASF preparatory meeting in Dhaka finally decided to organize the forum during November 18-22, 2011.

In line with the WSF, South Asian Social Forum is also characterized by plurality and diversity, is non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party. It proposes to facilitate decentralized coordination and networking among organizations engaged in concrete action towards building another South Asia, but it does not intend to be a body representing South Asian civil society.

The ultimate goal of the forum is to create a New South Asia free from poverty and hunger caused by exploitation, deprivation, discrimination and oppression, and establish a common humanity based on equality, freedom and justice. The present context of South Asia is characterized by the crises manifested in the form of militarism, communal and ethnic conflicts, exclusion and ecological disasters caused by corporate domination and neo-liberal atrocities. Thus the role of the SASF is perceived as to counter the unjust and hegemonic neo-liberal development policies by mobilizing the South Asian social movements into a common platform against hegemonic globalization, political and social conflicts and to create an open space to exchange ideas of each other and build strategies for action.

4. Objective of South Asia Social Forum 2011 at Dhaka

The main theme for the South Asia Social Forum 2011 Bangladesh was set "Democracy for Social Transformation in South Asia: Participation, Equity, Justice and Peace".

This theme is to highlight and oppose the neo-liberal, hegemonic and authoritarian “poverty reduction” development policy and paradigm. The forum is intended to focus on this structural concern with a clear transformational agenda. However, there are various urgent and immediate

economic, political and cultural concerns of the people, especially poor, women and marginalized communities, would be addressed in the forum. There are country specific issues and there are also regional and cross-country issues. All the issues are clustered in sub-theme.

The specific objective of the forum is to create an open space for South Asian civil society, social movements and peoples’ initiatives to exchange alternative ideas and practices, and expressing global solidarity for people’s struggle against injustice.

It is imperative to say that the SASF 2011 at Dhaka is an event for sharing and expressing solidarity, nevertheless, this is also an open process and space for building further solidarity for way forward with shared vision. It is expected that the forum will be able to pave the way for further cooperation and solidarity among South Asian social activists, who subscribe the charter of WSF and oppose communalism, fundamentalism, sectarianism, casteism, and war crimes.

5. Sub-Theme (key Issues) to be addressed in Forum 2011

Participatory Democracy and People’s Movements: Democracy as “competition for power”, local autonomy/self-governance, social movements, peoples organization, peoples planning, peoples control over natural resources, peoples movement against Neo-Liberalism,

Responsive Governance: decentralization/local government, right to information, extrajudicial killing, rule of law, accountability, green governance, corruption, de-militarization,

Gender and Sexuality: patriarchy, violence against women, violence against children, hegemonic masculinity, gender based violence, transgender,

Human Rights and Dignity: fundamental human rights, children’s rights, youth rights, women rights, labor rights, farmers’ rights, migrants rights, rights of differently able people, Dalit rights, minority rights, rights of Indigenous peoples, right to shelter/housing,

Fundamentalism, Conflict and Societal Peace: communal, ethnic, political party rivalry and conflict resolution/transformation, societal peace, multiculturalism, racism, secularism,

Food Sovereignty & Livelihood Security: Land and agrarian reform, corporate agriculture, food rights, hunger, land rights, seed rights, natural resource: (forest, water & mineral), solidarity economy,

Public Services, Privatization and Entitlement: education, health (Public Heath Care, HIV/AIDS.), water, energy, transport, knowledge and technology and people’s entitlement,

Globalization, justice and development: people’s globalization vs. IFIs, trade justice, WTO, FTA, RTA corporate accountability, aid accountability, development finance. climate justice, environmental/ecological justice,

Regional and Trans-boundary Concerns:, regional cooperation, peace, solidarity, border security, religious extremism, communalism, caste, class and ethnicity, crime against humanity and war crimes, migration, trafficking, harnessing water resources for all the basin people through equitable sharing, disarmament and de-nuclearization,

Media and Cultural Hegemony: corporate control of media, consumerism, sexism, intolerance, fundamentalism, alternative and peoples media,

The above program sub theme is divided in fiver clusters

(2 sub theme in each cluster) for effective arrangement of the events:

Cluster - 1

Participatory Democracy and Peoples Movement

Responsive Governance

Cluster - 2

Gender and Sexuality

Human Rights and Dignity

Cluster - 3

Food Sovereignty and Livelihood Security

Public Service, Privatization and Entitlement

Cluster - 4

Globalization, Justice and Development

Regional and Trans-boundary Concerns

Cluster - 5

Fundamentalism, Conflict and Societal Peace

Media and Cultural Hegemony

6. Date and Venue

November 18-22. Dhaka University Premises

7. Targeted Participant

10,000 – 20,000 delegates from South Asia and beyond

8. Expected Outcome

A people’s charter of demand for plurality and democracy in South Asia declared.

A process of social movement for solidarity and collective action is initiated at South Asia.

9. Program structure

The South Asia Social Forum is principally a platform for sharing ideas and policy alternative derived from and practiced in the southern hemisphere of Asia region. The SASF Working Groups will provide the venue and required logistics to the organizations and social movements for holding events (seminar, exhibition etc.) during the forum. They will also provide interpreter, translation equipments, online database for hotel booking, solidarity accommodation, info support etc.

The program working group will hold the inaugural and concluding program including a number of centrally organized core panel discussions of SASF. It will invite distinguished personalities to the inaugural and concluding sessions.

10. Program schedule

Nov 18, 2011, 4pm – 8pm:

Inaugural Activities by SASF OC (10,000 participants) followed by cultural events.


Nov 19-21, 2011, 10am – 8pm

o Thematic workshops/ seminar (50-200 participants on an average)

o Conference (201-1000 participants)

o Indoor and outdoor exhibition, Street show/ demonstration/ rally

o Youth Forum

o Media Forum

o Cultural show, film show

Nov 22, 2011, 4pm-7pm

o Concluding session, cultural night and solidarity speeches.

11. Organizing Process of SASF

In line with the Charter and Principles of WSF, the organizing of SASF is an open, nonhierarchical and transparent process, functioning in a decentralized fashion and interrelate organizations, individuals and movements engaged in concrete action. However, to implement the forum events, SASF is in organizing process of several non-structured councils and working groups open for volunteers, with the expectations that the process will ensure the participation of all social activists is South Asia.

SASF Preparatory Council: Comprising all prospective members of South Asian countries has been formed in January 2011 followed by the South Asia Preparatory Meeting held in Dhaka on January 20-21, 2011.

SASF General Council: General council comprising all the organizations, movements and individuals who believe in concept and vision of WSF and willing to participate in the process of SASF.

The working groups are:

1. Program

2. Finance & Fundraising

3. Mobilization

4. Logistics & Event Management

5. Cultural Action

6. Media Communication

7. Website & Online Event

8. Foreign Participants Facilitation

12. Role and Mandate of Working Groups (Proposed/Draft)

1. Program Working Group

The main role is to plan and coordinate events, design procedures and develop implementation guidelines.


Preparation of Concept Paper (in Bangla and English version)

Program statement preparation and declaration in press

Initial advertisement for SASF information and registration

Detail planning of inaugural events, followed by cultural show (on 18th November, expected participants over 10,000; venue selection, guest selection and communication, )

Detail planning of events conducted by Program Working Group (19-21 November, selection of event based on sub-theme– seminar/workshop/cultural show; venue, guest, speaker etc.)

Detail planning for participant organizations in organizing events to be held on 19-21 November (workshops, seminar, theatre, youth forum, media forum, cultural show etc.)

Detail planning of concluding events on 22 November (venue, guests, type of action: declaration, solidarity speeches, cultural show.)

2. Finance & Fundraising

The role of Finance/fundraising Working Group is policy formulation, general plan and contingency plan, budget preparation and suggesting guideline to the sub-groups. The role and tasks of 2 sub-groups:

i) Fundraising (searching prospective donor, drafting proposal, liaison with donors)

ii) Fund Operation and Control (fund clearance from NGOAB, BB, ERD etc. expenditure decision, receive requisition from all working groups, disburse fund in the form of cash or cheque, receive voucher/expense report, budget control)

3. Mobilization

The role and task of Mobilization Working Group is to ensure the participation of social activists at local, regional and national level. They will prepare the detail plan of action in close coordination with Program Working group.

4. Logistics & Event Management

The main role of the Logistics & Event Management group is to support the implementation of assigned tasks for the events planned by Program Working Group in coordination with all other working groups. They also need to assist all the participating organizations who will organize events.

5. Cultural Action

The role of Cultural Action Working Group is to organize and coordinate cultural organizations, personalities and activists in SASF process. Support all the cultural events planned by Program Working Group.

6. Media Communication

The role of Media and Communication Working Group is to organize and coordinate both electronic and print media houses, personalities and activists in SASF process. They will take responsibility of media centre management, press mobilization, organize media forum during SASF.

7. Website & Online Event/Extension

The role of Website and Online Event Working Group is to develop and maintain website, online registration, responding and communicating online with guests and interested activists, nationally, regionally and internationally. During the forum (18 – 22 November) manage online centre for online communication and conversation.

8. Foreign Participant Facilitation

The role of Foreign Participant Facilitation Working Group is to facilitate the visa process (invitation letters, documents, official requirements) of foreign guests, reception, arrangements of solidarity and other form of lodging, accompaniment (if necessary).

14. Communication

A website for SASF has been launched. URL: www.wsfsouthasiabd.org. Online event registration and participant registration is expected to be started by August 2011.

All working groups will have their Email group to provide and receive all communication with each other and all the councils.

15. Follow-up and Future Cooperation

As it explicitly mentioned in Charter and Principles (2) that WSF “becomes a permanent process of seeking and building alternatives, which cannot be reduced to the events supporting it”, SASF proposes to consider the future course of actions that are not only the immediate post event tasks but also sharing and collecting ideas about future solidarity and cooperation.

Immediate Follow-up tasks

Publication of SA Charter and dissemination

Publication of reports

Review, evaluation and sharing

Long-term Process, needs attention

Coordination with existing actors

Peoples Organizations Participation in the Future Process

Future events linked to strategic goal

Linkage with local movements

Continuity of shared vision formulation

Deepening of the WSF and SASF process