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A World Social Forum in 2024 in Nepal – East Monitor

The proposal was approved on Thursday (16) by the World Social Forum’s International Council following a promising presentation by a group of Asian organizations to hold a next event centered in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 2024. The indicative date is 14 February 19 and the objective conditions for carrying it out, including logistical and material issues, will be detailed at a next meeting of the international college within a month.

If it goes ahead according to the calendar and terms originally discussed, the WSF’s biggest event will return to Asia 20 years after its first meeting in Mumbai, India. Nearby regional or thematic forums are being considered in various places, including in Porto Alegre and Salvador, in Brazil and also in West Africa for a future return of the WSF to the continent, perhaps in 2026. But the chances are that another candidacy will take the centralized FSM of the direction to Nepal in 2024. Regional events such as the South Asian FS, Asia-Pacific FS and the Nepalese FS itself gave muscle to the process so that the proposal could be made now.

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Parade of the opening march of the South Asian Social Forum held in 2008 in Bangladesh (Rita Freire/Ciranda)

The dream of making Nepal an address for the WSF has been going on since the forum’s birth, in 2001, but the movement to make it happen was cut short at the very beginning, in 2002, when a coup by the Nepalese king against the elected officials themselves government took place and the monarch seized power, destroying the formal achievement of a democratic regime in 1990.

After years of conflict and popular struggle and the overthrow of the monarchy in 2008 – the same year Bangladesh hosted a South Asian Social Forum – Nepal adopted the current constitution in 2015, which defines the country as a secular republic with quotas for invisible groups in politics, such as women , indigenous peoples and Dalits, as a result of the struggles for democracy.

In 2018, civil society organizations finally held a first Nepali Social Forum, a regional edition, and then moved on to virtual WSF events in the years marked by the covid-19 pandemic. Inequality, injustice and impunity remain embedded in the political and social fabric of contemporary Nepal. Poverty in a country with a very high demographic density challenges public policies. Women are standing up against legislation that still discriminates against them. The FSM can fuel movements that resist the neoliberal pressures that are coming against rights and freedoms in Nepal and around the world. But local organizers believe that the less closed system, still dealing with the recent democratic transition, will allow organizations to enter into dialogue with governments, parties and institutions so that a global event can be facilitated.

Beyond the local emphasis, the IC’s decision vis-à-vis Nepal emphasizes the importance of listening to Asian civil society as an essential interlocutor on the direction of global geopolitics and its impact on populations. The region needs to add its perspective to the WSF in discussions that are currently quite western.

As a representative from Nepal told the International Council, the host country of the next forum is affected by all the major ongoing crises, whether the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the environmental, energy crisis or capitalism itself. At the same time, the country has water and energy resources – an advantage that does not eliminate the difficulties caused by the monsoons that flood its lands from June to September. Nepal is located between two major economies of the world, India and China, both protagonists of major global disputes and partners of Brazil, Russia and South Africa in BRICS.

The organizations and movements that will go to Nepal are already beginning to worry about the unpredictable development of situations that are emerging now, inserted in regional and thematic debates in the forum, and which must be visible on the world agenda. Iran-Saudi Arabia brokered by China is a new development today, which will still have consequences beyond agreements or ceasefires in Yemen, and which the US and Israel are trying to minimize. But where will relations be headed in a year? The WSF in Nepal has to consider Arab struggles since it was built, pointed out a representative of the Palestinian Social Forum at the IC. The Palestinian people are experiencing a process of violent ethnic cleansing that must be stopped now. It is sad to imagine that in another year the discussion will still be the fight against Israeli apartheid without the international community getting involved. The Middle East must be included in the mobilization as a region consisting of West Asian countries. Bringing these debates to the table of the International Council means that the political construction of the next WSF has begun.

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One year is too little time to organize a central WSF event. The problems range from access to visas to the reception of delegations, from global mobilization to the conditions of representation of the poorest, marginalized or criminalized organizations, from the preparation of territories to the rapidly changing communication architecture. And besides managing registrations for activities and people in really large numbers, there is the difficulty of finding funds for activities that question the establishment and attack the certainties with which financial power rules the world.

The biggest challenge between now and then is the collective construction of an agenda capable of being relevant to social struggles in the rest of the world. At the very least, taking responsibility for organizing a global social forum means that committee members give up many hours and nights of sleep throughout the year, while the idea of ​​meeting the people of the Himalayas and the land of Everest excites people from all over the world. to want to reach out and share their activities and experiences there.

But once the challenge is accepted, a first decision is made. With the support of the International Council, WSF 2024 begins its journey to Nepal.

(Updated 23 March 2023 due to planned date change for WSF 2024)

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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