Report of the APSF process meeting held 10th -12 August 2022.
Participants from a dozen countries, representing a wide range of sectors in the different regions of Asia met from Aug 10th to 12th and discussed the social forum process in Asia Pacific region and the relevance and the possibilities and challenges involved in taking it forward.
Sushovan Dhar gave an introduction to the WSF, which was followed by a report of the APSF event and process from Avinash Kumar. The session was moderated by Boonthan T. Verawongse. The main presentation was from Prof. Walden Bello, who had just been released from prison on the politically motivated cyber-libel charges he was facing in Philippines. He gave an “Overview of the situation in the Asia Pacific region” where he presented an analysis of the situation in the Asia Pacific, especially regarding the importance of formulating an approach towards China and the South China Sea. He spoke about authoritarianism in the region and his own experience in the Philippines.
The second session had interventions from networks/sectors, countries, moderated by Chandan Kumar.
Myanmar Debbie Stothard
Indonesia Ahmad Rifai
Philippines Corazon Fabros
Malaysia Jeyakumar Devaraj
West Asia Rand Firas – Online
Pakistan ` Farooq Tariq
Nepal Arjun Karki
India: Avinash Chanchal
Bangladesh Kaniz Fatima
Palestine and BDS Apoorva Gautam
Thailand Boonthan T. Verawongse
Migrant Forum Asia William Gois
ASEAN Peoples Forum: Laddawan Tantivitayapitak
On Day 2 – 11th August 2022, the session discussed the debates in the International Council of the World Social Forum, seen from Asian perspective. The discussion was initiated by Meena Menon.
Main decisions and observations from the participants based on consensus: There was no time for consensus building on some of the main issues, so the discussion on these issues will continue. But there was a consensus on the following:
1. The social forum process is useful for movements in Asia. We must continue, to expand and intensify it.
2. The social forum space should mainly involve social movements, and sectoral networks which are in struggle.
3. IC needs to be more balanced/ inclusive. It is missing the social movements globally and representation from Asia, also Africa. At least 1/3rd of the IC members must be from Asia. Asian networks must be encouraged to become part of the process.
4. The APSF will apply for IC membership which it can under the present rules of IC membership expansion: persons to be a part of IC as representatives of APSF Facilitation Committee: Boonthan, Meena Menon, Arjun Karki. Representation in the IC should be rotated- two people will replace two of the representatives in two years. One of the three members would stay on for continuity
5. We will also reach out to those who are not in this room, to encourage them to re-enter the social forum space ad make it a more inclusive truly Asia Pacific process.
The APSF facilitation group/ committee was formed afresh by all the members present in the room. Other interested people will be welcomed to join in.
People in the facilitation group must be willing to give time. There is another broader group for those who are interested but not able to give time.
There was a concern on trying to understand why people/ organisations drop out, why there is a vacuum, and why there was practically no social forum process in Asia after 2011. We need to learn from the past and not repeat mistakes.
APSF in Nepal. It was decided to explore the possibility of organising a presential-hybrid APSF event in Nepal in last quarter of 2023. A final decision will be taken in December 2022. Nepal Groups will come up with a proposal by then.
Many issues eg funds, political situation, are important. The Facilitation committee will meet in Kathmandu, Nepal on 16-18 January 2023.
Calender of meeting points: There are several events happening in November and we need to find ways to engage with these meetings- either by organising session inside events, or organising side meetings. A few were identified:
ASEAN people’s forum – 1-4th Nov 2022 ASEAN summit – 10-15th Nov 2022
People’s forum – 7-9th Nov G20 – 13-15th Nov 2022
People’s forum – 14-15th NovAPEC – 16-19th Nov 2022
Bangladesh – Right to Food – December
The Facilitation Committee will continue meeting at 5pm (BKK time) on every Wednesday and the larger APSF General Meeting will continue to meet on 26th at 5pm BKK time
A few responsibilities were divided to prepare specifically for the possible APSF event in Kathmandu. Eg for fundraising, outreach, local liaison and logistics. It was also noted that:
We need creative ways to manage everything- smart logistics, we need simultaneous interpretation, spaces for parallel sessions, skilled and motivated volunteers, and we must request help from the government for logistics.
We should reach out to major networks so that they can send people, and participate online, and we need to encourage them to mobilize others as well and recommend that they raise funds.
Event and Process are both important. National processes should be initiated.