WSF REPORT BACK

 

GGJ WSF DAKAR DELEGATION REPORT BACK

FRIDAY, MARCH 11th, 10AM PST/ 1PM EST (1.5 hours)

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NOTES FROM THE CALL ARE BELOW:

A tremendous delegation of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) members and staff went to the 10th World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal from February 6-11.  Caravans from all over West and North Africa brought thousands of delegates, with many more coming from southern counties like South Africa and Zimbabwe.  Activists from Egypt and Tunisia inspired with personal stories of their uprisings, and with a call to the rest of the world to support the region’s fights for self-determination at this critical turning point in history.  
 
This energy was present at the center of all the social movement work that took place in Dakar, particularly at the Social Movements Assembly on February 10th. The Social Movement Assembly, organized by GGJ, Via Campesina, World March of Women and other movements brought together more than 3,000 people to represent their collective struggles and affirm the call for two global days of mobilization:  March 20th -- an international day of action in solidarity with African and Arab peoples in their fight for self-determination, whose victories strengthen the struggles of all peoples, and a global day of action against capitalism on the 12th of October, to demand alternatives to the current extractive and exploitative global economic system.

This is just one example of how, in spite of messy logistics, the World Social Forum in Dakar proved to be a critical space for those forces that came ready to advance work already in motion.  Join the call to hear about some of this work and key lessons and advances that GGJ delegation members helped to achieve in Dakar.  These include: developments in climate justice strategy on the road to Durban and Rio +20, challenges and successes in advancing the fight for global migrant rights, the importance of the social movement assembly process and lessons for US-based movement building, and considerations for the future of the world social forum.
 

 

I. Welcome and Introductions:

II. Review of Objectives of Delegation

 Delegation objectives:

1. Anaylzing global state of capitalism

2. Participating in conversations around the Social Forum process

3. Developing Climate Justice Strategy

4. Participating in Opening Ceremony

5. Organized Social Movement Assembly

6. Hosted live stream with Egyptian leader - first hand account of what's happening in Egypt

We took leaders and organizers to forum to deepen analyis on the continent of Africa and to be able to advance our work in terms of the connections we are making.  On call will focus on what is happening globally and how we bring back the challenges and stregnthen our work.

III. State of WSF, Social Movements and Forces in Motion (Michael Leon Guerrero, GGJ)

There is not a forum that goes by that I don't think of this phrase: "The WSF is a beautiful and messy experiment" - Njoki Njehu

Participated in conversations - wrote up notes that folks will have access to.

Distinction between 3 things - Primary global forces - in motion around the world in response to neoliberalism capitalism, Battle in Seattle 1999 - to challenge policies - today we are seeing the results. The people in motion are the global forces.

World Social Forum process - vehicle of Global justice process, how do we define an alternative to a neoliberal agenda from the people's perspective.

Dakar was very important and significant. 3rd WSF convened in Africa. 1st was in Mali, Pakistan, Venezuela, 2nd was in Nairobi, 3rd was in Dakar.  Emphasis is that it be held in the Global South to help strengthen movements.  More social forums convened in Africa than in any other continent. Northern AFrican region - good to know - what we are seeing now is the result of many relationships built over the years of bringing together these movements

4 workshops organized by different folks, Jai Sen - India. All four had a critique of the process. Critiquing if it was a bottom up process, technological, approach, decision making.  Will Copeland was a part of the discussion to discuss USSF. USSF was a good model of bottom up, diverse process.  Also critiquing it from process and structure, what is not working. Important to note, conditions have changed, process has changed. There are different challenges now than there were in 2001.

Raising questions to look at the forum as a mutual space, should we talk about ideology, always been there, but feels sharper and relevant based on current conditions and process.  General notion that we need a process and a vehicle for convergence - WSF process is up for question, general agreement that we need a vehicle, conditions have intensified, need for global coordination is greater.

Want to share analysis that was laid out on paper on Global Justice Forces/Movement.  3 phases - 1st:  World Bank, WTO G8 - mass movements around the world. Victories were won by GJ movements - stalling WTO to go into Negotiations, stoppint FTAA. New left of center bloq gov't in Latin America.all the issues became part of GJ struggles, climateStill provided a space where all these groups can come together and talk about the movementsNew forces have emerged in the last few years, in North Africa, Midwest US, gov't are participating in GJ movement process at different levels.

Shaping a new GJ mov't. Challenge is whether the leadership can be integrated. Emergence of Indigenous forces that are leading issues like Climate.  In evaluating - WSF logistically was a nightmare. Only because of existing relathiopns developed over the last 10 years, these groups were able to come up with an agenda. 

Mubarak stepped down while our delegation was at the WSF - it was an important moment for GJ movement/forces in the world. IC convenes in May, alot of proposals and debate on what goes on from here.Great delegation from GGJ and the US in general.

Social Forum Tracks: Advancements and Obstacles       

CJ: From Cancun to Durban, lesson learned (Jihan Gearon, IEN)

CJ team members included: Jihan Gearon and Tom Goldtooth of IEN, Daniel KIm of LCSC, Jose Bravo from JTA, and Nikke Alex of BMWC

There was no shortage of work to do: attended various workshops; participated and led CJ focused assemblies; and set up smaller strategic meetings with folks like "Durban 17" Organizing Committee, Pablo Salon and Bolivian government reps, media teams from Durban to start laying out media strategy on the road to Durban.

Outcomes are summarized in "Climate Justice Statement of Unity", which came out of PMA co-sponsored by IEN, GGJ, and others. We brought a lot of orgs together to provide summaries of CJ work throughout the week, and pick out key issues and strategies and calendar items around climate on the road to durban. Jihan wrote the first draft and other key orgs orgs are now looking through and editing it: La Via Campesina, Durban17, Friends of the Earth International, Jubilee South and drafting committee.

Statement of Unity key positions  reaffirm Cochabamba agreement and rejection of Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreements.

Statement of Unity key political issue for climate justice movements: 1) emerging green markets: push to privatize and marketize  natural resources like forests, water, biodiveristy, etc. by UN  system and international companies. It's a key issue to combat this  language of the green market, and part of that is REDD.  2) REDDs: REDDs is the first step toward the larger green markets that are being created -- it opens the door for other offsets like water and other, so rejection of REDD is key. 3) Food sovereignty and ability of farmers to grow their own food.4) Climate finance: a lot of money actually goes to destruction. 5) To be clear, there are things missing such as development of just transition/local economies, combating fossil fuel developoment and false solutions like nuclear power, etc.

This doesn't include everything, these are the key things that were pulled out from the groups that were there and the statement of unity will be just a starting point on the road to Durban.

Statement of Unity Key Strategies:1) Loudest message was around the need for unity on the road to South Africa: lesson learned from Cancun is that we need unity, it was not productive to have a separate space for LVC, Espacio Mexicano, and a separate ClimaForum space. As a climate justice movement we saw that as something that needs to not happen again. Durban17 committee exists to help alleviate that problem.  2) Capacity building and education: policies are very complicated, so the understanding of the international debates need to be lifted up. 3) Specified targets like World Bank were lifted up.  4) Connection between key meetings to ensure ongoing strategies at  COP17 in Durban to Rio +20, etc. 5) There will be a 1,000 Durbans similar to the 1,000 Cancuns action.  6) Climate justice tribunals leading up to major CJ tribunal in Durban - a strategy from Cochabamba.  7) Need to focus on Africa.

Statement of Unity calendar items: There are many dates to look at, we will send out a calendar.  Key dates: October 12th is indigenous peoples day and global day against capitalism; November 28-December 8: Durban COP and 1,000 Durbans day of action; etc.

My overall observations: Success of IEN and GGJ -- in Dakar there was no debate around REDD in contrast to Cancun.  There was hardly any debate in Dakar on this, we credit our work on that.  

There is more work to be done to consolidate international climate justice movement building. There are very clear strategies, targets, moments of convergence, etc. for the international climate policy work at UN level. But there is not yet that clarity around building the climate justice movement.  Durban is fighting coal and fracking specifically and they are interested in engaging on community-to-community level with folks facing those issues in the US too. THERE IS MORE! But I will stop there.       

Global Migration and Pan African Network: (Colin Rajah, NNIRR)               

NNIRR - wrote an analysis:  http://www.migrantdiaries.blogspot.com

Many different workshops, events, assemblies related to migrant rights & migration. 3 assemblies related to migration, migrant rights.       

Focus on 2 key events: World Assembly of Migrants (WA) & World Charter of Migrants - Charter initiated about 5 years ago in France because of police repression to protect the rights of Migrants. Proposed to WSF of Migration in Spain 2006 - people were gathering around it and proposed a World Assembly of Migrants which took place at WSF 2011.

WA was held in Goree, 2 days before WSF. Important momentum and intentions were good, but not in form of a world assembly and charter -- only about 100 people there, 99% were from West/North Africa and Francophone folks from Europe. Domination of the discussion was specific to those regions. No representation from Asia, 1 person from Latin America, 3 people from US. Discussions did not reflect what the other regions represent. Side-stepped issues of sexuality, rights of indigenous peoples, gender balance, race etc. Organizers pushed back on that saying that we were 1 human race. Found disturbing, but still recognized intent. As a something called the World Assembly it did not represent a world initiative.  In spite of this, WA got alot of coverage in WSF Media, proclomation was adopted in WSF assembly etc.       

Pan African Network for the Defense of Migrant Rights - launched last year but a process in the making since 2008.  Its a network of African voices -- African migrants in other regions, and organizations in Africa working on migrants rights, migrants deported back to Africa etc. Met on last 2 days of WSF. To contrast with WA - it got no play throught the WSF. But this network is critical to movement building around migrant rights in the region.

Social Movement Assembly and Global Days of Action (Jen Soriano, GGJ)   

Social Movement Assembly process is another space where pre-existing relationships had a chance to move forward.  SMA is actually a parallel process to WSF.  WSF is not meant to provide a specific direction or agreements to action, in contrast SMA is meant to bring together existing gropus with campaigns to be able to identify collective agendas and action for moving forward.  USSF People's Movement Assembly process is similar, there are many differences in process but they are similar in purpose.   

Historically many important things have come out of this process, including 2003 worldwide protest against war on Iraq came out of the 2002 SMA call to action.    

In Dakar: groups like GGJ played a big role, particularly Cindy, together with World March of Women, La Via Campesina, Centro de MLK from Cuba, Coalition for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM), ATTAC (they fight against neoliberal economic globalization). These groups along with many others came together to develop joint statement and call to action.    

Assembly was one of the most inspiring things: it was a place to really feel the power and convergence on a global scale: different parts of the world, Africa, Europe, Asia, some parts of Latin America; came together around this joint statement, around a common vision for decolonization and sovereignty, peace and democracy but also specifically around a common agenda of abolition of debt, resistance to capitalist commodification, opposition to violence against women.  Powerful to see so many people converging action moving forward.   

Days of Action: March 20--GGJ wants to do a call about the complexities in the uprisings and root causes of struggles in North Africa, potential parallels with economic and democracy issues here in US - cuts to public sector, threats to collective bargaining, erosion of democratic rights    October 12 (international day of action for alternatives to capitalism): working to build US participation in this day of action, key opoprtunity to build relationships with orgs that are part of the SMA process and to unite our different campaigns under a larger framework   

SMA process overall: it's in a similar state that MLG described for the WSF. Questions of who is involved, in some ways PMA process of the US Social Forum has moved further in terms of integration with the broader USSF. GGJ continues to be part of it, seeing how we can help integrate new leadership and also make it more relevant to our member groups.     Stay tuned for more info on the international days of action!       

Deep dialogue about what to do given the deep crisis around the world. Given that we had a delegation, what does it mean for our work here?

What does all mean for GGJ and our work here in the US? (Daniel Kim, LCSC)    Spent all of my time with the CJ team, want to add a few points to what Jihan said.

One: Bolivia is attempting to lead this convergence of social movements and even govts around program and tactics - raises questions for GGJ and GWB group to consider. 

There is more detail on blogs:    Rio+20 and the rush to sell nature's invisible labor http://www.thestrategycenter.org/node/5491/

At WSF Dakar, Ambassador Solon, Bolivians outreach to build climate justice movement for COP17 Durban and Rio+20 http://www.thestrategycenter.org/node/5490/  

Raising possibility of focusing demands on emissions targets and rejection of market mechanisms, also raised question of coordinating new tactics beyond street & media pressure.  They also led with proposal for Climate Tribunals. One thing they raise to gain from movement discussions is in order to create adequate leverage in addition to street pressure, what tactics can move the govts in negotations? Are climate tribunals (an idea from Cochabamba) a good potential forum to engage our base around the world, bring forwrad each community's impacts and damages from ongoing and coming climate change, and create another point of leverage on govts and the negotiation process?   

Another big point was something that Bolivians and Tom from IEN helped understand: climate agenda is linked to but separate from a whole economic agenda to replace sustainable dev with green capitalism--big implications for "poverty eradication." They are using UNFCCC to figure out not just how to deal with climate but how to marketize all natural commodities and services within a green capitalism model.   

Lessons for Dakar back home:  How to deepen experience for our own organizations?  I had this tremendous transformative individual experiecne, but I came back feeling like sometimes its hard to talk about with folks back home, not every one is up to speed. Even inside our own organization, there is unevenness between parts of us who see that we are part of "GJ movement" and parts of us who don't and are more what Michael called "GJ forces," so how much do we as LCSC see ourselves as part of a [michael's distinction] self-consciously "global justice movement" vs. just working as a  "global justice force" against the policies and impacts. 

There is a perception sometimes that "that person went away to Africa and they came back inspired but we wish they had stayed to help with all the work on our campaign." How do we work to overcome this disconnect and build a deeper integration into all our work? 

At LCSC we have been challenging that disconnect by diversifying who we send on these delegations and building a caucus, critical mass and working on internal consolidation from there. Did a teach-in for the first time about Cancun, Interalliance social movements meetings, me from Dakar: all our folks who we sent out on delegations/mobilizations over past 2 years could sum up their report backs to the organizations to create a more common consciousness and understanding of connections to international work.   

Also, struck by understanding that being part of GGJ means that we are not just observers or passive attendees, not just there to get exposure, but we as ggj are actually among the world organizations in the world global justice movement that is seen increasingly as playing an organizing, leadership role. Seeing Cindy and Michael helping to even shape the social movement declaration that was the voice of the thousands of orgs that were there, or to see Jihan and Tom lead the prepping of the CJ statement. 

GGJ has built the relationships to be seen in this role and its such an achievement -- to be recognized this way and have the relationships to play that kind of an organizing role, it's such an honor to be a member of an organization that is part of an alliance like this. All this raises followup questions about how ggj will choose to develop this role, focus it, etc.   

Questions and Discussion

There are many other groups that were at the WSF who are on the call and weren't with our delegation.

Wendy from Detroit: 1. How did people feel, heard through the grapevine that the 50,000 that were there were 80% french speaking. Was that true? How did the language thing play out for English speakers?  2. Went to a live climate justice meeting in auditorium, and it didn't seem to have much African participation. Was there a good mix between African participation and the rest of the world?

Jihan: CJ question... In the things I participated in, I didn't go to the one you mention, but at least in what we participated in, there was definitely participation from different African organizations. They have been present in Cancun and at UN meetings, we have relationships with people from Africa, but it has been inconsistent in larger process. That's why one of the strategies came out to build participation in Africa -- region of Africa has not been able to partitpate in climate negotiations as much as other regions.  CJ track there were a lot of folks particularly moving toward Durban there was a push to make sure they were involved.

Jen: Language question... From having done a scan of the whole opening march and a handful of interviews with delegations that were part of the march, there was a very large participation from former-french african colonies, obviously Senegal, Birkina Fassou, Congo Mali the 80% estimate seems correct. There were also a lot of french speakers from europe and from quebec.  There were a lot of places that were lacking translation but luckily we had Daniel.

Michael: Agree, that does sound about right. It was a large mobilization from throughout Africa, caravans from many parts of the continent. Logistics was pretty broken, its even hard to get an estimate of who all registered. There was a large delegation of interpreters who came from all over the world and many times they were just looking for where to go, so that made it hard for the groups in africa to participate.  If it was your first social forum, it was going to be hard to participate -- same as in other social forums. There were a lot of university students there, but the university didn't adjust the schedule so they could participate.  There were many folks who were organizing and prepping for Durban.

Mark Randazzo Funders Network on Transforming the Global Economy (FNTG) -- participation of francophone North Africans... that's pretty common. When it was in Brazil large majority speaking spanish; in Mumbai a lot of people there from India, it makes sense.  In terms of CJ: whether its on climate or Rio20 or G20 there were some but very few African participation.  African Biodiversity Network and Pan African Climate Justice Alliance. One of their goals is not only to support work in Durban but also to support work in key countries in Africa to make sure women's groups and youth groups are putting pressure on their governments. They had more of a development focus dealing with local struggles, but attempts to get them more engaged toward durban will be important.

Sarah Christensen, Solidago Foundation/ FNTG -- appreciation for how you set up this call it brought out what was successful but also challenging and complex.  Talk more about the coordination efforts and where you see that part of the process moving forward.  

Michael -- people felt it was significant politically but also pulled out challenges and limitations and logistical problems.   

Cindy -- Was able to be there for both days of the IC meeting, there was a real big question about the vehicle for the forum. As we see the impacts on the local host committee, all the issues that we witnessed, but also a question around deeper political covnersations and momentum built -- those happened despite logistical stuff. There aren't other vehicles that exist for this type of convergence, the only thing that comes close is what happened in Cochabamba. But for SMA and IC the question of what does the WSF need to develop in terms of developing the alternative -- addressing the multiple crises... if the WSF hasn't addressed some of those questions, what has it been able to address and what has it not? The regional forums have had greater participation so that's one option.  Another conversation was about taking the WSF to the Global North, and there are proposals to host WSF 2013 in Montreal or Europe. That was a huge debate. There are some forces in the IC to bring this struggle to where neoliberalism lives. Many of us spoke out about the characteristics of the forum -- 60% participants come from the region, so that would really change the character at this moment of resistance and revolt that we see everywhere.

Will Copeland - EMEAC -- One of the presenters mentioned the Social Forum as open space, and the prevalence of the SMA as a parallel structure. It seems to me from WSF that open space was highlighted and emphasized to almost too extreme of a degree -- besides the SMA there were no keynote speeches, no major panels, major events which could be used to galvanize people, highlight specific issues, with Egypt and other things going on they could have been used to draw people in. With this social forum, it was almost completely open space and self-organized. Can you talk about that shift?  In my previous social forum experience, it was not completely reliant on self-organized activities like this one.

Michael -- it's still a debate, and it was handled inconsistently. Many folks were saying we missed an opportunity - since 2006 there weren't plenary sessions organized by the forum. Nobody could give a framing overall to the process. Also issues about Evo Morales who was asked to speak at the opening march. The decision making isn't clear and its confusing.

Mark -- there was also breakdown between local organziing committee and program committee of IC - decisions got made locally with not much communication with IC - there is an eval process set up which will be ready for the next IC meeting.  Yes generally people felt there was a missed opportunity especially around collective space to talk about Egypt and TunisiaWendy, Detroit - they gave up on idea of a program - spaces were filled with students studying was not a possibility to ask students to leave their own classrooms - but if they had published something that had people's names and cells would have helped.  Otherwise if you weren't hooked into a group there was no way to get to sessions unless they were held out in the open and easy to find

Wrap Up and Next Steps for GGJ and Social Forum process(Cindy Wiesner, GGJ)

We will be doing work to mobilize for october 12- we will be doing an educational call around March 20 on middle east and north african revolutions- process of building another world is challenging but necessary, thank you everyone for being on the call

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