Roughly a thousand people participated in the preparatory assembly for World Social Forum (WSF) 2013, held over six days beginning July 12 in Monastir, Tunisia. Various workshops and meetings marked the first three days of the assembly, and the International Council pursued its work during the last three days. Not only were the main international levers put in place, but participants took the opportunity to strengthen the dynamics of mobilization in the Maghreb, as well as throughout the rest of Africa.
A preparatory assembly focused on fights
The African Council launched the assembly and began its work on July 12. In the following days, the Tunisian Committee on Economic and Social Rights pursued its work, in an autonomous fashion, in the context of a day largely dedicated to mobilization in the Maghreb-Mashreq region.
We should also note the important ‘The Maghreb Coordination on the issue of migrants and asylum seekers’ initiative, launched in the first days of assembly. A day of activities and debates took place surrounding the topics of free circulation, migrants’ rights, and asylum seekers from Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, and Tunisia. The arrival of the “Boats 4 People” flotilla was a moving moment of solidarity with illegal immigrants and those lost at sea in the Mediterranean.
Different workshops were held, notably concerning youth, namely, on the Quebec student protests, the Y’en A Marre (“Fed up”) movement in Senegal, and the youth of Croatia and Tunisia. Recall the major role that the unemployed and educated youth have played in the mobilizations of the Tunisian Spring.
The International Council makes room for social movements
More than 500 people were present during the first day of the International Council (IC). The gathering of the IC was set to begin with a political debate on the concerns and challenges of social movements in the context of the capitalist crisis. The last two days of the assembly were dedicated to workshops, which aimed to establish the foundations of the international commissions for 2013’s WSF.
However, the IC also hosted several talks given by the leaders of the social movements which have emerged in the past two years. Lectures were given by an American woman of New York’s Occupy Wall Street, a Tunisian feminist, a member of the Senegalese Y’en A Marre movement, a representative from the Association des chômeurs (ADC) de Tunisie (advocates for Tunisia’s unemployed), participants from the Subversive Forum in Croatia, who pointed to parallels between their struggles in Zaghreb and the situation in Maghreb, and a woman from the Réseau maalien Comité, who discussed sub-Saharan mobilization.
The policy point of view was introduced by Gustave Massiah, of Initiative pour un autre monde (Alternatives International France), who sought to answer the question “What changes does the current international situation demand of the global social justice movement?” In particular, he argued that we are assisting in a new cycle of revolutions and upheaval. His written contribution will soon be made widely available.
The discussion allowed a large number of participants to make their opinions heard. Mike Palecek, of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW-STTP) was warmly applauded when he called for a greater participation for the union movement in the global social justice movement and next year’s WSF. Let us note that the CUPW is also working to encourage a regroupment of the postal unions of in the Arab world and the Maghreb region in order to promote a more concerted participation at the next Forum.
Three international commissions were put in place in order to develop the financing, communication, and mobilizations aspects of the movement, in concert with related committees from Tunisia and the Maghreb.
Finally, a working group was established in order to review the functioning of the IC and its liaison committee, which had been largely inactive of late. Criticism was raised concerning the low level of organization and preparation which characterized the preparation assembly, despite the fact that progress was made. But we will come back to this.