World social forum

IssueMarch - June 2002

The second World Social Forum (WSF), attended by an estimated 50,000 people representing hundreds of organisations from all over the world, took place from 31 January to 5 February in Porto Alegre, Brazil. It coincided with the government-to-government World Economic Forum, taking place in New York.

The WSF focused on opposing, and developing alternatives to, globalisation. WSF attenders demanded new workers' rights, agrarian reform, and the government's respect for international human rights and multilateral environmental agreements.

Actions and workshops took place in Brazil and the US during both meetings, with around 10,000 marching in New York. There were several arrests during the US marches and actions including seven ACT-UP activists who were arrested while dropping two massive banners from buildings in downtown New York. Their banners demanded that corporations pay for the treatment of the tens of thousands of HIV-positive workers they employ in poor countries.

Oscar Huenchunao, member of Ni Casco ni Uniforme, a conscientious objector group from Chile, represented War Resisters' International. He said that “the CO workshop turned out to be very attractive . I introduced the concept of nonviolent social empowerment. It was difficult to explain, but ... the final statement turned out to be very antimilitarist.”