World Social Forum 2004, Mumbai, 16 – 21 January, 2004
The WSF 2004 process is getting ahead through many international and Indian interactions in various councils, committees and task groups. International Council and its many functional groups met last fortnight to give shape to WSF 2004.
International Council Meeting, Miami, USA, 23–26 June, 2003
The International Council (IC) of the World Social Forum that met in Miami, USA, from 23rd to 26th June 2003 discussed the broad contours of WSF 2004, received reports on regional forums and deliberated on various issues involved in institutionalizing the WSF-IC. The Indian delegation presented a detailed proposal for WSF 2004 in the IC and it generated discussions and suggestions on programme, mobilization, funding, logistics etc. Some of the principal suggestions that came up there include:
Programme: To move forward from WSF 2003, it was felt that the search for alternatives should be widened and deepened and the emphasis shall be on alternatives. It would be helpful if more space and time is dedicated for wrap-ups, elaboration on themes and alternatives. It was suggested that the number of major events held in the morning (9am to 12noon) should be increased as the format presented before the IC would accommodate only 16,000 people against an estimated 75,000 likely participants. The IC strongly felt that there should be a conscious effort to avoid duplications of the topics and themes of the seminars and workshops. It was suggested that the last date for receiving proposals could be in September and that there should be efforts to promote dialogue between the proposers so that they could collaborate in organizing common events.
A meeting between the Indian delegation and the International Secretariat (IS) was held. Members of the IS were unanimous in their opinion that the heads of state should not be invited to address the WSF sessions as it amounts to explicit political statement of the organizers. IS from its experience in the last three WSF sessions feel that something must be done to minimize hierarchy between the conferences/panels and the seminar/workshops. It was felt that it is important to have an international group to assist the programme committee in India and it was identified that the IC committee on Content could work as the same.
Schedule: The overall schedule suggested was as follows: Preparation of initial format announcing the programme shall be on 10 July; Comments from IC Secretariat on format is expected on or before 15 July; Format finalization and announcement would go on 25 July; Last date for receiving programme proposals would be 25 September; IC Content Group meeting along with the Programme Committee shall be held in early October; Consolidation of proposals shall be done by the end of October; Finalisation and Announcement of programme would be done in the first week of November.
Programme co-ordination: It was suggested that Chico Whitaker and Moema from the IS would be responsible for co-ordination issues related to the programme format and methodology with the Programme Committee of WSF-India.
Funding: It is estimated that the WSF 2004 would cost between 2.2 to 2.5 million US dollars. It was felt that the organizations which participate in WSF have a responsibility to support it and it is only proper to create a solidarity fund for long term sustainability and to reduce dependency on institutional funding.
Asian Groups’ meeting: The meeting of Asian groups during the IC meeting in Miami discussed the mobilization strategies and upheld the need to strengthen country-wise mobilization and that for WSF 2004. A proposal to mobilize the Indian Diaspora from all over the world for WSF 2004 was discussed and it was felt that this possibility should be explored further. It was emphasized that better Asian participation in the programme content and methodology should be ensured through the participation of Asian members in the IC committee on content, that would assist the Programme Committee of the WSF 2004.
Meeting on African mobilization: A meeting on African mobilization was held and discussed the possibilities to increase African participation in terms of number, content and diversity. It was felt that the African delegation should reflect the diversity of the continent and that the issues related to it get adequate focus in the events. An effort will be made to ensure participation from all countries and regions of Africa and to mobilize the large Indian Diaspora in Africa.
Human Rights Caucus
The Human Rights Caucus, which is active in the WSF process, had two meetings during the ES-Net conference in Changmai, Thailand and decided to widen its base and reach in WSF 2004. This caucus seeks to mainstream HR perspective as an overarching framework in all the WSF 2004 events. It endeavours to involve in streamlining the seminars and workshops proposed under the theme Exclusions, Dignity and Human Rights and to have a Human Rights tent in WSF 2004.
Mobilization among the International Trade Union Movement
At a recent ILO meeting in Geneva, the IOC member Com. H. Mahadevan could briefly explain the WSF-India process and solicit the participation of all the trade unions present. He also addressed the Greek Social Forum and explained in detail about the WSF 2004. It seems that enthusiasm is generated in the international labour movement regarding the WSF 2004.
Meeting of European and Indian Parliamentarians to discuss and decide upon a Parliamentary Forum concurrent with WSF 2004.
The Functional Groups, India General Council, India Working Committee and India Organizing Committee will have its sessions during 18 to 20 July 2003 at Ranchi, Jharkhand.
Asian Solidarity Group is scheduled to meet in August.
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