The Social Forum to be held in July in Monastir happens in a context that can be summarized as follows:
1. The Tunisian revolution, the revolts, the uprisings, the civil wars and the protest have shaken established political systems. Popular uprising against authoritarianism, dictatorships, for freedom, dignity, democracy and social justice have not always led to democratic regimes.
2. Social justice is at the core of the dynamics: from Cairo to Sidi Bouzid, through Talsint, Agdem Izig, Sidi Ifni, Tinghir, Khouribga, Taza, Algiers, Tizi Ouzou, Gafsa, Sanaa, Beyrouth or Amman, the Maghreb and Mashreq people protest for employment, social justice, and against corruption, squandering of public goods, for access to health and education, for freedom, for democracy, etc.
3. The systemic crisis of the capitalist system, all along with the Tunisian upheavel, reinforced by the Egyptian uprising, have triggered a global wave of protests, insurrections, revolutions, indignation and occupations, which spread very fast: struggle against austerity plans in Europe, protest against the power of financial institutions, banks and students’ and households’ debt in the USA, etc. In Chili, in Mexico or in Quebec, it takes the shape of mass mobilization for the access to public services and education. In Senegal, it raised the demand for a real democracy. But even if it is shaken, the system manages to regenerate. From the Maghreb to the Middle East, from Europe to the Americas, from the streets of Kasserine to those of Montreal, and through Tahrir Square, Puerta del Sol, Zucotti Park/Freedom Square, Syntagma Square, etc. emerges a global call to build another world.
4. The paradoxes of the ongoing revolutions and uprisings: elections that have followed the untying of the uprisings in the region have consecrated the victory of islamist parties in Tunisia, in Morocco and in Egypt. The first declaration of the Transitional National Council in Libya declared the return to Sharia, the Islamic law.
5. The emergence of social networks and alternative medias has been central for communication and the right to access to information.
This summarizes the context in which the Preparatory Assembly to the World Social Forum 2013 is organized.
The preparatory Assembly to the WSF 2013
The Preparatory Assembly to the World Social Forum 2013 will take place from the 12th to the 17th of July. It is meant to be a crucial step in the process of strengthening the MaghrebSF, as well as in building a Maghreb-Mashreq SF and in preparing for the WSF 2013 in Tunisia. The assembly will be a momentum for convergences and articulation of struggles, in the wake of the upheavals that have shaken the world after the Tunisia revolution.
Thus, the assembly (or, actually, the assemblies) will articulate around 6 crucial dimensions or circles:
The international dimension, through the meeting of the WSF international council
The African dimension, with the meeting of the African Social Forum Council
The euro-mediterranean dimension, with the Flottilla expressing solidarity with migrants and for the rights to free movement and settlement
A Maghreb dimension with the evaluation of the MaghrebSF process
A Maghreb-Mashreq dimension to lay the foundations of a Maghreb-Mashreq Social Forum
A focus on the political and social situation in Tunisia, in the light of regional and international experiences
The program of the week reflects this approach based on those integrated circles, in order to strengthen the building of a Maghreb of the people, open and boost the Magheb-Mashreq space, all along with the global dimension and approach.
The program alternates plenary sessions and commissions workshops, the aim being to:
Strengthen existing networks and lay the foundations to new articulations among social movements;
Elaborate a program of actions in order to boost struggles and dynamics of solidarity in the region;
Elaborate and implement and plan of mobilization for the WSF 2013
Dimensions of the Assembly
The international dimension
The meeting of the WSF IC will be opened. It will be dedicated to a political debate on the challenges and issues at stake within social movements in the context of the current political upheavals in the world and of the systemic crisis of capitalism.
The IC will also begin a discussion on the future of the WSF and of the IC itself.
The Mediterranean dimension and the rights of migrants: bridges not walls
The Mediterranean day will focus on freedom of movement, migrants’ and asylum seekers’ rights. The arrival of the Flottilla Boats 4 people will be a moment to express and show solidarity with undocumented migrants and missing migrants who disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as to demand freedom of movement and the implementation of migrants rights.
Focus on Tunisia
Tunisia, whether its revolution succeeds or fails, will remain as a laboratory of transition towards democracy, which will be of interest to Tunisians as well as to any other activists in the world. Debates will focus on issues that Tunisian social movements consider to be crucial for Tunisia. They will include regional or global contributions, in order to draw some learning and to boost articulations between Maghreb and international struggles.
The Maghreb Assembly and the Assembly of Maghreb social movements will not reopen the debates that have been engaged during the past process, but will rather articulate around five points:
Evaluation of the Maghreb-Mashreq process: from El Jadida to Monastir
From 2008 in El Jadida to Monastir in 2012, the MaghrebSF has organized several meetings and debates and has made several decisions in order to build a Maghreb of the People. It has always
sought to be opened to the Mashreq:
Solidarity with miners, unionists and activists who have been either jailed or charged in the mining area of Gafsa (Tunisia) in 2008-2009:through campaign, delegations, petitions, a documentary movie, etc. in order to denounce a rising repression organized by the Tunisian central power against the pacific mobilization of the population of the mining area and to claim for the liberation of workers in Gafsa;
Forum on Water and Environment in Zagora, 2009
Algiers: 2nd to 5th of October 2009: “October for Liberties” organized by the RAJ (a member of the MaghrebSF committee).RAJ commemorates every year the events of the 5th of October 1988, a popular uprising which gave birth to political pluralism in Algeria, during which 500 young people were murdered by soldiers;
Moroccan delegation to Nouakchott, 22nd to 25th of October 2009: in order to contribute to the mobilization of Mauritanian actors to the MaghrebSF dynamics;
Forum of Local Elected Officials in Marrakech: 18th to 20th of December 2009: Towards a new dynamics of cooperation between local elected officials and civil society. Process of social movements and local authorities, international experiences, evaluation of collective action, local participatory democracy, experiences of management of local authorities. Three concepts were at the center of this meeting: governance, democracy and human development;
March 2010, in Bouznika, Morocco: Forum of social movements and social forums: appraisal, challenges and perspectives facing the systemic crisis of neoliberalism. This forum was a step towards the Dakar WSF for a better world. This event gathered 700 participants of 340 organizations, associations, unions, networks and movements from all the regions of Morocco, Maghreb, Mashreq, Africa, the Americas, Europe, South and East Asia and Australia;
March 2010, Bouznika, Morocco: Social Forum of the Maghreb/Mashreq Youth: in order to contribute to the building of space for dialog, communication, coordination and experience sharing among youth movements confronting the neoliberal offensive in the Maghreb/Mashreq region;
May 2010, Algiers: Social Forum of Unions: the first Social Forum of Unions took place in may (14th and 15th) and gather around the slogan “For the truth about the assassination of martyr Farhat Hashad”. The forum dealt with freedom of association. It started with reports by countries, addressed the role of unions in the support of civil societies fighting for democracy, on the consequences of the world economic crisis in the Maghreb region, and on ways to confront it. The forum ended with the adoption of a joint declaration and a charter of a Maghreb Forum of Unions;
October 2010, Egypt: Forum on Environment and access to Health: The Forum on Health, Environment and Earth was organized in Cairo, from the 23rd to the 25th of October, by several organizations of civil society, networks and social movements of the regions. 150 participants from the region, but also from Brazil, Taiwan, France and the UK gathered around three axis: “the current situation and challenges for the development of the region”, “politics and governance”, “and after? Strategies and alternatives”, in articulation with the issues of Health, Environment and the Earth;
October 2010: World Education Forum, Palestine (30/10/2010), WEF extended in Lebanon (28-29/10/2010), WEF extend in
Morocco (30/10/2010): participation afar in the WEF was a way to express solidarity to the Palestinian people and its resistance against occupation. Social Dynamics in Maghreb have contributed to the debate on education in the Maghreb/Mashreq region and enlarged discussion on the global campaign “one aim: education for all”. The WEF extended was an opportunity to mobilize towards the WSF 2011 in Dakar around education;
African Forum on Cultural Rights in Casablanca, 28th of November 2010: the forum gather 98 participants from Morocco, Mali, Senegal, Niger, Togo and South Africa, from 48 organizations. It was organized as an open space of discussions, exchanges and debates on the issue of culture as a human right connected to the other rights; on the role of culture in the development processes; on cultural policies in Morocco and in Africa, in order to prepare a joint participation on the issue in the WSF 2011 in Dakar. A call was adopted at the end of the forum;
December 2010: Maghreb Forum of Migrants, Brussels: on the 18th of December, 20 years after the UN Convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and their families. The forum dealt with migrants and their rights was an opportunity to connect organizations from both shores of the Mediterranean Sea around three axis: the situation of migrants and asylum seekers in the Maghreb region; the issue of borders’ externalization by the European Union; the impact of associations in the support and care of migrants on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea. At the end of the Forum, the MaghrebSF published a project of “Brussels Declaration”;
Delegation of solidarity with the Tunisian Revolution, April 2011: from the 19th to the 23rd of April 2011, the MaghrebSF organized a delegation of 90 participants from 60 organizations and 16 countries to express its solidarity with the actors of the revolution in Tunisia. It was also an opportunity for a meeting of the MaghrebSF committee. The delegation went to Gafsa, Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid and had debates with actors of the local social movements. The last days were dedicated to a meeting of the MaghrebSF committee in order to exchange on the analyzis and action plans of organizations involved in the regional and world social forum;
MaghrebSF Committee meeting, 09/2011:the FMAS has coordinated the international participation to this event and funded the journeys of 27 participants from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Belgium and France. Among the decisions made have to be noted: the definition of the role and function of the Tunisian secretariat, the setting up of a liaison committee (gathering members of the MaghrebSF from Morocco, Tunisia, Belgium and Egypt) and the defition of its role and functions; the elaboration of a plan of action towards 2012
MaghrebSF committee meeting in Marrakech, 10/12/2011: the committee met in December 2012. 56 participants attended the meeting, from 13 different countries. The meeting dealt with the preparation of the MaghrebSF preparation and of the WSF 2013;
December 2011 (Cairo) : integration of the Conference on the Arab Spring organized by the Center of Support of Development in Egypt within the agenda of the MaghrebSF;
February 2012, Lyon (France), seminar on the conflict in Sahara: for a pacifist and fair solution to the conflict, in order to promote the building of a Maghreb of the People, the unity of Maghreb and democracy, as well as to avoid any negative influence on the future MaghrebSF, 17th to 19th of February;
Thematic Forum on Women within the Women’s March for Equality,
27th to 29th of April 2012, Marrakech: it gathered 240 activists (among which 150 women) from the Maghreb and Mashreq Region, in order to prepare for the WSF 2013. A Call of Women from the Maghreb-Mashreq Region “Towards democracy and parity” was adopted, underlining all the recommendations made during the workshops and seminars, which puts together the agenda of women from the region;
International meeting on alternative medias (E-JOUSSOUR), in Marrakech, april 27th to 28th (80 participants from Maghreb, Mashreq, Africa, France, the Americas): the aim was to define the context, the picture, the role and challenges of alternative medias in the region, as well as to establish a regional road-map for a joint advocacy in order to deepen and broaden freedom of expression in the region. A “call of Marrakech” “Civil Society in Africa and Mashreq: for the effectiveness of the right to communication” was adopted. Among other issues, in addresses community radios in Morocco;
Social Forum of Popular Neighborhoods, Casablanca, Morocco,
18th-19th May 2012: the forum gathered hundreds of inhabitants, activists, NGOs members. The aim was to deepen the reflection and the democratic debates on issues that directly concern inhabitants of popular neighborhoods, which are connected to the negative impact of globalization on their lives: violation of their economic, social, cultural and environemental rights, which are fundamental human rights;
Forum on the Youth and its role in the democratic transformation in the region and the world: to be organized in 2012 as a step to the MaghrebSF and the WSF;
The 2nd edition of the Migrations Forum in Oujda, Morocco: connected to the issues of borders, freedom of movement in the Euro-Mediterranean space and the implemntation of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers (to be organized in October 2012)
World Social Forum Free Palestine, in Porto Alegre (Brazil), 29th of November to 1st of December 2012
The progressive involvment of the MaghrebSF in the International Agenda
1)WSF IC, 22nd to the 24th of September 2008, Malmö, Sweden: this was the prelude to the enlargement of the MaghrebSF enlargement. The Expansion Commission stated the strategic relevance of expanding the WSF to the Maghreb/Mashreq region: “our priority is to expande geographically the WSF process to Eastern Europe, the Arab region and Sout and South-East Asia”.
2)January 2009, WSF Belem (Brazil):Contribution of a delegation of the MaghrebSF and organization of a worshop “perspectives of development of the dynamics connected to the SF process in the Maghreb/Mashreq region”.
3) Meetings of Harhoura (Rabat) may 2009 :
After the 9th edition of the WSF in Belem, Morocco hosted a series of meetings with around 200 participants from several organizations and movements from 30 different countries of the Americas, Africa, the Maghreb region, the Middle East that came for the WSF IC and side activities between the 3rd and the 9th of May in Harhoura/Rabat.
Three successive meetings occurred:
the African Social Forum Council
a meeting of the dynamics of the social movements in the Maghreb/Mashreq region
the International Council of the WSF
June 2010: US Social Forum: participation and mobilization of migrant Maghreb/Mashreq communities at the USSF on migrations and wars in Detroit.
June 2010: Participation and mobilization of migrants Maghreb/Mashreq communities at the European Social Forum in Istanbul (Turkey)
February 2011 – WSF 2011 Dakar: mobilization of more than 230 members of social movements from around 20 countries of the Maghreb and Mashred region as well as from Africa for the WSF in Dakar. The Maghreb/Mashreq delegation has organized three seminars and a Maghreb Assembly. Associations, unions and networks involved in the dynamics have also contributed to more than 20 self-organized activities.
May 2011: participation in the WSF IC in Paris: Participation within the session hosted on the revolutions in the Maghreb/Mashreq region, appraisal of the Dakar WSF, work in commissions, creation of an inter-commission group. The WSF strategy for 2012-2013 is focused on strengthening the dynamics in the Magreh/Mashreq region, with a special focus on solidarity with Palestine and a strong participation of the region’s actors in the global and regional agenda of the WSF.
September 2011: Participation in the Mesopotamia SF and to the work of the inter-commission from the 22nd to the 28th of September, Diyarbakir, Turkish Kurdistan
November 2011: Participation in a meeting of strategic reflection in Cairo (Egypt).
November 2011: Participation in the “South Asia Social Forum” and in the WSF IC in Dhaka (Bangladesh)
January 2012, Brazil: Participation of a Maghreb/Mashreq delegation (Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine) in the Thematic Social Forum “Crisis of capitalism, social and environmental justice” as well as to the meetings of the WSF IC in Porto Alegre, Brazil (23rd to the 29th).
Strengthening the network
This process has not only created synergies and solidarity but also networks and coordination, as well as texts, which form a crucial step in the process towards a People’s Maghreb and in the building of the Maghreb-Mashreq Social Forum:
a) The Maghreb Coordination for Human Rights
b) The Women Maghreb-Mashreq coodinationc)
c) The reconciliation of Maghreb’s unions seeking to go beyond the USTMA (Union syndicale des Travailleurs du Maghreb Arabe)
d) The Maghreb Coordination on the issues of migrants and asylum seekers
e) The Youth Maghreb – Mashreq Coordination
f) The first steps towards a Maghreb coordination on Social, Cultural and Economic Rights
g) The Maghreb Articulation on the struggles against corruption
h) First attempts to be deepened on the issue of transitional justice
a) The Charter of the People’s Maghreb
b) The El Jadida and the Lyon calls on the resolution of the conflict in Western Sahara
c) The Maghreb-Marsheq women’s call (output of the Marrakech meeting)
d) The call for the protection of migrants rights and for the freedom of movement (output of the Brussels meeting)
e) The call on Economic, Social and Culutral Rights coming out of the meeting of social movements in 2010
f) The Maghreb/Mashreq call on alternative medias
This is why the Monastir meetings should but the stress on building on this process, as well as on giving it a new pace to boost and open it.
Questions to be discussed
a. Appraisal of the process: from El Jadida to Monastir, what have we achieved? What is the evaluation in terms of mobilization, enlargement, social anchorage, deepening of the reflection ? in terms of building articulation and solidarity ? what are the weaknesses and restraints ?
b. How to participate in the WSF 2013?
c. Social movements and the Union of the Arab Maghreb: what are the challenges to build the Maghreb? What are our demands, our attitude confronting the process of the summit planed for October 2012 at the initiative of the Tunisian presidency? what are the urgent and long-term positions?
d. What vision and steps to build the Maghreb-Mashreq Social Forum? What actors? Around which axis?
e.The Monastir call for Maghreb-Mashreq: towards the strengthening and the opening of a People’s Maghreb-Mashreq. The crucial issue of political Islam should be addressed during a specific international meeting whose shape could be discussed in Monastir. It should build on the debates engaged in Morocco in 2009 and 2010, in the light of the new political context that emerged from the political upheavals in the region.