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The Bamako World Social Forum

Polycentric World Social Forum Bamako, Mali, 18-23 January, 2005

Sunday 27 November 2005

Africa has had the privilege to host the Polycentric Social Forum on its soil, in Bamako, in Mali, in January 2006, at the same period as the Forums to be held in Venezuela and Pakistan.

This event will be of major importance for the African peoples. It will give them an unprecedented opportunity to express themselves democratically and collectively, free from the political and institutional constraints imposed upon them by the great powers and the International Financial Institutions.

The Social Forum to be held in Africa also provides social movements an opportunity to better combine their struggles with those on other continents, against a common enemy: ruthless capitalism, the hegemony, domination and exploitation of peoples and their resources.

Since the major wave of worldwide resistance, in the 90s, the Bamako Forum will be the first opportunity given to forces of progress in Africa, to markedly and visibly root their struggles and alternatives in the global quest for a fairer world, respectful of peoples’ sovereignty.

Africa: Victim of a discourse but source of reconstruction and real progress for the world

Africa is the most vulnerable part of the planet. It already conveys the image of what a world dominated by ruthless capitalism and an uncontrolled plundering of resources will look like, tomorrow. The breakdown of social link brought about by policies implemented for over 25 years on the continent, gives other peoples of the world an indication of the outcome of conquering neo-liberalism.

As the first victim of the expansion of the capitalistic model for centuries, Africa continues to suffer from a discourse that condemns and marginalises it and finally justifies the unacceptable. Past and present combine forces to turn Africa into the Continent most hardly hit by the current rules of the prevailing economic and political order.

The World Forum in Africa will provide the forces of progress with an opportunity to show another face of the African peoples: peoples resisting, inventing their lives and preserving social links, peoples fighting against policies and models that have been imposed upon them and have been excluding them. Everyday, they demonstrate their rejection of programmed and structural marginalisation.

The World Forum in Africa will reveal the most dynamic, vital and progressive aspects in African societies, through the massive presence of organisations and social movements from various regions, which support struggles on a daily basis and will express in their own way that another world is possible.

Mali, a place for unity and human dignity

Mali is poor, if wealth is to be measured through the availability of material goods. But Mali is rich through its history and the role it has played to unite peoples throughout the continent. Since their accession to independence, the Malian people have chosen unity: they have been part of the first Federation of peoples in West Africa. From as early as the 60s, Mali has contributed to strengthening forces of progress on the continent: it was part of the first coalition which fought neo-colonialism through its representatives in the Casablanca Group.

The Malian people have been able to show the world that democracy is neither acquired as a “turn-key” factory, nor artificially imposed by International Financial Institutions. In this country, it has been won by the people themselves, through their struggle against dictatorship, which gives their current institutions further credit and representation.

This country will give other global social movements, and particularly those of the South, its own example of dignity, in the face of both the neo-colonialism of financial institutions and the weight of unfair international rules.

The World Forum in Africa: a link between the peoples of the South for Another World

The city of Bamako, the capital of Mali, will be the ideal site to host the World Forum. It will also be the ideal site to commit, once again, to the reinforcement of forces of progress in the world, and particularly the South, fifty years after Bandung.

The massive, coordinated expression of the Forums in Bamako, Caracas and Karachi will build a real force to engage a reflection on the way and means to counter, through converging struggles, world militarization and the economic and political hegemony of rich countries, and will also suggest supportive alternatives for a common world.

The Bamako Forum will start its work with a one-day reflection on the need for rebuilding the South Front, in solidarity with forces of progress from other parts of the world. Social movements and intellectuals from all continents will participate in this one-day endeavour.

The Bamako Forum: A World Forum in Africa

The themes to be addressed in Bamako are not specific to the African Continent, but are formulated globally. Even though they will be addressed with particular sensitivity, they arise from the need for common struggle and dialogue between social movements throughout the whole world.

The Forum’s major discussion themes are stated below. They overlap the themes selected for the Polycentric Forums hosted in Caracas and Karachi.

1 – War and militarization, security and peace: Economic war; militarization of international relations; military occupation of territories and peoples; spread of conflicts, military violence and resource misappropriation; criminalisation of social struggles, instrumentalisation of violence, the “war of civilizations”, as a smoke screen for cultural and economic hegemony and a justification for war : violence and access to power and resources.

2. Global Liberalism: apartheid on a worldwide scale and impoverishment; concentration of powers, knowledge and resources and exclusion of the many; warranted and organised social injustice; exclusion and impoverishment as the engine of capitalism; marketisation and exclusion of social services; apartheid with an urban face: impoverishment and exclusion of the masses from services and employment; movement of capital and goods/closed doors for people; extension of rich country borders into poor countries or prevention against human beings; migrations and development; migrations and human rights; rights of migrants and aggressive nationalisms; marginalisation of the African continent and marginalisation of its peoples, violation of its rights to development and its sovereignty; violation of economic, social and cultural rights; economic and racial segregations; the issue of reparations; North-South asymmetry and peoples sovereignty.

3- Aggressions against peasant societies: peasant knowledge denigration; threats on peasant agriculture and agricultural systems; seed privatisation and GMO invasion; private land ownership: a threat to social peace, and peasant land deprivation; rural impoverishment; denial of food sovereignty and dependence; loss of food models; food assistance to serve market expansion for rich countries.

4 – Alliance-building between Patriarchy and neo-liberalism and marginalising women struggles: patriarchy; violence and exclusion; religions, patriarchy of domination; violation of women’s rights and citizenship; exclusion from access to resources, land and inputs; women’s struggles for dignity.

5 – Culture, the medias and communication: critique and reconstruction

 Diversity and life in common; protecting cultural rights and minorities; cultural identities; multiculturalism; cultural hegemony and domination; folklorisation of culture; cultural impoverishment.

 Medias, communication and standardization of the minds and world views; marketisation of medias, communication and culture; medias, mass communication and symbolic violence; rights to communication and expression; new information technologies to serve communication for all or to serve control and the market.

6 – Destruction of ecosystems, biological diversity and resource control; Privatisation of resources and the living, loss of biodiversity, desertification deforestation, struggle for access to resources and plundering, natural resources and wars, intellectual property and privatisation of knowledge and technologies; Resources for life : water, land, seeds and energy.

7 – The International order: The United Nations faced with the hegemony of great powers; why and how should the United Nations be reformed? The future for the United Nations Charter; privatisation of International law; asymmetric law; International Financial Institutions and neo-colonialism; solidarity and cooperation : equality or reproduction of inequalities ? Peoples sovereignty and international law; What scope for southern alliances? How to rebuild the southern front?

8 – International trade, debt and economic and social policies: debt cancellation; reparations; structural adjustment policies; the WTO and the marketisation of the world; multilateral trade agreements; free trade agreements.

9 – Social struggles, social and human rights, social organisations and political rights; impoverishment, exclusion; debilitation; social inequities; labour and gender exploitation; rights of children; human trafficking; degradation of human dignity; political and social repression and oppression; education and reproduction of capitalistic norms; alternative education; right to life, health; social and supportive economy; alternative social experiences; social struggles for justice; struggles for freedom and democracy, against political oppression; the role of the State and social organisations; rebuilding trade-unionism and incorporating vulnerable social actors; young people’s struggles; institutions and democracy; World Social Forum processes in the construction of Alternatives.

10 – Alternatives: Conditions for social progress, democratic advances and the rehabilitation of peoples’ sovereignty.

Methodologies and Sites:

The Bamako Polycentric Forum will be organised so as to include all the organisations of the African and world Social Movement and Civil Society that adhere to the Charter and principles of the World Social Forum.

The area of the Forum will be decentralized to allow activities to be carried out in different sites in Bamako, closer to the population.

January 18th will be earmarked for an International Day of reflection devoted to the theme “Rebuilding the South front, fifty years after Bandung” and to the common struggle of people from the South and the North against imperialism. This event will be organised by Forum pour l’Autre Mali, Forum du Tiers Monde, Forum Mondial des Alternatives and ENDA Tiers-Monde.

1 – Conferences and round-tables will focus on 10 identified themes. Each panel will consist of activists of the social movement and intellectuals from Africa and the rest of the world.

2 – Movements will be called upon to arrange activities in various fields, according to their area of focus. The activities will be self-arranged, but will be provided the required site and infrastructure.

3 – Women and youth will be provided special sites to build up their own social area.

4 – On 23rd January, communication will be established with the Caracas and Karachi Forums to bring into convergence the struggles of the movements involved.

5 – A site devoted to the medias and communication will be set up, together with Internet and broadcasting facilities.

6 – Sites within the area of the Forum and in the city of Bamako will be devoted to cultural events, with exhibits, theatrical and music shows.

7 – Marches will be organised to popularize alternatives, widely involving the population to allow it to formulate its own hopes.

Organisation of the Polycentric Social Forum in Bamako:

As an outcome of a national, African and global endeavour, the Bamako Forum is organised by the Comité d’organisation malien et the Conseil du Forum Social Africain, under the aegis of the Word Social International Council. Tasks have been shared among these actors to allow for wider mobilisation and success for the Forum.


Djadié Dagnoko, Coordinateur, Comité Malien du Forum

Taoufik Ben Abdallah, Secrétaire, Forum Social Africain

Samir Amin, Directeur, Forum du Tiers Monde, Président, Forum Mondial des Alternatives

ROUND TABLES 18th January 2006 Bamako

Areas of debate

This note is purposedly drafted in a telegraphic style with a view to identifying the areas for debates not the method to conduct them. These must be open in order to identify the obstacles that the challenge represents, the variety of views and political cultures, indeed the eventual conflicts of economic and social interests, and finally, on this basis, facilitate progress towards common goals for the struggle.

Bloc 1: Rebuilding the tricontinental political front (two groups).

Organising the mobilisation against concepts of “preventive wars”, US and NATO military aggressions.

Reviewing the achievements of tribunals operating in this frame (the Iraq Tribunal…).

Mobilising people for the dismantling of US and NATO bases.

Bloc 2: Rebuilding the economic tricontinental front (three groups).

Reviewing the proposals and perspectives formulated by the group of 20, the group of 90, NAM and other similar organisations of the South. Promote South South Cooperation and suitable regionalisations.

Suggest proposals for the building of common fronts identifying short term and longer term goals in each of the major areas of economic globalization (trade, capital flows, transfers of technology, debt etc.).

Bloc 3: Rebuilding the ideological and cultural fronts of the South (two groups).

Analysis of the para-ethnical and para-religious involutions which divide peoples of the South. Suggest strategies to combat them.

In defense of democratic cultural and ideological diversity.

Bloc 4: Rebuilding the anti-imperialist front in the centers of the Triad US-Europe-Japan (two groups)

The European Social Movement facing the challenge of the EU choices : military alignment on the US, the role of NATO in the strategy of new imperialism. Anti war movements.

Europe in its relations with the South.

Bloc5: Rebuilding the internationalist front North/South (three groups)

Rebuilding united fronts of labour in the conditions of the various regions in the world; identifying areas of common struggles and targets facilitating progress of peoples’ internationalism.

Mobilise opinions in North and South around targets of global campaigns.

Suggest adequate media systems.

Objectives and follow up

· The objectives of the day are not only to “discuss” questions but to facilitate proposals which represent steps ahead and open terrains for further advances.

· The animators for each group should therefore conceive their responsibility in that perspective and organise accordingly the debates.

· A first “quick synthesis” of proposals should be presented at a Press Conference.

· Beyond the day, much work is expected from a small drafting group which should prepare an important document for further reflection and action.