World Social Forum WSF 2007 – Closure

Latest publications about this event:

The 2007 World Social Forum, BY Kathambi Kinoti, 27 January 2007:

The seventh annual World Social Forum (WSF) ended in Nairobi, Kenya on January 25, 2007,with thousands of delegates marching from the city’s Korogocho slums to Uhuru Park. This year’s Forum drew together an estimated 60,000 participants from all over the world and was said to be the ‘most international’ [1] of the forums, partly because African delegates were able to attend in large numbers because of this year’s location. Nevertheless, the start of the Forum saw demonstrations by some Kenyans who said that they were disqualified from participating as they were unable to afford the registration fees. Their action, with its rallying call of ‘Free Everything’ persuaded the Forum’s organizing committee to allow them free entry.

Order amidst chaos?

The World Social Forum is held to coincide with the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where major global economic policies are shaped without the input of the majority of the global population. The World Social Forum is synonymous with anti-globalization and anti-neoliberalism.

While some people would like to see this Forum come up with concrete counter-measures against the prevailing global economic order, others celebrate the Forum’s mish-mash of events on different aspects of social justice. This year’s meet featured about 1500 different workshops, cultural performances, dialogues and other events.

The Nairobi Forum was characterized by chaotic schedules. There were delays in the registration process which was disorganized. Many of the events were cancelled, rescheduled or moved to different venues without adequate notification to participants. Sometimes translation was not available for
people who did not speak English.

One of the criticisms raised about the WSF is the absence of a clear unified agenda from the globe’s civil society for the way forward. Altaf Ali Bhimji says the Forum needs direction and ‘if it attempts to be all things for everyone it can end up being nothing for anyone.’ [2]

According to Beate Wilhlem of the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development, it is alright to discuss concerns over social injustices, but it is also now necessary to develop possible solutions. [3] On the other hand, since the first Forum in Porto Alegre, there has been a tension between the Forum being a space for the mobilization of direct action against all that Davos stands for, and it being a space for reflection and debate. [4]

Like its predecessors, this year’s Nairobi gathering took the latter path. It did not ’seek adherence to one central idea capable of attacking the dominant ideology. Rather it accomplished its basic objective of respect and appreciation for the diverse citizen’s initiatives and ideas.’ [5]

For some, the World Social Forum serves as a space to affirm a sense of solidarity with other movements around the world. In a speech on the final day of the Forum, Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai said ‘When you work with poor people, you get discouraged but that changes when you meet other people who face the same challenges as you are dealing with. You know then that you are not alone.’ [6] (FULL TEXT).

Other publications:

Article by Kathambi Kinoti, AWID, Friday 26 January 2007;

14km run marks end of World Social Forum

Kenya: Activists Determined to Take On Globalisation’s Challenges;

Africa: Human Rights Issues Dominate Meeting As New Agenda is Set;

Kenya: Forum Ends With Calls for Social Equity;

“Why I attended the World Social Forum? – slum resident:
on IRIN;
on allAfrica;

Street kids raid poverty summit;

Global Church Bodies Take On World Suffering;

Swiss not convinced by World Social Forum;

South takes on North over debt at Kenya talks:
on Kenya London News;
on news;

Kenya: Organising the World Social Forum;;

Poor people gatecrash World Social Forum in Kenya

Whose Forum is it anyway?‘ – Local Kenyan activists are furious at the creeping commercialisation of the World Social Forum;
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: Activists Determined to Take On Globalisation’s Challenges;

WSF in Kenya stormed by slum kids;

Anti-globalisation meet hailed a success despite low turnout;

Many lessons to learn from social conference;

… and many more …

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