First Morning Report of the WSF IC meeting, Rabat, 6 May 2009

Network Institute for Global Democratization is represented in the International Council meeting of the World Social Forum organized right now near Rabat, in Morocco, by Giuseppe Caruso and Teivo Teivainen. These are our very first impressions of the meeting, drafted during the first morning.

Over the past weeks, there were debates about the choice of venue, especially after the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) had expressed its strong criticism of holding the meeting in Morocco. Comparing the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the apartheid regime of South Africa, COSATU announced it would not attend this IC meeting. The organizers and various members of the liaison group of the International Council responded emphaisizing the difference between the Moroccan organizations involved in the WSF process and the Moroccan state.

It would be difficult to estimate what other potential participants, apart from COSATU, decided to boycott the meeting, but in general the level of participation seems quite normal, with most of the usual suspects around. As expected, the meeting has a particularly strong presence of organizations from the Maghreb region. Perhaps more surprisingly, and as far as we can remember for the first time, there are various (well, perhaps three) representatives of a Chinese network, the China NGO Network for International Exchanges.

During the morning sessions of the first day, there was plenty of discussion about the World Social Forum held in Belem in January 2009. Most assessments were positive, and the evaluation criteria were perhaps more explicitly political than before. The participation of the indigenous movements was highlighted by most commentators, pointing to the contribution that they gave not only to issues concerning the indigenous peoples themeselves but also to the civilizational and ecological challenges faced by the humanity. The media impact of the Belem forum waa discussed and it was repeatedly noted that in various parts of the world this forum was more visible than the previous ones, though much remains to be done. The presence of various Latin American heads of state was deemed important, even if within the Forum process there are various differences as regards the extent to which the social movements of the WSF should interact with governments and political parties. The participation of the presidents was organized in such ways that it did not disrupt the other activities of the WSF as significantly as in various previous forums.

Well, these are just simple comments before the first lunch break, more to follow….

Giuseppe and Teivo''