Guidelines and Methodology for the Strategy Commission (adopted at the IC in Dakar in November 2010)
(parts in red are those where the word "faciltiation" appears)
The major role of the Strategy Commission (SC) of the International Council (IC) of the World Social Forum (WSF) is to prepare and follow-up the strategy debates in the IC and in the WSF. It is not meant to discuss analysis, strategies or actions on behalf of the social movements or of the WSF itself. But in order to facilitate their convergence, it discusses strategies FOR the IC and the WSF, but not OF the IC and WSF.
1. The SC thus has an instrumental role and will try to
a. Within the framework of the Charter of Principles of the WSF, strengthen the role and the political relevance of the WSF process as a global public good at the service of social movements, facilitating the articulation between them;
b. Cooperate with the IC, its commissions and the different social movements in order to know their priorities and demands;
c. Identify the objectives and strategies of resisting social movements, in order to look for common characteristics, suggest innovative strategies, make practical recommendations (*) to facilitate the WSF process and to promote convergence and alliances;
d. Focus on specific strategic elements – the ‘how’ of our actions that can be relevant for social movements and for the WSF;
e. Prepare the strategies for the WSF-process in order to help the movements to achieve their objectives;
2. In that way the SC will help to deepen the analysis and the process, suggest options for actions, so as to make the WSF process a valuable process to invest in, expand the process and give visibility to the WSF and enhance participation in it.
3. Discussions in the SC will be organized in such a way that the interconnectedness with other commissions and IC decisions is enhanced, more particularly with the communication and methodology commissions. Their work is of direct relevance for the strategy commission and vice versa.
4. Ensuring the follow-up of the strategy debates in the IC, the SC can feed the debates of others and promote a cumulative process of knowledge construction.
5. The SC can offer a space beyond meetings in order to innovate and enlarge the space of dialogue within the WSF process, taking into account the changing context and the interpretations of it by the social movements.
6. The SC has to examine and discuss the proposals (*) relevant for WSF facilitation strategies and for convergence stimulation that can be made by all members of the IC.
7. The SC can make proposals(*) for possible strategies and actions of and in the WSF process based on the contributions of movements, their analysis and the debates on strategy. With its summaries, synthesis and proposals, it can inspire the IC and its social movements.
The Strategy Commission was created along with the other commissions early on in the WSF process. It gained momentum at the moment that the need was felt for a clarification in the difficult discussion on the precise nature of the WSF and the demands for more political debates. At the IC in Belem 2007 a decision was made to organize a seminar on strategy at the IC of March 2008 in Abuja/Nigeria.
One of the points that was often discussed in different IC meetings was indeed the demand for political debates. Although it is clear that the IC cannot take any positions as IC or as emanation of the WSF, discussing the current political problems and the changing political context can be very useful in order to promote convergence, to coordinate our struggles and to prepare the future.
The very successful strategy seminar in Abuja (more than one hundred written contributions that were published on the website) did end in a rather lean ‘outcome document’ that did not fully reflect the richness of the debates. However, some clear decisions were taken and it was mentioned that the debate was not conclusive and that the strategy discussions were going to be an ongoing work of the IC.
At the IC of September 2008 in Copenhagen a discussion was held on the emerging global crisis and it was decided that the strategy commission would continue its work and prepare a strategy debate on it as a follow-up of Abuja and the questions that were tackled on that occasion. These questions concerned the new political context (compared to the one in which the WSF emerged) and the possibly changing role and functionings of the WSF.
One of the important conclusions in Copenhagen was that the crisis was not only a financial or economic one. It follows the emergence of a food crisis and started in combination with the growing awareness of an ecological crisis. It can clearly be seen as a civilizational crisis that will not be solved with soft reforms to the current system. It was on this basis that the second part of the debate was started at the WSF in Belem 2009 and continued at the IC in Morocco in May 2009.
In Morocco we had a very rich debate, with a positive outcome and a working programme. But discussions were rather difficult and sometimes chaotic. A similar process took place in Montreal. That is why the need is felt for some clear guidelines that can make the work of the strategy commission more democratic, transparent and efficient. These guidelines were discussed at the IC in Mexico, May 2010, where it was decided to open a period for amendments so as to adopt them at the IC of Dakar, November 2010.