Press release from the CADTM international network

7th World Social Forum: the African challenge

19 January 2007


With the 7th edition of the World Social Forum about to take place from 20 to 25 January in Kenya, all eyes are on Africa. Following the success of the polycentric WSF of Bamako in bringing about a convergence of regional social movements, it is now the turn of all Africa to take up the challenge of mobilizing anticapitalist forces. The stakes are high because the objective is not only to consolidate the presence of the WSF process in Africa, but also to increase the visibility of actions undertaken by social movements and African activists. In its current phase, the WSF is therefore much more than a mere summit organized in protest to the Davos economic forum but a true platform for constructing alternatives to neo-liberal globalization.

The importance of World Social Forums within the global justice movement

The decision to hold the 7th WSF in Africa was taken in 2005, and since then, the results have been remarkable. As of today, more than 10,000 external participants from all over the planet have registered for the WSF. Over 1,000 activities are planned for the self-organized programme on themes as diverse as change in international institutions, cancellation of the debt, migrations and development, food sovereignty, women, privatization of public services, human rights, the fight against war, etc. The Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM, an international network with its international secretariat in Liège) will take an active part in discussions on topics such as the audit of the debt in Southern countries, the construction of a new international architecture, the creation of a Southern Bank, the ecological debt, to name just a few.

Beyond these four days of exchange and debate, the WSF aims to be a platform for contact and convergence designed to establish directions for work and concrete actions in the coming years. The various international networks can take full advantage of this forum to put together their common agendas for mobilization.

This forum is part of a movement to create solidarity links with Africa and other parts of the world to fight effectively against the neo-liberal system. For example, it is the place to hear and to learn from the experiences of certain Latin American countries, such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador and to hasten the wind of change across the world.

The challenges of the Forum

However, several issues and concerns remain regarding the 7th WSF and the participation of local populations, and African people in general.
Will these populations be sufficiently represented? Will the people of Kibera, the largest shantytown in Africa, and a living proof of the failure of neo-liberal policies, be participating in this forum? Will various obstacles, either financial (high registration fee) or logistical (translation) make their attendance problematic? In addition, one should not forget the influence of the large NGO’s on grassroots movements, or the poor representation of local social movements in the WSF preparation proccess - factors that will no doubt hinder mobilization efforts. Finally, one must also take into account the present context of war and conflict in the countries neighbouring Kenya.

The future of the WSF in the global justice process

This 7th World Social Forum is a turning point in the global justice movement. It is, in fact, the last “traditional” annual world social forum. Following a decision in October 2006 of the international Council on the forum process, there will be no 8th WSF in 2008. In its place, there is to be a global and worldwide action whose precise form has yet to be defined. Will this action take place over several days? Will there be priority themes? These are some of the questions still requiring answers. The fourth day of the 7th WSF (24 January 2007) will be a day of convergence and concrete proposals, and it is hoped that the demands and claims of the social movements will be heard. This last day should therefore serve to obtain a clearer view of the future of WSF processes. The international Council, which will convene on 26 and 27 January after the close of the WSF, should then summarize the situation and take a position on this matter.
The objective for the African social movements and global justice movements as a whole is to take up these major challenges so that the slogan “Another world is possible” becomes a reality. The 7th World Social Forum in Nairobi is thus a step towards the construction of an authentic alternative to the social inequalities created by the current system.

Contacts:

Damien Millet, president of CADTM France, france at cadtm.org, 00 33 6 60 54 27 13
Eric Toussaint, president of CADTM Belgium, international at cadtm.org, 00 33 486 74 47 52 until Thursday 18/1 at 19H00.

List of telephone numbers for reaching the CADTM delegation:

Eric Toussaint (CADTM Belgium): 00 254 736 878 088 as from Friday 19 January afternoon (GMT 1pm + 3)
Jean Mpelé (CADTM Congo) : 00 254 736 89 89 28 .
If you are calling from Kenya, remove 00 254 and add 0, which gives you 0736 878 088
Already on the spot: Olivier Bonfond (CADTM Belgium): 00 254 736 878 081
Salissou Oubandoma (RNDD Niger): 00 254 734 63 06 41
Christine Vanden Daelen: 00 254 736 962 182
Myriam Bourgy: 00 254 736 962 163
Jos Geudens: 00 254 736 942 080 (CODEWES Belgie)

During the 7th WSF, the delegation from the CADTM international network is staying at the following address : Terminal Hotel, Moktar Daddah Street (opposite the City market) in Nairobi.

Further information on CADTM activities in Nairobi on www.cadtm.org
http://www.cadtm.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=3
programme : http://www.cadtm.org/texte.php3?id_article=2385




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