WSF Contacts:

Website: www.forumsocialmundial.org.br

E-mail: fsmcaracas@forosocialamericas.org
consejo@forosocialamericas.org

Correo:
FSA - Secretaria Operativa
Baquerizo 166 y Tamayo
Quito, Ecuador


Charter of Principles

22.08.2002

Note from the Organizing Committee on the principles that guide the WSF

The World Social Forum (WSF) 2002 achieved major political impact, sparking wide-ranging debate to assess the event, which can be followed at our website. Nonetheless, we feel we should reiterate that the WSF is organized on the basis of the Charter of Principles approved by the International Council on 10th July, 2001.

Amongst the points of the Charter of Principles, we would like to recall the following:

a) The WSF defines itself as an "open meeting place" (point 1), one which is "plural, diversified, non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party" (point 8).

b) The WSF delimits itself politically as a space "of groups and movements of civil society opposed to neoliberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism" (point 1). Its proposals "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" (point 4).

c) WSF events are non-deliberative for the WSF as a body. This point of method is frequently misunderstood, and requires special note: the WSF "does not constitute a locus of power to be disputed by the participants in its meetings" and no one will be "authorized, on behalf of (…) the Forum, to express positions claiming to be those of all its participants. The participants (…) shall not be called on to take decisions as a body, whether by vote or acclamation" (point 6). Nonetheless, "organizations or groups of organizations that participate in the Forums meetings are assured the right (…) to deliberate on declarations or actions they may decide on", which the Forum will disseminate widely (point 7).

d) "The WSF will always be a forum open to pluralism and to diversity of activities and ways of engaging" (point 9), which is a source of wealth and strength in the movement for another world. The Forum will coexist with contradictions and will always be marked by conflicting opinions among the organizations and movements whose positions lie within the bounds of its Charter of Principles.

e) The WSF is open to all and does not operate on the basis of invitations. It arranges the conditions necessary for all those interested in promoting their activities to be able to do so, under whatever name (workshops, seminars, meetings, forums, etc). The only activities organized at WSF 2002, on the collective responsibility of the Organizing Committee and the International Council, were 27 conferences (whose participants were chosen jointly with the facilitators) and testimonies from 15 personalities. No group or organization whose profile conforms to WSF principles has been or will be denied the right to participate in WSF events.

f) The World Parliamentary Forum and the Forum of Local Authorities dialogue with the WSF and its participants, but were organized as autonomous events with the same status as the other seminars, the first by a Parliamentary Commission and the second by the Porto Alegre City Government, not by the Organizing Committee and by the International Council. The WSF "brings together and interlinks only organizations and movements of civil society from all the countries in the world" (point 5) and "party representations or military organizations shall not participate in the Forum" (point 9). This does not mean, "that government leaders and parliamentarians who abide by this Charter cannot be invited to participate, in a personal capacity" (point 9). This year, however, the Organizing Committee did not invite any heads of leaders or parliamentarians to the World Social Forum.

São Paulo, 7th March

Brazilian Organizing Committee

English text by volunteer translators Helena El Masri and Peter Lenny


World Social Forum... As seen from the Outside

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The World Social Forum (WSF) is an annual meeting held by left wing members of the alternative globalization movement to coordinate world campaigns, share and refine organizing strategies, and inform each other about movements from around the world and their issues. It tends to meet in January when its "great capitalist rival", the World Economic Forum is meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The first WSF was held from 25 January to 30 January 2001 in Porto Alegre, organized by many groups involved in the alternative globalization movement, including the French Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC). The WSF was sponsored, in part, by the Porto Alegre government, led by Brazilian Worker's Party (PT). The town was experimenting with an innovative model for the local government which combined the traditional representative institutions with the participation of open assemblies of the people. 12,000 people attended from around the world. At the time, Brasil was also in a moment of transformation that later would lead to the electoral victory of the PT candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The second WSF, also held in Porto Alegre from 31 January to 5 February 2002, had over 12,000 official delegates representing people from 123 countries, 60,000 attendees, 652 workshops, and 27 talks. One famous speaker was famed American author and self-proclaimed dissident Noam Chomsky.

The third WSF was again held in Porto Alegre, in January 2003. There were many parallel workshops, including, for example the Life After Capitalism workshop, which proposed focussed discussion on non-communist, non-capitalist, participative possibilities for different aspects of social, political, economic, communication structures [1] (http://www.zmag.org/lacsite.htm).

The fourth WSF was held in Mumbai, India, from 16-21 January 2004. The attendance was expected to be 75,000 and it shot over by thousands. The cultural diversity was one notable aspect of the forum. The other notable decision that was taken was the stand on Free Software. One of the key speakers at the WSF 2004 was Joseph Stiglitz.

The fifth World Social Forum for 2005 was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil between 26 January-31. A number of participants in the forum released the Porto Alegre Manifesto.

In 2006 the forum will be held simultaneously in different cities around the world.

The WSF has prompted the organising of many regional social forums, including the European Social Forum, the Asian Social Forum and the Boston Social Forum. All social forums adhere to the Charter of Principles drawn up by the World Social Forum.

Criticisms

The WSF has been criticised, particularly by socialist and communist left parties, for producing few practical ideas, concentrating instead on general and vague criticisms of neoliberalism and imperialism. On the other hand some, particularly anarchists, have criticised the WSF for attempting to act as a central decision making location for dissident groups, as the Communist Internationals once did.

The WSF is also subject to the same criticisms as the anti/alternative globalisation movements, namely that the globalisation and capitalism they oppose are inevitable. WSF participants have responded that this idea of the 'inevitability' of globalisation is simply an ideological myth, hence their embrace of the slogan, 'Another World is Possible'.

Right-wing opponents of the current global order have criticised the supposed pluralism of the WSF, as it only includes movements on the left (from social democrats to anarchists and ultra-leftists).

Some activities by activists attending the WSF have also been criticised, such as in the WSF 2001, where activists invaded and destroyed a plantation of experimental transgenics of the Monsanto enterprise.