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World Social Forum: A backgrounder

Born as an annual global event to discuss strategies to challenge globalisation, the World Social Forum (WSF) will convene in Mumbai from January 16 to 21, the first time it is being held in Asia.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2004 22:41 IST
PTI

Born as an annual global event to discuss strategies to challenge globalisation, the World Social Forum (WSF) will convene in Mumbai from January 16 to 21, the first time it is being held in Asia.

The WSF was held annually from 2001 to 2003 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, but decided to move abroad to build wider support for the anti-globalisation movement long dominated by Europeans and Latin Americans.

The movement was boosted after one of its key proponents, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was elected president of Brazil in 2002.

India was chosen as the WSF host country due to the large number of its activist groups and past stance as a professed advocate of poor nations, even though the country has been liberalising its economy for the past decade and has seen a growing presence of multinational firms.

Organisers say some 75,000 people and 2,400 non-governmental groups have registered to attend the WSF in Bombay.

Hundreds of discussions are planned on the global economic order, human rights issues and international security, with a number of cultural performances planned on the sidelines.

Among prominent people scheduled to attend are:

- Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, recipient of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize

- Former Israeli justice minister Yossi Beilin and former Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, authors of the unofficial Middle East peace plan known as the Geneva Initiative

- Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission

- Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, a former chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank who has been an outspoken critic of world financial institutions

- Jose Bove, the French sheep farmer and radical unionist who shot to prominence after helping destroy a partially built McDonald's in 1999 in a protest against US trade sanctions

- Ahmed Ben Bella, the first president of Algeria after independence from France

- Arundhati Roy, Indian novelist who won the 1997 Booker Prize for "The God of Small Things," and an activist critical of US foreign policy

- Former Indian president K.R. Narayanan

- Former Indian prime minister V.P. Singh

- Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jehangir

- Federico Mayor, former head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

- Finnish Green activist Satu Hassi