Report of the Group 1 of the Strategy Seminar of the WSF IC meeting in Abuja on 1 April 2008

Rapporteurs: Alejandro Bendaña and Teivo Teivainen

  1. Group 1 discussed the five questions by considering the first two questions as related to the overall context of the WSF. The focus was on questions related to the future of the WSF, and the context of world geopolitics and the general process of the movement of movements were referred to when relevant for these questions.
  2. As an example of changed global conditions, the WSF needs to face the implications of the increasing awareness on climate change among the movements. This should be taken into account in the discussion of the periodicity of the movements (below).
  3. The need to think politically about the WSF was connected to the ways in which the movements have been able to politicize spaces of global capitalism. Taking seriously the politicizing spirit that could be seen in many struggles from Chiapas to Seattle and elsewhere should not, however, mean that the WSF should become political in a traditional way. Differences among the movements as regards the kinds of articulations or dialogues the WSF should have with political parties and governments were acknowledged. These differences were not considered to imply a need for changing the Charter of Principles.
  4. The debate on the space and/or action nature of the WSF often boiled down as to what extent the WSF, and in particular the IC, should set some kind of priorities. There is resistance to this, but at the same time there are fundamentals as expressed in the Charter of Principles (war, neoliberalism/capitalism).
  5. There seemed to be consensus that the WSF is a space that has already since its emergence set some priorities, most importantly in its Charter of Principles. It is not simply an undefined space, and it has clear parameters and a Charter. Changes in the world situation, most felt, have not made for a need to change the Charter, although the question of climate change makes this a proposition that the movements should address in the WSF to be held in Belem in 2009.
  6. Most participants seemed to agree that we should (at least for the time being) respect the principle that the WSF as a whole should not set priorities that go beyond the Charter of Principles.
  7. The debate on priorities could be divided into the question of the need for thematic emphases of the WSF events and on the common issues the WSF should or should not set for activities like the Global Day of Action.
  8. On the need to set thematic priorities, it was mentioned that in 2005 the WSF was at its most self-organized moment. After that there has been a perceived need for the organizers (organizing committees, the IC etc) to set at least some thematic priorities to structure the debates in the WSF events.
  9. It was mentioned that the definition of the thematic meetings (in particular the “4th day” in Nairobi) of the WSF events could be more conducive to action and that should not get in the way of more crosscutting inter-movement dialogues.
  10. The Assembly of Social Movements, and similar expressions of the WSF, were mentioned as an example of the possibility to explicitly generate calls for action, without violating the principle that no-one should claim to represent the whole WSF itself.
  11. Some participants felt that the IC had excessively avoided facilitating global actions, or calls for action.
  12. On the Global Day of Action, one question was to what extent there should be emphasis on “fundamental” things such as neoliberalism/capitalism or war to connect the different activities. Some participants seemed to emphasize that need, whereas others preferred more open thematic options for Global Day of Actions.
  13. For example, it was mentioned that in Kenya the fact that no thematic priorities beyond the Other World is Possible theme had been set made it easier for the local movements to organize things related to the concrete political urgencies of their context.
  14. A question was raised about whether the increasing awareness on climate change should imply a need for changes of the fundamental priorities, possible including the Charter of Principles.
  15. On the periodicity question, there seemed to be consensus that the WSF world event should not be organized annually.
  16. Most interventions agreed on the principle of organizing the WSF world event every two years. Climate change was also mentioned as an argument for possibly organizing the WSF world event every third year, as a symbol of avoiding excessive long-distance air travel.
  17. Assuming that the WSF would be organized every two years, there was a general consensus that Global Day of Action, or something similar, could be organized in the other years between the world Forum events.