Our experience as grassroots activists of the ESF in Paris was that the domination of the organisation process by traditional left forces in France led to the marginalisation of debates around Islamaphobia, local social forums, alternative media like Indymedia and grassroots movements of women and immigrants. It also left a serious accessibility problem for working people because the Forum was during the working week and disabled participants who found the place hostile to their needs. We are convinced that for a politically relevant and accessible ESF to take place in the UK in 2004, the process behind its organisation must be democratic, open and transparent, and allow the full participation of our diverse movement to shape it.
Two very important meetings
(1) 3 DECEMBER - ESF UK Process Launch Meeting, 4pm-6pm, Conference Room 5, City Hall, The Queens Walk, London SE1 2AA, nearest tube/station, London Bridge
All interested groups, activist networks, movements, NGOs, associations, community groups, social centres, trade unions, charities, and individuals are urged to attend to begin discussing the process of organising the ESF in London. The meetings' initiators are requesting that each group send no more than 2 delegates to ensure that no one group dominates the meeting, but that all can be represented. In France, 300+ groups signed the French Initiative for the ESF 2003 statement and were involved in the process. Only a handful have so far committed to the UK ESF.
2) 13 - 14 DECEMBER - ESF European Assembly Meeting, London
Time: Saturday, 9.30am to Sunday 1pm
Venue: City Hall, The Queens Walk, London SE1 2AA
Nature: The first meeting to discuss preparation for the ESF to be held in
England 2004 and an assessment of the Paris ESF 2003.
Representatives of the European social movements that were involved in organising the ESF in Florence and Paris will come to London to deliver their evaluation of the ESF in Paris and agree with the UK groups on a process acceptable to all for the ESF in the UK 2004. The European groups will not agree any process foisted on UK social movements - they want everyone to feel represented and involved in the process who wants to be. It is important again that as many groups, networks, organisations and so on as possible are represented at this meeting so as to lock into the organising process the diversity we need. We will send more information on this meeting asap.
On the eve of this European Assembly meeting, the 12 December, there will be a meeting at 8pm of the UK social forum network and all interested activists to exchange information and ideas about what they want for the ESF 2004 in the UK.
Please circulate this statement below as widely as possible. It is important
that all interested groups and individuals across Britain will be enabled to
play an active role in the European Social Forum in 2004. The statement
limits itself to the organisational structures, because without democratic
structures in place, there is no mechanism that guarantees all voices to be
The statement will be put forward to the first open ESF meeting that takes
place on December 3 in London City Hall (conference room 5, 4pm) as well as
the the European assembly on December 13/14 that decides on how the ESF in
Britain in 2004 will be run. Therefore please sign up to this statement as
soon as possible - but by December 12, 6pm the latest -by sending an email
to email@example.com and indicate if you are signing up
a.. as an individual
b.. as an organisation
c.. in personal capacity as a member of an organisation
*** Proposal for the preparatory process of the ESF 2004 in Britain ***
We, the undersigned, intend to take an active part in preparing for the ESF
in Britain. In the spirit of the ESF being a process and space, not just an
event, we make the following suggestions on the organisation of the UK ESF
A) Consultation Process
Many organisations and individuals in Britain still do not know that the ESF
2004 will take place here. Therefore, as a matter of some urgency, this
information must be disseminated as widely and as locally as possible. All
groups and campaigns should be actively encouraged to take a full part in
the preparatory process. The development of local social forums and ESF
caucus groups should be actively encouraged by all participants (for example
school students for the ESF/artists for the ESF/pensioners for the ESF etc).
No decision-making and organisational structures should be decided upon
prior to this consultation process.
B) Decision-making Process
As part of this consultation process, we propose the following:
* The ESF European Assembly (EA) should be the highest decision-making body
of the preparatory process, meeting every two months in accessible cities
across Europe, with particular efforts to reach out to the East.
* The decisions of the EA should be guided by a monthly UK Assembly (UKA),
beginning in January 2004 and meeting in different cities across the UK on a
weekend to ensure maximum participation.
* At the first UKA in January, decisions should be taken as to:
(1) the number and tasks of various working groups, eg: organisation,
finance, venues, transport, accommodation, outreach, programme, Assembly of
Social movements etc.
(2) setting up an organising group/network (OG) wholly accountable to the
UKA, whose sole task is to implement the political and organisational
decisions of the monthly assembly on a day-to-day basis. Participants in the
OG should openly declare their membership of any group, campaign or party.
With the increased involvement, the UKA can appoint additional members to
the OG. The UKA can also recall members of the OG.
* All of these structures - the EA, UKA and OG - must be open to all
interested actors of civil society - organisations and individuals - who
abide by the WSF Charter of Principles; they must operate by consensus
decision-making, meet in public, publish their agendas and discussion
documents in public well in advance of meetings and make available full
minutes as soon as possible afterwards.
(C) Organisation Process
To facilitate a democratic process, all meetings of the UKA and EA should be
organised by a special working group which works with the OG to:
* Prepare agendas
* Organise rotating chairs/facilitators
* Organise proper minute-taking
* Prepare the items to be discussed: photocopying documents and proposals,
organise their translation, organise the use of overhead projectors or
PowerPoint equipment to facilitate discussion, etc
* Publicise agendas, minutes and discussion items on various email lists and
the ESF UK website