General Summary from Plenary on 24th September

By Claire Courteille and Francine Mestrum

1. Analysis of the Conjuncture:

Several issues were identified as having an impact on the movements and the WSF, among them:

  • Food prices
  • Energy crisis
  • Financial crisis
  • Georgia: West – East confrontation
  • Chinese investments in Africa
  • Elections in the US
  • Migration
  • Construction of new neoliberal and nationalist states
  • Is it the end of capitalism? Neo-liberalism?
  • Heading towards a world of war
  • Social movements being persecuted

A call for flexibility was made so as to integrate those issues as far as possible in the program for Belem. There was consensus on the fact that WSF Belem must fit into the global context.

2. Report of the Working Group dedicated to Guiding Principles (external link)

WSF Guiding Principles -copenhagen 24sept II.doc

The first version of the document was rejected and a new version was presented. A proposal to add gender parity in WSF events was accepted. There was consensus on the fact that the document is "work in progress" and should be updated at the light of other WSF events which will take place. The new version of the document was adopted and is official as of this day. It will be reviewed each year.

3. Report of the working group 2010-2011 (external link)

For 2010

It was proposed to hold again a Global Day of Action which several IC members consider a success. However there was consensus that more consultation are needed to define the format of this GDA.


The IC invites the social movements, networks and organizations to use again in 2010 the tool of the GDA. We commit ourselves to consult and involve them in the definition of the GDA's methodology, date, content, duration and format. Following an assessment of the global situation, of the 2008 GDA and of the thematic and regional forums, a final decision on the format will be taken during the IC meeting of spring 2009. A working-party to prepare the GDA 2010 will start working as of today.

For 2011

A first proposal was rejected. It aimed at making the decision for a WSF in 2011 in Africa conditional to an evaluation to be carried out in the next IC.

A second proposal was equally rejected. It stated: "According to the decision taken in Berlin and Abuja (quote of that decision), we urge African organisations to present in Belem a proposal for a WSF in Africa".

Elements in the discussion:

  • African movements want to see some progress in the decision-making, since Abuja, they have started working on the possible organization of a WSF in Africa in 2011.
  • It is important that the IC sends a positive signal to the African movements and do not de-motivate them in their preparation
  • International solidarity in this matter is crucial and the IC must be able to show solidarity
  • The decision on a WSF in Africa was a kind of counter-part for the decision to have a WSF in 2008 in Belem
  • It is important to respect the evaluation process before taking a final decision.

Consensus emerged on the following wording:

In accordance with the Berlin and Abuja decision Quote: "/The next WSF as a centralized global event after 2009 will take place in Africa (tentatively in 2011 subject to the global situation evaluated by the IC)/ the proposal for the 2011 WSF will be finalized in the next IC in Belem, where the strategy debate will go on. We urge the African movements to make a concrete proposal during the next IC. The liaison committee will prepare the discussion in cooperation with the involved commissions and organizations.

4. Report of the Communication Commission (external link)

The communication group has almost no resources to continue its work. Different projects have been set up, e.g. the Ciranda net, an action for the amazonic regions, a forum for TV/video activists and others.

Yet communication is a political tool. We should come to a self-feeding circuit of mobilization to communication to mobilization.

The wsf site should be used more and better

A world forum of media will be organized pre-Belem (2 days before) with independent media.

There is a worldwide participation crisis that questions the relevance of WSF existence. Communication is a very important political tool that WSF should use.

In order to achieve a more democratic WSF process, some kind of training program related to internet usage should be developed.


The next IC in Belem will have deeper discussion on communication issues

We commit ourselves to give a communication dimension to all our activities in Belem

5. Report of the Expansion Commission (external link) (external link)

- It is important to have the participation of indigenous communities (or primary peoples, autochthonous, originary…) in Belem. This also includes Rom people (gypsies), Adivasi, etc. This is not a matter of folklore, but is a highly political matter.

  • The priority for the geographical expansion of the WSF process should go to Eastern Europe, the Arab region and South-East? Asia. The Arab region will have a meeting in Belem. There is progress already in Asia, particularly Nepal
  • The thematic expansion should be directed at developing better links with movements that work at climate change, youth, etc.
  • The place where IC meetings are held can be an important element in the mobilization of local activists and can be considered to be an investment. Kurds have been asking to organize an IC meeting in Diyarbakir. The Arab region is also proposing to organize an IC meeting.

5.1 new organizations became members of the IC

  • International Drama and Education association (supported by Abong and IPF)
  • Global Commons Foundation (supported by NIGD and Ibase)
  • Alternative International (supported by CRID and Alternative Canada)
  • Helsinki Citizens Assembly (supported by Alternative Canada & Attac France)

_- Indigenous Commission_

  • It is proposed to have a real participation of indigenous groups in WSF and IC, and to have the solidarity fund to take account of it. This participation should be quantitative and qualitative.
  • Indigenous groups should be able to connect with the global resistance movement.
  • Indigenous groups will have a meeting prior to the WSF in Belem
  • The political, cultural and cosmogonist visions of the indigenous groups should be visible at the WSF. Methodologies of these groups can be used next to other methodologies. We have to re-think the WSF from an indigenous perspective.
  • We need a short term and a long term strategic plan in order for the WSF to take into account the indigenous issues
  • We need some kind of map of organizations at the global level in order to better organize their participation
  • As many groups as possible, including Africans and Palestinians, should be included
  • The main point of reference is the respect of the rights of indigenous peoples.

6. Report of the Resources Commission

Rolando's work has stopped and there is in fact a real crisis. Commitments for Belem are still missing. Infrastructure issues for WSF 2009, however, is being taken care of by the local state government .

The budget for WSF Belem is 4,5 million $, only 1,7 million has been committed as of this day. There are negotiations with Petrobras. Some of the donors that might help the WSF are themselves in a financial crisis.


  • It is important to have early registration so that the money can be used, in a first moment, to build the solidarity fund. Organizations are invited to give extra donations when they register for WSF 2009.
  • A working group will look at the solidarity fund and the decisions on the allocation of the funds
  • All commissions will have to cut their budgets. A working-group with the liaison committee and the organizing committee will be created to adjust the global budget and to look at the budget of each commission

In the discussion it is stressed that indigenous groups should have priority in the solidarity fund. Discussions will have to be organized with the different commissions on how budget cuts can be realized.

A link will be put on the WSF site to donate money on line. Everyone is invited to raise funds for the WSF and to use the electronic link.

It is stressed that the question of financial resources is a collective and a political responsibility. In fact, this point should have been the first point on the agenda, since it is not realistic to make plans during three days and to realize on the last day that there is no money.

It is proposed

  • to have a serious discussion on the long term financial sustainability of the WSF and the reasons why our movement is no longer attractive for donors
  • to have a serious discussion on the autonomy of the WSF
  • to define mechanism for the 'Collective responsibility' to become more concrete
  • to adjust our activities to the available budget. We cannot do things for which we have no money.
  • Increase the sense of urgency around our financial crisis
  • An emergency campaign for fundraising should start
  • Volunteers are needed for the resource commission

There was no time to look at the two documents of the resource commission. We will discuss them in Belem as a matter of priority.

7. Report of the Liaison Group (external link)

A short report was given on the *methodology,* the procedures and the calendar for a LG evaluation. A document will be sent around and a discussion will be organized in Belem. All the documents are avaiable at Openfsm. (external link)** (external link)


1) Commmunication commission* (external link)

Comcom report in IC plenary 24th

C - Report of communication commission in Copenhagen IC 24th – Evaluation and report

Towards financial autonomy

It is to be noted that a structured action plan was drafted inside the communication commission before the funding came, and this allowed convincing communication inside the process about the ability and willingness of the commission to work effectively.

Having an autonomous budget made it easier to structure and fine tune the implementation of the action plan work in various decentralized groups.

At the same time this autonomy allowed to be pragmatic IC and flexible in allocating funds to concrete tasks appearing very meaningful although they had not been foreseen in a first moment ( such as assembling a global report). Now the commission has applied for process funding for its core action and is also considering creative schemes to expand its action and make it sustainable.

Outcomes of GDA experience:

Parallel decentralized functioning of 10 working groups

24 press conferences held in the preceding week in January with a common core message

50 interconnections on internet

one website for global action day showing 800 actions in 80 countries and allowing global report 800 pages about them : (external link)

one website for repository of video with 100 documents uploaded : (external link)

one website for general intercommunication on line inside open space of WSF on line to prepare for WSF 2009 : (external link)**

Negative points - Challenges for next period

Not created network of journalists –

Not created for the media

Not able to go beyond GDA

Three months before Belém there are no funds for the process

Our commission contributions to Belém process

A/ supporting other commissions to use spaces in openfsm such as

-a space for discussion around Guiding principles for organising a WSF event (methodology)

-a space for preparation of GDA 2010 (communication – expansion)

-11 spaces for facilitation of contacts between activities aiming in a same objective (methodology)

- 2 spaces for preparation of second day in Belém (methodology)

B / setting up 5 projects preBelém – ciranda – foro de radio amazonico – TV's forum - laboratorio de conhecimento livre – interconnexions space

- a space for networking between those that produce coverage and communication and those that want some information about WSF 2009

C/ Paying attention to the tools

Idea to Set up something for learning ot use during the wsf2009 – communication flow during Belém - permanent process

Invite IC organisations to use more (external link)

Warning ! *There are currently no funds for development and hosting beyond Belém.*

D/ communicating about IC inviting All the activities in WSF to include an action of communication before or after Belém, and we as commission will support this

Virtuous circle between mobilization and communication : mobilize for communication then communicate for wider mobilisation. Connect the voices and proposals coming from the basis

No way to change event into the process without accompaniment in communication.

Our requests towards IC

E/ In the next IC – have a space to debate on communication – as a political tool - Communication debate in Belém

F/ set up a process for preparing next GDA

@ Space GDA 2010 preparation

G/ that media do not pay to enter in Belém space Permanent participation to global WSF open space In order to expand permanent participation to the world social forum process, it is necessary to facilitate access to virtual open space such to as many organisations as possible.

It is also necessary to be partially funding in a sustainable way free software communities politically articulated with WSF.

This digital expansion of the process can be performed through a diversity of local "WSF permanent participation " projects, that may interest donors, with a standard proportion of the fund raised being channelled to free software project providing those strategic intercommunication tools.

Communication commission will circulate a draft project to foster training to use WSF websites, and suggest how to organize them. IC organisations are invited consider using it for local expansion and fundraising initiatives keeping in contact with the commission

Intercommunication beyond distance in an expanding WSF process

A working group of the Commission is supporting development of horizontal inter-communication among all those who participate in the WSF process.

The aim of this effort is to help participants develop in a self organised way links between themselves regardless of distance and sustain intercommunication in the context of a permanent and decentralized process.

Moments of inter-communication through video-conferences, internet-chats and phone calls can be prepared in virtual spaces of, just like you prepare a meeting if you want it to be fruitful. The decentralized modality of participation to WSF 2009 which is called *"Belém expanded*" is an occasion to develop these practices, linking activities in Belém with activities anywhere in around the world, and allowing organized groups to exchange ideas and proposals regardless if they travel to Belém or not.

Communication commission invites organisations in IC to transmit this information to organizations and activists from our different countries and cultures that may want to participate to Belém expanded and to the development of forum social space They are welcomed in the space of (external link) where they can access the space called " Belém expanded" the working group for supporting interconnections with Belem and the intercommunication workgroup.

Invitation by IC to WSF 2009 expanded – "Belém expanded" (external link)

The Global action day of 2008 started a dynamics of activities of various type towards "another possible world" in all the regions of the world, expanding the forum proposal.* *

From this experience, it was assessed that in 2009 decentralized activities linked to the forum event held in Amazonia could also be stimulated. This has the advantage to impulse the mobilization towards Belém, and, at the same time :

  • promote decentralized participation in Belém activities
  • give a higher profile to debates and proposals stemming from these activities
  • favour the assimilation and adaptation of these proposals by organisations and citizens of the world,
  • multiply initiatives of participation in the forum process, at local, national, regional, and thematic levels.

Decentralized activities may or may not create direct connections with activities in the forum in Belém The International Council invites organizations that want to participate in this decentralized way in World Social Forum 2009 to register themselves in the webpage (external link) and indicate there their decision (in the organisation registration form there is an ítem " Belém expanded"). These organisations can then enter in the open space openfsm ( ) and:

Make visible their activities, (also giving links to videos in (external link) )

Interchange, make contacts before, during, and after the event 2009 with activities located in Belém or in other parts of the world, interchange about methods and tools for connection (Space "Belém expanded" in openfsm ) .