Contribution of Renewal Group to discussion in Reflection Group 11 Jan 2021

General question. The deterioration of collective life in the last two decades (extreme concentration of wealth, environmental catastrophe, irregular wars that kill, above all, innocent populations, etc.) demands global responses. The WSF can be one of the spokespersons for such responses, if it is assumed as a global political subject. How to do it, given the plurality and diversity of the movements and organizations that have participated in the WSF process? Is it possible that the political subject maintains plurality in the positions it takes? How would a plural political subject be possible ?  

The four pillars. To achieve this level of intervention, four pillars would be necessary: ​​a strategic thinking that takes the pulse of the world and identifies the great trends, both destructive and constructive; a democratic process that guarantees open debate and maintains the spirit of cooperation and solidarity even in the face of differences; a system of internal government of the WSF that guarantees democracy and the effectiveness of decisions; a communication policy.

1. Strategic thinking .

-Global, plural and plurinational strategic thinking must have a general vocation: anti-capitalist, anti-colonial and anti-patriarchal. At the regional and thematic level, this vocation unfolds into many others.

– Reflection on struggles and agendas must be guided by various criteria. One of them is the distinction between important struggles and urgent struggles. The importance of the struggles comes from the structure of the global domination system in which we find ourselves. The urgency depends on the conjunctures that arise at the global, regional or thematic level. The joint for major fights has a different dynamic than the joint for urgent fights. How to distinguish? How to build and maintain alliances from below? How to build strength through pragmatic alliances? How to do it at a global, regional and thematic level?

In 2021, what would be the global actions that could better illustrate the strategic orientations of the WSF?

After several meetings with representatives of different movements and Non – Governmental Organizations from different subject areas and different regions of the world different proposals were articulated. It should be noted that everyone agreed that for the actions and mobilizations these proposals should cover the vast majority of the innovative axes of the WSF, in order to enable the identification of as many organizations as possible at the global level.

On the other hand, there was an inclination to give a certain preference, at least initially, to those actions that are already planned by organizations with a lot of mobilizing capacity.

The following proposals were highlighted:

  1. FOR A UNIVERSAL DISARMAMENT FOR A SOCIO-ENVIRONMENTAL TRANSITION

This proposal was conceived by organizations from different thematic areas, but above all by the Peace and Militarization area, which had already planned a week of mobilization against weapons for the last week of April 2021. It was immediately complemented by the area of ​​fighters against climate change, but also by some very important union organizations.

  1. SOCIAL STRIKE CALLED TO A WORLDWIDE Social strike against inequalities and DISCRIMINATIONs AND THE SELF – DETERMINATION OF peoples:

Unlike the previous proposal, this could have broad support from peasant and indigenous organizations that are currently fighting against transnational mining consortiums and depraved large estates, especially in Latin America and Africa .

Apart from these two proposals, there are some more specific ones that in one way or another could be integrated into these two mentioned above. Such is the case of environmentalists who are campaigning under the slogan: PEACE ON EARTH IS PEACE WITH EARTH. But also the campaign for the CANCELLATION OF UNJUST DEBTS promoted by CADTM and the campaign of the anti-war movement of Eastern Europe under the slogan AGAINST THE NEW COLD WAR could be perfectly integrated into the mobilizations mentioned above.

In general, it was said that mobilizations could also take place at the regional level, such as for example in favor of migrants at the Central American level.  

2. Democratic deliberative processes

A democratic process is needed to guarantee open debate and to maintain the spirit of cooperation and solidarity even in the face of differences.

General orientation:

1. Consensus is not unanimity. There are themes and positions that, because they are very shared, can be privileged, although space and visibility are given to other positions. What is the threshold for qualified majorities and how would those decisions be reached? Democracy can be practiced by many means and not just by voting. What mechanisms of participatory democracy could we imagine? Would it be possible to imagine it at the regional or thematic level? 

2. The WSF will be both an open space for debate and a political subject with a voice in the international arena. This transformation of the WSF involves two new issues: the democratic basis for decision-making and the governing bodies in charge of implementing the decisions. What types of organs? the deliberative assembly? the executive board? the advisory council? 

3. This proposal would start from the central idea of ​​providing the WSF with a structure that allows it to intervene in public affairs as a distinctive entity but with a plural voice. The celebration of diversity and plurality will coexist with the affirmation of distinctive (non-monolithic) political positions. The mix of physical and digital presence will help neutralize the asymmetries and obstacles (financial, visas, etc.) that have negatively affected the global reach of the WSF and its internal democracy.

Possible proposals: the deliberative assembly

1. The first deliberative assembly would have a constitutional mandate. It would deliberate on 1) the constitution of the new governing bodies, 2) the changes necessary to introduce in the Charter of Principles to adapt it to the changes decided.

2. The WSF will meet every two years with a combination of face-to-face and online participation. Each of these meetings will last for four days divided into two periods, each with a duration of two days: the first period as an open space for discussions and debates and the second period as a deliberative assembly. The first two days will be dedicated to debating the main issues of global interest proposed by social movement groups and NGOs. The last two days will be dedicated to deliberating on the main political decisions and guidelines to be implemented on behalf of the WSF in the next two years.

3. At the first deliberative assembly (WSF2022) all participating movements / organizations will be considered full members of the assembly, that is, with the right to vote. In the following assemblies the movements / organizations that participate for the first time will be observers (right to intervene and discuss without the right to vote). They will become full participants in the next assembly, two years later.

Alternatively: all movements / organizations present are always full participants.

4. In each WSF meeting, should up to a quarter of the movements / organizations participating in the assembly belong to the country where the WSF is meeting?

5. Will all the decisions of the first assembly regarding constitutional issues be taken by qualified majority (75% of the votes) ?

6. The new WSF aspires to be a single political subject but with a plural voice. Substantive decisions on local, national or global issues could be of two types: decisions of a single voice and decisions of a plural voice. Single voice decisions are decisions made by qualified majority (75% of the votes). Plural voice decisions are decisions that are made below that threshold. In this case, the WSF will have two voices: majority decision of the WSF (WSF-majority position ) and minority decision of the WSF (WSF- minority position ). Majority decisions in a given assembly can become minority decisions in the next assembly, and vice versa.

7. In the case of decisions of plural voice, the decisions of the majority and the minority would be equally published, although the decisions of the executive board will be guided by the decisions of the majority ?

8. Could the first assembly decide on the criteria for the weighted vote on some or all kinds of decisions?

9. The plural voice of the WSF could also refer to regions or themes ? For example, there may be decisions that are particularly relevant (or detailed) for a particular region of the world. In such a case, the decisions of the WSF would be n decisions of WSFAsia, WSFAmericas, WSFAfrica, WSFEurope, WSFOceania. On the other hand, there may be particularly relevant (or detailed) decisions on specific sectoral issues . In such cases the decisions would be for example. WSFMigrations, WSFPeace, WSFEcology, WSFCities, WSF Indigenous Peoples, WSFWomen, WSFBlacklivesmatter WSFPrisoners, WSF Refugees, and so on.

10. There will be regional and thematic assemblies. Could the deliberations be taken through the contextually most appropriate system, from voting to consensus, rotation or lottery? Only at the level of the World Assembly will vote ed for reasons of efficiency or convenience in view of a large participation and a relatively long c ortho for decision-making?

3. Internal governance .

Central issue: The lack of representativeness of the IC is evident. Who is missing? Given the average age of the participants, it is noticeable that there was no renewal. In recent years, their legitimacy to represent the institutions for which they belong to the IC has not been verified. Did they render accounts? Are some members representing organizations that, in the meantime, disappeared? The majority of the great social movements that animated the early years of the WSF abandoned the process and did not enter the new social movements (especially young people) who have come to resist the new dimensions of domination in the destruction of the rights of work, racial and gender discrimination, and environmental depredation.     

General orientation: a system of internal government of the WSF that guarantees democracy and the effectiveness of decisions . F rom the beginning and there is no internal regulation on the nature and duration or renewal of such mandates;

1. Any organization that guarantees the international presence of the WSF must be legitimately and democratically constituted. Will it be a new IC or another type of organization? Could it be a simple federation among a small number of regional and thematic organizations ? With what kind of mandate? Who will advise technically? How is transparency ensured?  

Proposal one . The executive board ?

1. The assembly will elect an executive board among different lists that will be respecting a triple parity: women and men, equal representation of the regions, equal representation of the main thematic areas?

2. Will there be a two-year term?

3. It will follow and execute the decisions and general guidelines of the assembly. Within this framework and in this spirit, however, will it have broad powers to make decisions on new issues as dictated by the rapidly changing conditions of the world?

4. Each month, the executive board will issue a press release on the activities and decisions of the board’s WSF ?

5. All your meetings will be public. Can they be followed by members of the assembly or advisory council?

6. Will any public appearance of the executive board respect gender parity ?

Proposal 2. The advisory council ?

1. Will the advisory council advise the executive board, either on its own initiative, or at the request of the council or the members of the assembly?

2. Will the opinions of the advisory council be made public on the WSF website ? .

3. Is the advisory council composed of the current members of the IC and, in the future, of the members of the executive council at the end of their mandate ?

Charter of Principles

Will a revision of the charter be necessary?

CONTRADITIONS AND INCONSISTENCIES OF THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM

O.Glez (2020)
 

There is plenty of data to show the polarization that neoliberalism has brought with it and the globality that derives from it: super concentration of wealth in a few hands globally compared to the extension and deepening of poverty throughout the world. Faced with this reality, there are no ambiguities such as those shown in the Porto Alegre Charter, document 

that was appropriate at the time to generate unity and adherence from diverse perspectives. But that role has already done its job. Now the need to revise and redo it without ambiguity is evident. What, among others, are these shortcomings? 

Let us mention some of the main articles of the Charter, in which we can see and expose the inconsistencies and contradictions:  

Article 1. “ The World Social Forum is an open space for meeting to: intensify reflection, carry out a democratic debate of ideas, elaborate proposals, establish a free exchange of experiences and articulate effective actions on the part of the entities and movements of the civil society that oppose neoliberalism and the domination of the world by capital or any form of imperialism ”. How to reflect, debate, propose and articulate actions, without indicating and defining from and with the support of the WSF specific ways to do it? As Arundati Roy has said: “The only way to fight is through specific battles with specific forms.”    

Article 2. ” The Forum becomes a permanent process of search and construction of alternatives.” Building is acting, creating alternatives How, where, when, with whom? Would the rights of the world fit into this effort, when it is against them that we must fight?  

Article 3. “The Forum is a global process and all events held as part of this process will have an international dimension.” Why not encourage and translate into action the decisions of local or national movements that obviously require worldwide diffusion and support, such as that of the WSF?  

Article 6. “ No one will be authorized to express, on behalf of the Forum and in any of its meetings, positions that were attributed to all its participants. Participants should not be called to make decisions, by vote or acclamation – as a group of Forum participants – on declarations or proposals for action that include all or their majority and that are proposed to be decisions of the Forum as such ”. 

Here is one of the most authoritarian and regressive statements. Why if the consensus or the majority decide, no statements or actions can be made on behalf of the Forum as such? That goes against the most elementary rules of a democracy. 

Article 7. “ It must be ensured that the entities participating in the Forum meetings have the freedom to deliberate – during the meetings -. But those declarations and actions that they decide to develop must be done in isolation or in a coordinated way with other participants. How, what use would isolated attempts, without the support of the Forum? Failure to act seems to be the slogan of a tepid, ambiguous and contradictory Letter. 

Article 8. “The Forum is a plural and diversified space, non-denominational, non-governmental and non-partisan, which articulates in a decentralized way and in a network entities and movements that are involved in concrete actions for the construction of a different world . does it mean “articulate in a decentralized way and in networks”? Is it intended to ignore that the vast majority of the participants are involved and committed through civil, social and political organizations in world social change? Do you want us to renounce to achieve alliances and concrete actions from an entity of world power such as the WSF to promote our local, national and global struggles for another possible world? This article directly contradicts Article 1, which speaks of “ articulating effective actions by the entities and movements of civil society that oppose neoliberalism” and imperialism.      

Article 11. “The Forum, as a space for debates, is a movement of ideas that stimulates reflection and the transparent dissemination of the results of this reflection on the mechanisms and instruments of control of capital, on the means and actions of resistance and of overcoming that domain ”. A movement only of ideas and reflections on means of domination of capital? Why, for what, if it does not translate into acts of resistance and counter-power?  

4. Communication policy

– The communication policy must be a crucial piece. As soon as the relevance of the WSF regains, shouldn’t strategic alliances be sought with independent networks and news agencies to provide a solid sounding board for WSF activities and decisions?

Regarding digital communication, we should try not to depend on Internet companies. The UN has its own digital system and could be accessible to the WSF , an attempt should be made in this direction .

  Communication has always been the Cinderella of the World Social Forum. Its members of the CI always considered communication as a professional task that had nothing to do With its political strategy. The result was that the Communication Commission never managed to legitimize the successive plans presented and the WSF never had a communicational Representative to improve overall visibility .   Information and communication   The WSF needs a pol ít ca information and communication. The information field involves sending informative notes, analyzes, comments on the Forum’s topics and its activities, to a universe of journalists who are interested in global issues, so that they can be part of an informative process . That does not exist , because no one can speak on behalf of the WSF , so there can be an informative activity , unless you make of relay automatic to tico of the material received from organizations of the WSF , which has not happened, and without design org anic or becomes dispersed and irrelevant .   But the WSF Also Dramatically needs pol í tical communication. It can not be that the analysis processes forums, with their wealth and experience of reality, are available s or so for the present. Forums have to communicate with all and are unable to be present , and to convey conclusions of debates, documentation, to the forthcoming forum, to enter the forums there is a building process, and are not a series of events. There must be permanent mechanisms of intercommunication between the movements and organizations involved, with clear strategies. This is another activity that needs to be a focal point understanding that information is vertical and professional while communication is horizontal and involves everyone.    It is and seer that none of the two activities has been carried out , and here there is an explanation powerful it or n image of the lack of knowledge and progressive isolation of the WSF worldwide.   Internet  

The Internet network has acquired an undeniable centrality in the lives of human beings. This implies a wide range of devices in the domestic, work and educational sphere, as well as social and political. By using it, we leave a trace of personal and transactional information throughout the network , the precious “data” . All this knowledge is power, which can be used to increase social rights and the democratization of information and communication, or for the exclusive profit of large dominant corporations and social control.

Since the beginning of the Internet, both tendencies have been present, but the network and its components are evolving rapidly towards a scenario of corporate / state surveillance in which a technological digital economic and social model is being imposed and naturalized , which fragments and isolates, undermines the self-determination, undermines democracies and seeks to make invisible and annihilate alternative paradigms for humanity. Not all social groups have equal access to digital technologies, and the unequal dependence of regions is also accentuated, further limiting the political sovereignty of States and their populations. In the construction of subjectivities, data capture made it possible to detect fears and vulnerabilities that implemented mechanisms of hatred and discrimination used to promote coups, dictatorships and xenophobic governments, using fake news and manipulated information.
 

It is the terrain where, to a large extent, the fate of popular resistance is played out and narratives and social models are disputed. This is a crucial fight for our collective future and we face the challenge of reversing this trend. It is urgent that social movements and organizations that fight for social and environmental justice, the democratization of communication, free and open software, net neutrality and the rights of the peoples of the world can interconnect thematic, sectorial struggles and initiatives or local among them and with other regional or global alliances, to jointly identify strategies, public policies and common agendas towards the Internet that we need.

It is urgent to seek technological alternatives to the domain of corporations. In this regard, responses are being investigated in different institutions and global networks that allow progress in this regard. The current WSF Communication WG proposed the creation of a new platform / world social network among the movements and organizations that comprise it, as a new type of collaboration and communication tool on struggles, debates and joint actions of global activism.

The important thing about the alternatives to be built is the defense of freedom of expression, access to popular knowledge and universal knowledge, critical thinking and the promotion of the right to communication of individuals and peoples.

The question of transition to a new (phase of) WSF

How will the transition be processed for the proposed changes?

Proposal 1.

It is not advisable for the transitional body to be composed solely of IC members. For two main reasons. It is essential to bring new blood to the debates and proposals and new perspectives on the current state of international affairs and local struggles.

The IC will appoint a transition council or committee to coordinate and facilitate the debates and the dissemination of the documents that lead to the main reform proposals that will be presented to the assembly that will be convened expressly during WSF2021 with the aim of deciding on the new ones. governance structures of the WSF.

This organ of transition will be composed according to a double parity. A parity of men and women and a parity of members of the current IC and members belonging to those organizations and movements that in recent times have been attending the open meetings called by the IC. This body will be composed of 20 to 30 members.

The transitional body should be a body that combines the old and the new, the experience of the movements / organizations that have been involved in the WSF process and the aspirations of the movements / organizations that in recent times have shown interest in joining. . and strengthening the WSF process.

The transition body will conclude its mandate in the deliberative assembly within the scope of WSF 2022 Mexico .

We expect reasonable and respectful discussions, as well as substantive questions and answers, at the next World Social Forum . If the understandings are directed by consensus, although without unanimity, for the continuation of the WSF as it exists today, this is an option that can prevail and, in this case, all organizations and movements should adopt it.

  This discussion is open to everyone. We have a website where anyone who wants to intervene can do so: https://foranewwsf.org.

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