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Media Coverage of the ESF

infos | 07.09.2004 18:44 | European Social Forum | Free Spaces | Globalisation | Indymedia | London

This is a page to collect media articles about the European Social Forum in London October 2004.

Below is one of the first - a guardian article. There have already been articles in the Evening Standard, the Tribune and a phone in debate on bbc london.

Gathering of left to attract 30,000,,1297009,00.html

Tania Branigan
Saturday September 4, 2004
The Guardian

"No one's in charge," said a participant happily while looking up from his minutes. "This is time-consuming and messy."

With the conference season fast approaching, the delegates in a small central London office this week were planning their grand autumn gathering. But to anyone accustomed to the disciplined choreography of modern party politics, the sprawling nature and democratic planning of the third European Social Forum is likely to come as a shock.

Up to 30,000 people from trade unions, charities and community groups in Europe will come to the capital next month. British affiliates alone include Oxfam, Unison, the Muslim Council of Britain and the Gay Authors Workshop.

"Traditional conferences are almost a show: this is built from the bottom up," Hannah Griffiths, of Friends of the Earth, said. This weekend, planning committees are meeting in Brussels to choose speakers for the event, after careful discussions with organisations in their region.

Rather than risk the tyranny of the majority by voting, the delegates will reach a consensus through negotiations.

The four-day event, which kicks off on October 14, will include debates, seminars and hundreds of workshops, and will culminate in a demonstration through central London. The mayor, Ken Livingstone, has pledged an estimated £400,000 in funding.

"This is an extraordinary international event - the biggest conference in Europe," he said yesterday. "It will bring huge benefits to London to be able to discuss the last word in environmental protection, human rights, public services, peace and fair trade with tens of thousands of young people from all over Europe. I hope they will go home with a permanent place for this city in their hearts."

The labyrinthine planning process results from lengthy arguments between "horizontals" - activists who wish to eschew hierarchies and retain the forum's open, democratic nature - and more traditional, structured organisations. Sceptics may question whether participants can make their ideas attractive to the wider public, or whether the forum is simply a talking shop for the left.

"If we say it's going to change the world it sounds ludicrous," said an ESF spokesman. "But on a really basic level it's people learning from each other and building strategic relationships. Those things do make a difference."

Reporter's blog
17.11.2003: Matthew Tempest: French resistance

Special reports
ESF 2003
Green politics

Useful links
European Social Forum, Paris 2003
World Social Forum, India 2004
World Social Forum, Porto Alegre
War on want

Official sites
World Bank
Department for International Development

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