• World Social Forum in Tunis 2015

last modified April 26, 2015 by Tord

The initiative to promote peace through a dialogue between civil society in Donbass and Kiev to solve the Ukrainian crisis took a step forward at WSF in Tunis 2015. You find the statement from this dialogue and a report here: Dialog for peace and social justice in Ukraine and other activities in which Prague Spring 2 network was involved on Ukraine, Syria and Greece.

Here you find selected reports and assessment of the WSF process 2015 and quotes and debate on WSF 2015


Below you find 

200+ links on WSF 2015


The present state of art regarding WSF 2015 https://fsm2015.org/en reporting. I have been doing this by listing all contributions to the WSF discuss list and add some other comments for different sources by a rather simplistic search on the web. 

The result you can find below. It seems that the WSF discuss list is very central for understanding the WSF process and get a wealth of comments from different viewpoints. I cannot find any similar quality on the web. Other places that has been valuable as Europe Solidaire reduced the entries on WSF from 16 in 2013 to 4 in 2015. http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?page=mot&id_mot=227. The German website weltsozialforum had the same small amount of entries both 2013 and 2015 to name a few examples showing the importance of WSF discuss. 

The search on the web has been a simple one. I looked for links in a few languages, English, French, Portuguese/Spanish and added some odd languages (Swedish and Russian). I only looked at the first 100+ in English and less entries in the other languages. In general many links today are advertising for specific NGO events at WSF, there seems to be less comments and reports about what actually happened than in earlier days. (I made a complete search through some 6000+ links regarding the European Social Forum 2008 in many languages. My impression is that the balance also in WSF reporting have been more lively and differentiated at earlier WSF. 

In spite of this I find WSF 2015 a lot more interesting than all other social forums I have been able to attend or follow via reports. For one thing because of my impressions during my participation but also by reading reports and looking at the outcome. For me personally it was the second WSF, the first was in Belem 2009 were I mainly participated in many activities outside the official program together with Via Campesina and WST during their 25 anniversary celebrations all through Brazil. My experience of other social forums are not very extensive either. I was part of organizing ESF in 2008 as international coordinator and participated in 2010 in Istanbul. I have also been participating in Denmark and Finland social forum and various social forums in Sweden as well as Asia Social Forum in Hyderabad 2003. I continuously follow up on the ESF in 2008 through the all European social forum network Prague Spring 2 against Right wing extremism and populism. So there are many more people with long time experience of WSF. On the other hand I have been participating in the kind of global summits protests and different kind of open space and peoples summits as well as international popular movements campaigns since 1972. My assessment may thus differ from many others. It is mainly focused on the outcome from an action-oriented popular movement perspective.

Below I have sorted the links in different categories in a somewhat less structured manner.

1. Introduction

2a. Texts posted on North African websites seeing what locals want to address as especially important. 

2b. Other selected general analysis and reports  

3. Popular movements reports. What they say themselves or what they select to present on their websites. This as most of my search is not the result of a systematic search but anyway an attempt at looking into what easily can be found. Here sometimes there is also reports from specific issues addressed at WSF of relevance for popular movements or one could say are forms of emerging popular movements. 

4.  Reports and comments mainly from an NGO perspective

5.  Diverse comments from different countries. Partly they overlap the links above. Here though quite often there are some left wing sources. 

6. An odd source on leftwing political parties, actually which MPs from EU were present.

7.  a complete list of entries on WSF 2015 on the WSF discuss list. Here one can find some important texts who are yet not available on the net. It is also an indicator of what is causing the greatest concern. 

8. Comments on the WSF 2015 made in advance by voices from Marocco, Senegal, Germany, Finland/Italy and Switzerland as well as expectations about Canada 2016.

9. On WSF 2016

10. WSF 2015 Videos

11. WSF 2015 Photos 

12. Translation

13. The list of official WSF convergences and the final Assembly of Social Movements declaration.

1. Introduction

- This introduction you can read after you made your own judgement from the links below. 

In general what was new for the WSF 2015 goes generally unnoticed. Most commentators found the same kind of practical and political problems with WSF as always. There is the obstacles with translation and other practicalities, less people coming, less spirit compared to 2013. It is by some seen as mainly a regional meeting for North Africa, by others mainly for the Global North. The political outcome and relevance is seen as questionable. Many point at difficulties in both Arab countries and Europe as a cause to these shortages. In short the situation is not good. 

I assess the WSF 2015 drastically different. I find a basis for this in some of the reporting. I do this by looking at WSF from a popular movement perspective. This means that building alliances between different movement and acting together is a key to see if WSF is useful in the future. In practice this means if WSF in Tunis is evolving more in the direction of the Peoples summit in Rio 2012 or the US Social forum who both prioritized popular movements and activists before NGOs and experts. And above all if the convergence during WSF 2015 helped movement to act better to change societies and the world more. 

On several issues of importance the WSF in Tunis was rather taking a step backward than forward. The struggle against austerity made some steps forward on burning issues as solidarity with Greece but in general I cannot find that there was more vitality to such social issues at this WSF than before, rather I would guess the opposite. On the issue that most observers claims WSF and its regional counterpart European Social Forum have had an political impact is the call for world wide demonstration against the Iraqi war 2003. Nothing compared with the mass mobilization of that kind on peace issues took place in spite of the acute situation with wars with worrisome risk for escalation that now takes place. 

The presence of the left had also diminished quite drastically, and so the numerous calls for making WSF into a decision making body of the global left forces and their allies among the so called "broader left". The more well known intellectuals were also not present or not invited. Comments less than normal and news reporting very small. 

Yet I claim WSF in Tunis made historical steps forward concerning its weakest spot, the linkage between talking and walking, between discussing and acting. This was done with the help of the open space concept which has disabled the political parties to take control of the convergence of the political outcome. Instead popular movements have now matured and taken the leadership of the convergence during WSF outside the official convergence assemblies building a global multi issue popular movement. 

This goes unnoticed by most observers who are used to the perceived efficiency of the market or governmental decision making or the political party as the main political actor. The way the WSF has been presented has often been in contrast to earlier more hierarchical left wing traditions as if there never been open space forum before or parallel development of struggles and alternatives to the WSF process. By claiming WSF as unique and missing to critically compare WSF to other historical or simultaneous processes the WSF observers have been blind to what is going on. Especially the left has been and continuous to be confused of what they see and do not find what they are looking for at WSF and at few other places either. 

At the same time as some key popular movements starts a convergence outside and inside WSF the open space formula is showing its strength by providing a platform also for several issues of key importance although not resulting in the great immediate response. WSF is the breeding ground for some emerging popular movements or convergence between old movements. Also the quality of this development seems to be unnoticed by many. This covers such important issues as peace which has been a key issue for international movements and summit protests since at least the 19th century as well as defending the public space on Internet. 

Thus in spite of its current weakness in many quantitative terms the WSF 2015 have shown its capacity to renew itself in a time of objective social and ecological problems in many parts of the world. A time were movements and different political forces have hard to renew themselves and find ways to turn the objective circumstances into subjective possibilities for people in common. A time when both another WSF and another movement of movements is necessary.

Tord Björk

2a. North Africa

Reports on North African web sites can be seen as specially important. Here also Tunisian press. 

Cihan Tugal: Those who want to build and those who want to fight, The World Social Forum with a North African Twist: 


The abuses of the World Social Forum: Towards the end of the process? Mimoun Rahmani ميمون الرحماني : 


A traditional assessment by Roberto Savio, founder of the important third world news agency IPS:


Teivo Teivanen, professor of World Politics at Helsinki university, long time observer of WSF:

Benny Kuruvilla is the policy chief of the South Solidarity Initiative, based in New Delhi, India and Susana Barria works at the Global Secretariat of the Peoples Health Movement, based in New Delhi, India, Advancing Global Solidarity in Tunis and Beyond:

Tord Björk: Days in Tunis that changed the world:


3. Popular movements

Another actor of importance can be stated as global popular movements. 

Peasant, Women and environmental movement

Here the general assessment made by Via Campesina and at a press conference by VC, World March of Women and Friends of the Earth International are of interest: 

La Via Campesina, World March of Women and Friends of the Earth International on global Popular movement strategies after WSF:
Miren esto:  https://vimeo.com/123711571

ATI, LVC y la MMM hacen un llamamiento conjunto a fortalecer la campaña mundial contra las trasnacionales y su arquitectura de la impunidad, a apoyar el día de acción mundial el 24 de abril contra la violencia económica contra la mujer, para expresar compromiso con la construcción de soberanía alimentaria, luchar por agua y agroecología, contra la mercantilización de los derechos, los cuerpos, la vida y mostrar que estamos juntos para defender las demandas de los pueblos en la etapa previa a París y después-

A feminist analysis:

On Climate space and climate convergence there has been extensive discussion on WSF discussion list. Several of the reports are unfortunately hard to find on the net and exists so far only in odd formats as Power point or emails. Below the French reports on the climate meeting before WSF and a seminar during WSF. Also a report from 350.org mainly with inspiring pictures. 

About the Dismantle the power of corporations campaign:

In general it seems as if the peasant, women and environmental movement is getting closer and closer in a joint multi issues struggle for system change. This is a process that has been going on for quite a while, mainly outside the WSF process. Friends of the Earth International have appointed Via Campesina as their main cooperation partner and work also closely with World March of Women. All three of these movement have a strong democratic leadership from all continents. ViaCampesina have from the very start been d´critical towards the lack of action-orientation and convergence within the dominant WSF model. Friends of the Earth never participated fully in WSF and still prioritize direct cooperation with Via Campesinamore than WSF. The experience of Friends of the Earth Brazil which is based in Porto Alegre of WSF has been in many aspects. The criticism of several popular movements resulted in a confrontation with the WSF NGOs in the preparations for the Peoples summit in Rio 2012. Here a model for convergence of popular movements on some key issues were used which brought about a focus on direct cooperation and action. This developing a kind of preference for such movements that has a local base and address the daily life of people in common while at the same time take part in national and international struggles. Violence against women thus becomes part of all popular movements agenda and a general politics against false solutions and a just transition is emerging. The foremost result of the Peoples summit is the Dismantle the power of corporations. 

This growing multiissue convergence between several popular movements have clear limitations. It is able to make alliances with those NGOs that sees their role as supporters of movements and gradually develop a more outspoken clear vision of alternatives. But it is not yet resulting in developing a global campaign apart from the anti corporate rule campaign. 

This became evident at the WSF or actually before the WSF at the international campaign meeting preparing for the climate summit protests in November. At this campaign meeting prior to the official WSF program there was little presence of the content in the emerging closer cooperation between the popular movements and more of a main stream NGO agenda with strong emphasis on logistics. Yet during WSF a far more radical convergence took place both within the Climate Space and its 17 seminars which included the Dismantle the power of corporations and as well the convergence of all 80 climate activities during WSF. 

This is quite different from earlier WSF or the Cochabamba meeting were the radical messages and action orientation took place outside the official program. 

In general is this convergence of many movements in a multi issue movement campaign each one on their main topic while finding common ground on the climate justice message a great achievement. It has a long story with special momentum from the Peoples summit 2012 and the Climate Space at WSF in Tunis 2013. It has on the wsf discussion list caused most comments and involves more different kind of movements than any other issues during wsf 2015. 

It goes fairly unnoticed by most observers and if it noted than only in terms of separate campaigns on diverse issues and not the fact that an actual convergence took place with its possible importance for the future. 

Workers movement

Workers movement were less visible at WSF than ever apart from the local hosts UGTT and some outstanding trade unions as CUT from Brazil. This may be because the kind of good reports made by people like Peter Waterman was missing. There were of course much good things done by trade unions as the the work to connect people working at call centers in North Africa involving French trade unions. But big unions like IG Metall from Germany were not present according to one German report and in general it was hard to see the kind of strong presence by trade unions which has been the case at some other WSF. There was a Convergence Assembly on Union's rights but no report has been given so far. Reports one can find are more random as the following.

Many other movements were present as can be seen from the program and many reports below. I will here only look into two key areas of impoirtance, one a very long term issue that from the very start of international movement budiling has been with us and another very new.

Emerging Internet movement

It seems clear that WSF serves as an important place for the emerging convergence of diverse movements involved in protecting the public space as a common good and challenging the corporate take over of Internet. It can be seen as one of the essential frontiers in the struggle for democracy of crucial importance for all popular movements. Thus it is interesting that what seems as the most advanced initiatives in this filed is directly inspired by the WSF model and made significant steps forward during WSF 2015 in Tunis. It is also interesting to see that some of the most advanced struggle within the political system is present during SF and make use of the dense possibilities to make contacts across different kinds of barriers between movements and parties, hackers and right to information activists. 

Peace movement

At the face of it the peace movement seems to be an example in the direct opposite direction. Social forums have been before a cradle to important peace initiatives as the Anti Iraq war demonstrations. The ESF in Malmö 2008 has been claimed to result in the convergence of the pacifist and antiimperialist peace movements resulting in among other things the Ship to Gaza action. At this ESF a special Peace forum was organized which also made direct action against weapon factories and organized a large joint program. Nothing of this kind happened at Tunis in spite of the Sarajevo Peace event that took place in June 2014 proclaimed as a Thematic World Social Forum although little notice was made about this at the actual event. 

As the peace movement belong to the oldest and most experienced in international cooperation and global summit activities since 1899 it can be seen as essential that it seemed that the peace issues and peace movement was missing. There was an "Assembly for Peace - strategies of civil society" announced in the official program, but if it took place it is hard to know. The report on the official WSF website is not from this assembly but from a seminar on Ukraine. 

One of the oldest peace movement is Women's International League for Peace and Freedom established 100 years ago in the Hague. WILPF was one of the key organizations behind the Sarajevo Peace Event. WILP did not prioritize WSF in Tunis. But individual members were at least present and found out about each other and made a report. They seem not even to know about the Assembly for peace. The seminars on Ukraine, Syria and other war issues goes unnoticed. Other international peace movements seems to have been even less present. Transcend is another important part of the peace movement. Their only report from Tunis was a general report about the opening. 

Yet some maybe historically important steps were made at WSF in Tunis on peace issues. For the first time a dialogue took place between key actors from civil society and the left from both the Donetsk republic and Kiev took place in Tunis. The outcome was a joint declaration which sided against what was labelled "campism" from any side. This is strongly a different line from most of the anti-imperialist camp but also from those seeing the conflict mainly in terms of a struggle between Russian imperialism and Ukrainian nationalism. In a time when passiveness towards a a crisis with risks of possible global dimensions it is of importance that some steps are made, especially by those directly concerned. A crisis that so far has resulted in 2 million refugees and the threat of escalating into a similar war like the Croatian Operation Storm against Krajina in the 1990s, a Russian invasion of Donbass if the crisis escalates or the use of tactical nuclear weapons. That those participating in the dialogue represented a wide spectrum from the whole left wing including a trade union metall worker from Donetsk with a seat in the Donetsk Peoples Republic parliament to an Anarchist environmental activist from Kiev may indicate the historical importance of solving the differences in the actual peace movement from 1914. The notion by the trade unionist from the surrounded Donetsk city of the need to understand the technological development of our time and thus demand 4 hours working day in Ukraine may indicate the much need demands necessary to make not only by main stream trade unions in Donetsk and Ukraine but in all of Europe. 

Of interest is that similar processes as in Ukraine also has developed although a bit longer in Syria, in both cases helped by the social forum process. Here WSF and even the since five years inactive European Social Forum proves its importance in a less spectacular way than through glamorous international action days. In both the Syrian and Ukrainian case it is a dull everyday work to establish the practical and political basis for civil society dialogue from very different sides of the conflict. In the case of Syria the WSF platform provided an essential tool for intervening and establishing a trust among the opposing actors. In the case of Ukraine a network established in 2010 mainly by Eastern European participants to ESF with some participation also from Western Europe has been organizing continuous solidarity work against oppression and right wing extremism which could now be used in building links between civil society in Donbass and central Ukraine. It is of course to early to say if these highly social forum related fragile processes will have any significance in the future. Yet it cannot be excluded that they are central steps towards a more comprehensive peace movement able to build a stronger basis for long term commitment that the more narrow single issue perspective that was used in the mass mobilizations in 2003 lacked. 

Совместное заявление участников панельной дискуссии
«Диалог за мир и социальную справедливость в Украине»
Мировой социальный форум, Тунис, 26.03.15

Joint Statement of
“Dialog for peace and social justice in Ukraine”
a panel discussion with participants from the Ukraine
at the World Social Forum in Tunis on March 26th, 2015

5. Reports from different parts of the world: 

Arabic, Al Jazeera news:

German reports:
Offener Raum für Ideen
Persönliches Fazit vom WSF 2015
Dieses WSF war kein WSF sondern ein regionales nordafrikanisches Sozialforum:
Erfolgreiches Eingreifen tunesischer und internationaler SozialistInnen http://www.weltsozialforum.org/2015/2015.wsf.meldungen.0/2015.wsf.meldungen/news.wsf.2015.37/
Jungle World (German): 
Junge Welt: 

7. WSF discuss email list

March 2015 Archives by thread


April 2015 Archives by thread

  • [WSF-Discuss] Fwd: Other News - It Should be Clear What to Expect from the WSF   peter waterman
  • [WSF-Discuss] India Together: What I brought back from World Social Forum   Ashish Kothari
  • [WSF-Discuss] World Social Forum: Where is the Struggle Against Capitalism?   US Social Forum
  • [WSF-Discuss] Fw: WSF 2015 / Those who couldn’t be there   jasper teunissen
  • [WSF-Discuss] Fw: Power and Resistance at the World Social Forum   jasper teunissen
  • [WSF-Discuss] Fw: Advancing Global Solidarity in Tunis and Beyond   jasper teunissen
  • [WSF-Discuss] Fw: WSF 2015: Feminists Overcoming Challenges   jasper teunissen
  • [WSF-Discuss] Another piece on World Social Forum   Ashish Kothari
  • [WSF-Discuss] Fw: Those Who Want To Build, Those Who Want To Fight: The World Social Forum with a North African Twist   jasper teunisse
  • [WSF-Discuss] Fwd: [tnc-etns-global] WSF Global Convergence - Convergencia Global FSM   Tord Björk
  • [WSF-Discuss] WSF climate space and climate convergence   Tord Björk
  • [WSF-Discuss] Fw: Fear, Guilt and Love: Reflections on the World Social Forum from a US Veteran   jasper teunissen
  • [WSF-Discuss] 228 links on WSF 2015   Tord Björk
  • [WSF-Discuss] Days in Tunis that changed the world   Tord Björk
  • [WSF-Discuss] World Charter of Free Media   jasper teunissen
  • [WSF-Discuss] Fw: The World Social Forum and the Internet Social Forum   jasper teunissen
  • [WSF-Discuss] Fwd: FR/ENG Mimoun Rahmani - Les dérives du Forum social mondial : Vers la fin du processus ? / The abuses of the World Social Forum: Towards the end of the process?   Jai Sen

  • 8. Interviews and comments in advance and during WSF 2015

    Interview with Mimoun Rahmani, chercheur en économie, membre actif du Forum Social du Maghreb before FSM. 


    Rosa Luxemburg expectations


    NIGD members expectations:


    Swiss expectactions:

    Samir Amin during WSF in Tunis:


    9. On WSF 2016

    In Spanish, Carminda (FSM Montreal Collective) interviewed by Sergio Ferrari: 


    10. WSF 2015 Videos

    Many videos from WSF International Council and more:

    11. WSF 2015 Photos:

    12. Translation: 

    Communiqué : Babels ne participera pas au FSM 2015

    13. WSF 2015 Outcomes of convergence assemblies

    Nearly thirty convergence assemblies for common action gathered during the World Social Forum in Tunis in 2015. Those published on the official WSF web site: https://fsm2015.org/en/dossier/2015/04/08/outcomes-convergence-assembliesThere are also more material from the convergencies at http://openfsm.net/projects/extensionfsm2015/comex15-assemblees-convergence and a collection of earlier convergencies at http://openfsm.net/projects/convergences/project-home

    Here are listed the divers statements made by these assemblies.