Preparing international seminar in Tunis: Methodology

Contribution of Boaventua de Sousa Santos:


In Tunis, a transitional figure is set up with an equal number of members of the International Committee and new admissions. This body will exist until the first deliberative assembly meets. This transitional form is preparing the next World Social Forum (WSF) in accordance with the following proposal (decided in Tunis) which aims to transform the WSF into a global political subject with action in its own name.

1. The WSF meets from here on out virtually or in person in two moments with the same duration (two days for each moment): conversation and debate round; and deliberative assembly. The first moment is intended to discuss the issues about what should be decided in the second moment

2. The first assembly is the set of organizations that are registered and that are accepted by the transitional organ. In the subsequent assemblies the participation of the organizations will have two phases: two years as participants-observers, and then, as participants-deliberative.

3.  Governance shall consist of two bodies: an advisory/consultative board and an executive board. The two must be gender equal. The executive must have representation from all continents. It is the member of the advisory board who was previously on the executive board.

4. The Executive Board shall have a term of office of two years which is partially renewed if parity is respected. The council elects on a rotating basis annually two directors, a man, and a woman, who will assume the coordination of the WSF and speak on behalf of the WSF.

Democratic deliberation

5. To be a global political subject, the WSF must be able to take positions that are binding on the movements/associations that make it up. The WSF must look to be known as a global political subject that, unlike others, is distinguished by democratic experimentation. The two key principles are: discussion as broad as possible within time limits and according to the rules previously agreed to; deliberation with respect for the diversity and autonomy of positions. On the strategic issues that guide the political action of the WSF as a global political subject, only the assembly will be able to decide.

Consensus is looked for, but it is not possible to wait for it to act because the urgency of the interventions does not or always allow it. The WSF does not necessarily have a single voice. It can have two voices, one of them being the majority that is the one that binds the executive council. The important thing is to know that the WSF combines qualified majority decisions with respect for diversity and minority positions.

Decisions are by qualified majority (terms to be defined). But minority positions standing for more than 5% of the participants in the assembly, despite not interfering with the work of the executive council, will be publicized with the full emphasis on the pedagogy of diversity and route of possible changes in the future.

6. In each assembly one third of those who take part must be from the country where the WSF is organized.

7. WSF decisions can be segmented by continent or by theme. Example: the WSF-Migrations decides, the WSF-Africa decides, the WSF-Women decides, the WSF-Indigenous decides, etc.

8. National WSFs may adopt and experiment with other types of democratic deliberation.

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