by Julio Godoy.
10 (IPS) - The
European Social Forum opening in Paris Wednesday will
look for an economic model that could become an
alternative to capital-led globalisation.
This search will be a central theme during the three
days of meetings that will see 270 seminars, 55
conferences and 287 workshops in and around Paris.
Close to 60,000 delegates from 1,500 non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) are expected to attend.
Other themes will include a critical review of
European agriculture policy, women's rights and
xenophobia. The European Social Forum (ESF) will also
seek to promote dialogue between cultures and peoples,
The ESF will end Nov. 15 ”with a festive, massive
protest to evoke a European culture of peace and
citizens' rights,” says Pierre Khalfa, member of the
forum's organising committee.
”The march will be held in an artistic and activist
form,” Khalfa added. ”It will be a manifestation of
the European Social Forum, and will unite diverse and
active movements into one rally to celebrate them
The Paris forum will be the second such European
meeting following the ESF in Florence in Italy last
year. It will follow the principles of the World
Social Forum (WSF) launched in Porto Alegre in Brazil
”We consider the ESF a European basis to the WSF, and
a complement to it,” Laurent Vannini, one of the ESF
organisers in Paris told IPS. The ESF will prepare
European civil society participation at the fourth
World Social Forum to take place in January next year
in the Indian city Mumbai.
”We will be discussing WSF subjects on a European
basis, and will give peoples and organisations on our
continent who cannot attend meetings in faraway places
the opportunity to express themselves and to exchange
views with other organisations,” Vannini said.
The ESF will focus on ”how to create an alternative
model of economic and diplomatic relations based on
human development, and not on capitalist profits,” he
The ESF will aim to create international networks
among civil society organisations, find ways for them
to reinforce one another's work, and enrich the common
assessment against neo-liberalism, Vannini said. It
will seek to promote a Europe that stands for peace,
solidarity and human rights.
Among the civil society representatives attending the
ESF are unions, environmental and humanitarian
committees such as Greenpeace and Doctors of the
World, women's groups, supporters of immigrants'
rights, and human rights organisations from all over
the continent, including Central and Eastern Europe.
The ESF programme will follow five ”lines of
discussions”. The first line against war will bring
debates on international law, global disarmament,
military globalisation and imperial politics. It will
propose new North-South relations based on development
and economic cooperation.
A second line of discussion against neo-liberalism
calls for debates on citizens' and democratic rights
in Europe, and an analysis of the draft European Union
The third and fourth lines of discussions call for an
examination of ”the logic of profit and for an
ecologically sustainable society”, and of ”the
merchandising processes of democratic information,
culture, and education.”
Within these the ESF will examine deregulation and
privatisation of public services, especially water.
”Several NGOs working on public services will launch a
campaign to keep water in public hands,” Hélène
Ballande of the French section of Friends of the Earth
”We also want implementation of the international
legal framework to ensure that private international
corporations are held responsible for their noxious
behaviour, be it environmental disasters, corruption,
or exploitation of human work,” Ballande said.
The last line of discussion will cover racism,
xenophobia, and exclusion of immigrants in Europe.