Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Definitions, objectives, Principles and head office 3
Chapter 2: Ethical landmarks for discussions and debates within the PSF 5
Chapter 3: Organizational arrangements for the PSF 6
Chapter 4: General Assembly of the Peoples’ Social Forum 7
Chapter 5: Co-ordinating Council 9
Chapter 6: Committees 10
Chapter 7: The Expansion Commissions 15
Chapter 8: Caucuses 16
Chapter 9: Legal representation, financial arrangements and contracts 17
Chapter 10: Amendments to the by-laws 18
ORGANIZATIONAL CHART 19
World Social Forum Charter of Principles 20
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 22
Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth 31
1.1.1 The Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF) is a critical public space aimed at fostering activist involvement of individuals and civil society organizations that want to transform Canada as it exists today. It is intended as a space for social movements to meet and converge, for the free expression of alternative ideas and grassroots exchanges and for artistic manifestations reflecting a diversity of demands and aspirations. It seeks to stimulate practical involvement and the development of networked action strategies aimed at fostering the convergence of struggles and building a broad strategic alliance against neo-liberal and neo-conservative policies in Canada with social justice, Original Peoples rights, sustainable development, international solidarity and participatory democracy at the centre of its concerns. The PSF is an inclusive space that must be occupied by all people and activist organizations convinced that another Canada is not just possible but above all necessary.
1.1.2 The PSF’s organizational arrangements set out below (the General Assembly of the PSF, the Co-ordinating Council, committees, expansion commissions and caucuses) are aimed at facilitating the holding of the Forum as such. The structures thus created are open to all those who as individuals or delegates of organizations intend to help make the PSF a reality. They are aimed at a convergence in solidarity of good intentions, initiatives, resources and skills. For administrative and operational purposes, a legal entity named Towards a PSF Initiative will be created. Note, however, that none of the various participants in this organizational structure, be they individuals or representatives of organizations, can claim to represent the PSF or speak on its behalf.
1.2 As an inclusive space for activist grassroots debate, the PSF intends to:
- foster constructive and mobilizing societal debate across the country;
- Recognize and honour the territories and the rights of the Original Peoples whose territories we reside on and where the PSF takes place.
- Act in solidarity with Original Peoples through rejecting the racist Doctrine of Discovery andTerra Nullius.
- prompt individual and collective grassroots participation;
- share, promote and circulate alternative initiatives and projects;
- stimulate the emergence of concrete actions and the convergence of struggles against neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism;
- promote sustainable development across Canada in a spirit of solidarity, justice, equality and harmony.
Statement of principles
1.3.1 The PSF is part of the global movement of social forums that have emerged at different levels since the first World Social Forum (WSF) was held in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in January 2001. The PSF intends, however, to root itself in the dynamic of local, regional and national initiatives and thus take full advantage of the thinking, analysis and proposals already developed by civil society. The PSF therefore supports and is inspired by the principles and proposals set out in the following documents:
- World Social Forum Charter of Principles (WSF, 2001)
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN, 2007)
- Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (2010)
1.3.2 The principles and proposals brought together in this reference document must not, however, be interpreted as something akin to a political program put forward by the PSF. The PSF does not represent individuals and no one is authorized to speak on its behalf. The PSF is above all a critical public space from which a plurality of alternative proposals and dissident voices should emerge. Nonetheless, certain principles and proposals, including those in the above-mentioned documents, can serve as a general framework for debates as a whole.
2.1 The PSF is an open meeting space aimed at furthering thinking and analysis, debate on democratic ideas, the development of proposals, completely free exchanges of experiences and the development of effective actions from civil society in response to the latter’s need to find alternatives to neo-liberalism and the domination of the world by Capital. It works towards building a human-centred society, seeks to propose initiatives to solve problems of exclusion, social inequalities and the environment and aims to recognize human dignity and the rights of Original Peoples.
2.2 The PSF is a plural and diversified, secular, non-government and non-partisan space that allows for a decentralized interaction and interconnection in networks of organizations, movements and individuals engaged in concrete actions at the local, regional and national levels.
2.3 Conceived as a space for exchanging experiences, the PSF stimulates knowledge and mutual recognition of participating organizations, movements and individuals by valuing their exchanges and discussions, especially about what society is building in order to direct economic activity and political action. These exchanges and discussions are aimed at taking into account human needs and rignts, along with respect for nature in a sustainable development perspective in solidarity with future generations.
2.4 As a space for interconnecting different mobilizations, the PSF seeks to strengthen and create new local, regional and national networks among the various components of civil society, with a view to enhancing the capacity for non-violent resistance to the process of dehumanization that the world is experiencing.
2.5 The PSF is a cross-Canada process that invites organizations, movements and individuals to take an active part in issues faced by people as members of society, participate in public debate and share the transformative practices that they try out.
3.1 In order to carry out the process of organizing in the best possible conditions a PSF that is open, inclusive and participatory, the following organizational arrangements are established. Their underlying logic is participation and inclusion, and they have been developed by considering basic organizational requirements:
• General Assembly
• Co-ordinating Council
• General Secretariat Committee
• Communications Committee
• Mobilization Committee
• Logistics Committee
• Program Committee
• Finance Committee
• Cultural Committee
• Expansion Commissions
3.2 These various organizational arrangements are aimed solely at holding a successful PSF. It is not the purpose of the assemblies, committees, commissions and caucuses to represent the PSF. They are simply organizational structures whose sole purpose is to facilitate holding the PSF and make it a reality.
3.3 Everyone’s skills and good intentions are welcome within the PSF’s organizational structure. A special invitation is made tothe many nations of Original Peoples of Canada and various organizations in civil society (non-government organizations, unions, community groups, various collectives…) because of their capacity for mobilizing, their expertise on the matters that will be addressed and their community involvement. They are therefore invited to delegate people to the various committees, expansion commissions and caucuses with a view to creating synergy with individual volunteers who also wish to get involved.
3.4 It is fundamental that these various structures operate in a way that is open and transparent in order to ensure the legitimacy of the PSF’s organizing process and make it consistent with the principles it espouses. Thus the members and minutes of all the Peoples’ Social Forum’s Assemblies and meetings of the Council, committees, expansion commissions and caucuses, as well as all strategic decisions and financial statements, must be made public on the PSF’s web site.
Powers and composition of the General Assembly
4.1 The General Assembly of the Peoples’ Social Forum brings together everyone (individuals or delegates from organizations) involved in organizing the PSF, be it through committees, expansion commissions or caucuses or through the process of mobilization and communications. The General Assembly will be the fundamental decision-making body.
General Assembly of the Peoples’ Social Forum
4.2 Assemblies of the Peoples’ Social Forum are held in the place set by the General Secretariat Committee, following consultations with the Co-ordinating Council. The General Assembly should meet at least once a year.
Notice of meeting
4.3.1 All General Assemblies are announced on the web site, by e-mail or by any other means available. Notice of meeting for an assembly should give the date, time and place of the assembly as well as the proposed agenda.
4.3.2 To facilitate the participation of all in the Assembly, in particular those who cannot attend in person, all the meetings should be held at least 30 days after the notice of meeting is sent to all potential participants (the notice of meeting must be accompanied by a detailed agenda from the General Secretariat Committee). This period of time will allow people who can’t attend the event in person to send their comments, suggestions, amendments and resolutions to the Assembly, through the General Secretariat Committee.
4.4 Quorum for a General Assembly is set at 20 people.
4.5.1 Decisions are made by consensus, or in other words by seeking general agreement among the members of the assembly. If there is disagreement, other solutions by which consensus can be reached must be found.
5.1 The Co-ordinating Council is composed of one person elected from each expansion commission and each caucus, as well as all the members of the General Secretariat Committee. It is the body that makes the decisions about the PSF’s organizational process. It monitors and follows up on the progress of the PSF’s organizational process, asking the coordinators of the various committees to report on where their work is at. It rules on disputes that may arise between committees and sets out the basic strategic lines of the PSF’s organizational process.
Meetings and conference calls or web and other forms of remote conferencing
5.2 Conference calls or web and other forms of remote conferencing of the Co-ordinating Council are organized by the General Secretariat Committee after consultations with the Council itself. There should be conference calls, web or other forms of remote conferencing at least once a month, in accordance with the decision-making and organizational requirements of the various committees, expansion commissions and caucuses.
5.3 Meetings are held at the place chosen by the General Secretariat Committee after consultations with the members of the Co-ordinating Council. There should be at least three in-person meetings of the Co-ordinating Council a year, in accordance with the decision-making and organizational requirements of the various committees, expansion commissions and caucuses.
Notice of meeting
5.3.1 All the conference calls, web or remote conferencing and meetings of the Co-ordinating Council are announced by e-mail or any other means available. Notice of meeting for conference calls, web or remote conferencing and meetings should give the date, time and place of the meeting, if appropriate, and the proposed agenda.
5.3.2 To facilitate the participation in meetings of the Co-ordinating Council, in particular those who cannot attend in person, all the meetings should be held at least 15 days after the notice of meeting is sent to all potential participants, accompanied by a detailed agenda from the General Secretariat Committee. This period of time will allow people who can’t attend the event in person to send their comments, suggestions, amendments and resolutions to the meeting through the General Secretariat Committee.
5.4 Quorum for a conference call or web or other form of remote conferencing or meeting is set at 50% of persons mandated by the expansion commissions and caucuses, with the addition of the people from the General Secretariat Committee.
5.5.1 Decisions are made by consensus, or in other words by seeking general agreement among the members of the assembly. If there is disagreement, other solutions by which consensus can be reached must be found.
6.1.1 Committees are composed of people (individuals or delegates from organizations) interested in being involved in the PSF organizational process. Each committee operates independently with respect to carrying out its tasks. It must, however, work in collaboration with the other committees in the general organizational process of the PSF and recognize the General Secretariat Committee’s coordinating role for the work as a whole.
6.1.2 In order to ensure the continuity of the PSF’s organizational process and proper coordination of tasks, a paid PSF staffperson will be assigned to the General Secretariat Committee, with the possibility of adding others if the Co-ordinating Council so agrees. These people will ensure a regular presence and response to external questions or requests (phone, mail, e-mail) and provide liaison for all internal requests among committees, the Co-ordinating Council, the expansion commissions and caucuses. These people will be paid out of funds raised for organizing the PSF and their appointment will be ratified by the Co-ordinating Council. They will work at the PSF head office.
6.1.3 With a view to consolidating the PSF organizational process while actively involving civil society organizations, we strongly urge organizations to delegate representatives (regular members, trainees or volunteers) to the various committees, the Co-ordinating Council, expansion commissions and caucuses. Making resource people available is fundamental to consolidating the PSF organization process through a sharing of our expertise and skills. We furthermore invite organizations to provide material support for the PSF, either directly through financial contributions or by making certain material resources available.
6.1.4 Each committee appoints a co-ordinator charged with ensuring follow-up on its work and representing the committee at the General Secretariat Committee. It will be preferable that this person live in the city where the Forum takes place because of the work that she or he will have to do with the General Secretariat Committee. The committee also designates a secretary whose task is to produce a report for each meeting. Each committee decides for itself how to designate these people.
6.1.5 Participation in the various committees as co-ordinator or secretary is exclusive, meaning that a person cannot play these roles for more than one committee.
The General Secretariat Committee
6.2.1 Draft notices of meeting, agendas and minutes of Co-ordinating Council meetings and General Assemblies.
6.2.2 Ensure communications among the various working committees, as well as with the Coordinating Council, expansion commissions and caucuses, ensure that the committees carry out their mandates and play a co-ordinating role for a successful PSF.
6.2.3 Manage a fully transparent PSF web site, ensuring that all relevant information is compiled and made available.
6.2.4 Keep distribution lists up to date and making them available.
6.2.5 Ensure a regular presence and response to outside requests.
6.2.6 The General Secretariat Committee will be composed of the co-ordinators of each committee and the general staff. Staff will be elected by the Co-ordinating Council.
6.2.7 It is preferable for the General Secretariat Committee to maintain a regular presence in at the PSF head office in the city where the Forum will take place.
6.2.8 Work in close collaboration with the community of indigenous peoples living on the territory where the Forum takes place in order to include and respect the protocol in force in that community.
The Communications Committee
6.3.1 Develop a national communications strategy for setting out the relevance of organizing a PSF in Canada.
6.3.2 Work in close collaboration with resource people on the various communications committees of each expansion commission and caucus, or with the various expansion commissions and caucuses if they don’t have communications committees, to gather input for its information base and promote the sharing of information among the various components of the PSF. The materials published will be distributed with the help of the web site and social media (drafting texts, interviews).
6.4.3 Draft media releases reporting on the progress of the PSF organizational process.
6.3.4 Develop and share various promotional materials (posters, logos, leaflets…) with the expansion commissions and caucuses. Expansion commissions and caucuses are free to adapt such promotional materials.
6.3.5 Be the liaison with various media (community and traditional, print, audio and audiovisual press). Special attention will be paid to alternative media.
6.3.6 Post relevant information and documents on the PSF web site.
6.3.7 Be present onblogs, social media sites and electronic media.
6.3.8 Organize media coverage of the PSF.
The Mobilization Committee
6.4.1 Develop a national mobilization strategy to foster the participation of people from all across Canada in the PSF.
6.4.2 Mobilize the expansion commissions and various caucuses to create their own mobilization, communications and finance committees.
6.4.3 Work in close collaboration with resource people on the various mobilization committees of each expansion commission and caucus, or with the various expansion commissions and caucuses if they don’t have mobilizations committees, to foster the sharing of information and promotional materials among the various components and stimulate participation and mobilization for the PSF.
6.4.4 Establish mobilization strategies, in particular for regions that are under-represented.
6.4.5 Stimulate mobilization and participation in the PSC by contacting organizations and movements likely to take part in the PSF through the distribution of promotional materials and PSF issues and by organizing mobilization activities.
6.4.6 Encourage awareness work and grassroots education about the social forum process by organizing information sessions for which the committee can draw on resources internally and externally.
6.4.7 Work in close collaboration with the Communications Committee to establish the various mobilization strategies.
6.4.8 Work in close collaboration with the Program and Communications Committees to mobilize around issues addressed by the PSF.
6.4.9. Work on mobilization in close collaboration with the Logistics Committee around possibilities for transportation and accommodations.
The Logistics Committee
6.5.1 Take charge of planning the logistics of all aspects of the PSF (facilities, food, transportation, accommodations, venues for events and cultural productions, accessibility…).
6.5.2 Look after recruiting volunteers and distributing them in accordance with their fields of interest and the needs of the PSF.
6.5.3 Promote car-pooling and solidarity-based accommodations.
6.5.4 Work in close collaboration with the host city to co-ordinate the holding of the event, but also to identify local partners to supply various requirements (e.g. audio-visual equipment) or equip and outfit meeting sites (social economy enterprises).
6.5.5 Can create ad hoc sub-committees to take charge of certain specific aspects of logistics (food, accommodations…).
6.5.6 Work in close collaboration with the Mobilization Committee, expansion commissions and caucuses, in particular with respect to transportation and accommodations.
6.5.7 Work in close collaboration with the Program Committee for infrastructure, technology and translation requirements for the PSF.
6.5.8 Plan for a parallel youth camp, working closely with the groups concerned and obtaining special permission or an exemption from the host city.
6.5.9 Look after registration of participants, booths and payments. Create an on-line payment system to facilitate the process.
The Program Committee
6.6.1 Develop the program structure for the PSF, identifying the key topics and cross-cutting themes covering the major issues, paying special attention to indigenous realities and struggles.
6.6.2 Promote, inform and explain the key topics and various cross-cutting themes chosen in order to stimulate participation and creativity.
6.6.3 Create theme and participatory spaces to encourage broader participation, convergence and shared discussion as well as networking among organizations and individuals participating in the PSF.
6.6.4 Identify the various kinds of activities that will be held at the PSF, developing a methodology (talks, workshops, discussion groups…).
6.6.5 Manage the self-programming process, dialoguing with the various participants and putting together a calendar for the event.
6.6.6 Encourage the grouping together of activities to make programming more coherent.
6.6.7 Take charge of co-managed activities (major talks/lectures), stimulating the participation of relevant speakers on the various themes addressed.
6.6.8 Work in close collaboration with the Cultural Committee of the PSF, encouraging participation and stimulating it as needed.
The Finance committee
6.7.1 Establish ethical rules for assessing the relevance of donations from private or public enterprises.
6.7.2. Work in close collaboration with the people in charge of the finance committees of expansion commissions and caucuses, in particular to facilitate ethical fund-raising.
6.7.3 Establish a schedule of rates, notably to ensure fair treatment of financial partners, as well as for the various forms of registration.
6.7.3 Prepare the PSF budget and keep it up to date.
6.7.4 Look for sources of funding.
6.7.5 Oversee finances.
The Cultural Committee
6.8.1 Take charge of the PSF’s cultural programming, taking into account the key topics and cross-cutting themes.
7.1 The expansion commissions are composed of individuals and organizations within a given territory. Each expansion commission is independent in its internal operations and respects the principles of the PSF in its work. The role of the commissions is crucial for the inclusion of a regional dynamic in the PSF.
7.2 Each commission decides for itself how to designate its roles and responsiblities to the PSF and will inform the PSF accordingly. One or more person(s) is in charged for ensuring follow-up on its work and representing the commission on the Co-ordinating Council
7.3 The PSF encourages the creation of expansion commissions in order to improve its representative nature. It is the Co-ordinating Council that recognizes a new expansion commission, following which a person mandated by that commission sits on the Coordinating Council.
7.4 The PSF encourages the creation of mobilization, communications and finance committees. Each committee works independently on carrying out the tasks assigned to it. It must, however, work in collaboration with the national committees on the general organizing process of the PSF and must recognize the co-ordinating role of the national committees in the overall work.
7.5 Expansion commissions can contribute actively to the work of the various national committees, in particular by enriching and relaying information put out by the Communications Committee, organizing information sessions, setting up distribution mechanisms, organizing transportation to facilitate participation in the PSF by individuals and organizations in the regions, supplying volunteers for the PSF, contributing to programming, be it through stimulating self-programming or proposing panelists for co-managed activities, and finally, finding funding for such activities and also more generally for the PSF.
8.1 Caucuses are grouped around common interests or struggles. Each caucus is independent in its internal operations and respects the principles of the PSF in its work. The role of caucuses is crucial for the inclusion of diverse communities in the PSF.
8.2 Each caucus decides for itself how to designate its roles and responsiblities to the PSF and will inform the PSF accordingly. One or more person(s) is in charged for ensuring follow-up on its work and representing the caucus on the Co-ordinating Council.
8.3 The PSF encourages the creation of caucuses in order to ensure that it is more representative. It is the Co-ordinating Council that recognizes a new caucus, following which a person mandated by that caucus sits on the Co-ordinating Council.
8.4 The PSF encourages the creation of mobilization, communications and finance committees. Each committee works independently on carrying out the tasks assigned to it. It must, however, work in collaboration with the national committees on the general organizing process of the PSF and must recognize the co-ordinating role of the national committees in the overall work.
8.5 Caucuses can contribute actively to the work of the various national committees, notably by enriching and relaying information put out by the Communications Committee, organizing information sessions, setting up distribution mechanisms, organizing transportation to facilitate participation in the PSF by individuals and organizations in the regions, supplying volunteers for the PSF, contributing to programming, be it through stimulating self-programming or proposing panelists for co-managed activities, and finally, finding funding for such activities and also more generally for the PSF.
9.1 With a view to facilitating fund-raising and the administrative management of the PSF (financial responsibility in the event of debt, signing contracts with suppliers of services on the event site, negotiating with local, regional and national authorities, applying for a pay subsidy for secretariat staff, facilitating the creation of a real head office…), it is important, in addition to the various organizational arrangements set out above, to constitute a legal entity (a non-profit organization, or NPO). The creation of this parallel entity is simply designed to facilitate the organization of the PSF. The members designated for this facilitating group will not have any decision-making authority on their own.
9.2 To give legal status to the PSF organizational structure (under the name of Towards a PSF Initiative), the Coordinating Council should elect a president, secretary and treasurer from within its ranks.
9.3 The secretary should come from the General Secretariat Committee and the treasurer from the Finance Committee.
9.4 The persons elected president and treasurer have signing authority for banking documents. In the absence of either one, the secretary is authorized to sign.
9.5 Contracts and other documents requiring the group’s signature are first approved by the Co-ordinating Council in response to a proposal from the committees concerned. Following this approval, contracts are signed by two of the officers (president, secretary or treasurer).
10.1 The General Assembly has the authority to rescind or amend any provision of these bylaws. Any amendment to the charter must be adopted by consensus of the members present at the assembly. Notice of motion must be sent to members 30 days before the assembly is held, indicating the subject of the amendments.
The committee of Brazilian organizations that conceived of, and organized, the first World Social Forum, held in Porto Alegre from January 25th to 30th, 2001, after evaluating the results of that Forum and the expectations it raised, consider it necessary and legitimate to draw up a Charter of Principles to guide the continued pursuit of that initiative. While the principles contained in this Charter – to be respected by all those who wish to take part in the process and to organize new editions of the World Social Forum – are a consolidation of the decisions that presided over the holding of the Porto Alegre Forum and ensured its success, they extend the reach of those decisions and define orientations that flow from their logic
1. The World Social Forum is an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neoliberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a planetary society directed towards fruitful relationships among Humankind and between it and the Earth.
2. The World Social Forum at Porto Alegre was an event localised in time and place. From now on, in the certainty proclaimed at Porto Alegre that “Another World Is Possible”, it becomes a permanent process of seeking and building alternatives, which cannot be reduced to the events supporting it.
3. The World Social Forum is a world process. All the meetings that are held as part of this process have an international dimension.
4. The alternatives proposed at the World Social Forum stand in opposition to a process of capitalist globalization commanded by the large multinational corporations and by the governments and international institutions at the service of those corporations’ interests, with the complicity of national governments. They are designed to ensure that globalization in solidarity will prevail as a new stage in world history. This will respect universal human rights, and those of all citizens – men and women – of all nations and the environment and will rest on democratic international systems and institutions at the service of social justice, equality and the sovereignty of peoples.
5. The World Social Forum brings together and interlinks only organizations and movements of civil society from all the countries in the world, but it does not intend to be a body representing world civil society.
6. The meetings of the World Social Forum do not deliberate on behalf of the World Social Forum as a body. No-one, therefore, will be authorized, on behalf of any of the editions of the Forum, to express positions claiming to be those of all its participants. The participants in the Forum shall not be called on to take decisions as a body, whether by vote or acclamation, on declarations or proposals for action that would commit all, or the majority, of them and that propose to be taken as establishing positions of the Forum as a body. It thus does not constitute a locus of power to be disputed by the participants in its meetings, nor does it intend to constitute the only option for interrelation and action by the organizations and movements that participate in it.
7. Nonetheless, organizations or groups of organizations that participate in the Forums meetings must be assured the right, during such meetings, to deliberate on declarations or actions they may decide on, whether singly or in coordination with other participants. The World Social Forum undertakes to circulate such decisions widely by the means at its disposal, without directing, hierarchizing, censuring or restricting them, but as deliberations of the organizations or groups of organizations that made the decisions.
8. The World Social Forum is a plural, diversified, non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party context that, in a decentralized fashion, interrelates organizations and movements engaged in concrete action at levels from the local to the international to build another world.
9. The World Social Forum will always be a forum open to pluralism and to the diversity of activities and ways of engaging of the organizations and movements that decide to participate in it, as well as the diversity of genders, ethnicities, cultures, generations and physical capacities, providing they abide by this Charter of Principles. Neither party representations nor military organizations shall participate in the Forum. Government leaders and members of legislatures who accept the commitments of this Charter may be invited to participate in a personal capacity.
10. The World Social Forum is opposed to all totalitarian and reductionist views of economy, development and history and to the use of violence as a means of social control by the State. It upholds respect for Human Rights, the practices of real democracy, participatory democracy, peaceful relations, in equality and solidarity, among people, ethnicities, genders and peoples, and condemns all forms of domination and all subjection of one person by another.
11. As a forum for debate, the World Social Forum is a movement of ideas that prompts reflection, and the transparent circulation of the results of that reflection, on the mechanisms and instruments of domination by capital, on means and actions to resist and overcome that domination, and on the alternatives proposed to solve the problems of exclusion and social inequality that the process of capitalist globalization with its racist, sexist and environmentally destructive dimensions is creating internationally and within countries.
12. As a framework for the exchange of experiences, the World Social Forum encourages understanding and mutual recognition among its participant organizations and movements, and places special value on the exchange among them, particularly on all that society is building to centre economic activity and political action on meeting the needs of people and respecting nature, in the present and for future generations.
13. As a context for interrelations, the World Social Forum seeks to strengthen and create new national and international links among organizations and movements of society, that – in both public and private life – will increase the capacity for non-violent social resistance to the process of dehumanization the world is undergoing and to the violence used by the State, and reinforce the humanizing measures being taken by the action of these movements and organizations.
14. The World Social Forum is a process that encourages its participant organizations and movements to situate their actions, from the local level to the national level and seeking active participation in international contexts, as issues of planetary citizenship, and to introduce onto the global agenda the change-inducing practices that they are experimenting in building a new world in solidarity.
Approved and adopted in São Paulo, on April 9, 2001, by the organizations that make up the World Social Forum Organizing Committee, approved with modifications by the World Social Forum International Council on June 10, 2001.
Resolution adopted by the General Assembly
[without reference to a main committee (A/61/L.67 and Add._)]
61/295. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The General Assembly,
Taking note of the recommendation of the Human Rights Council contained in its resolution 1/2 of 29 June 2006,1 by which the Council adopted the text of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,
Recalling its resolution 61/178 of 20 December 2006, by which it decided to defer consideration of and action on the Declaration to allow time for further consultations thereon, and also decided to conclude its consideration before the end of the sixty-first session of the General Assembly,
Adopts the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as contained in the annex to the present resolution.
107th plenary meeting
13 September 2007
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The General Assembly,
Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and good faith in the fulfilment of the obligations assumed by States in accordance with the Charter,
Affirming that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such,
Affirming also that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind,
Affirming further that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust,
Reaffirming that indigenous peoples, in the exercise of their rights, should be free from discrimination of any kind,
Concerned that indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests,
Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands,
Recognizing also the urgent need to respect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements with States,
Welcoming the fact that indigenous peoples are organizing themselves for political, economic, social and cultural enhancement and in order to bring to an end all forms of discrimination and oppression wherever they occur,
Convinced that control by indigenous peoples over developments affecting them and their lands, territories and resources will enable them to maintain and strengthen their institutions, cultures and traditions, and to promote their development in accordance with their aspirations and needs,
Recognizing that respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contributes to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the environment,
Emphasizing the contribution of the demilitarization of the lands and territories of indigenous peoples to peace, economic and socialprogress and development, understanding and friendly relations among nations and peoples of the world,
Recognizing in particular the right of indigenous families and communities to retain shared responsibility for the upbringing, training, education and well-being of their children, consistent with the rights of the child,
Considering that the rights affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements between States and indigenous peoples are, in some situations, matters of international concern, interest, responsibility and character,
Considering also that treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, and the relationship they represent, are the basis for a strengthened partnership between indigenous peoples and States,
Acknowledging that the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights2 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, affirm the fundamental importance of the right to self-determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development,
Bearing in mind that nothing in this Declaration may be used to deny any peoples their right to self-determination, exercised in conformity with international law,
Convinced that the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in this Declaration will enhance harmonious and cooperative relations between the State and indigenous peoples, based on principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith,
Encouraging States to comply with and effectively implement all their obligations as they apply to indigenous peoples under international instruments, in particular those related to human rights, in consultation and cooperation with the peoples concerned,
Emphasizing that the United Nations has an important and continuing role to play in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples,
Believing that this Declaration is a further important step forward for the recognition, promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples and in the development of relevant activities of the United Nations system in this field,
Recognizing and reaffirming that indigenous individuals are entitled without discrimination to all human rights recognized in international law, and that indigenous peoples possess collective rights which are indispensable for their existence, well-being and integral development as peoples,
Recognizing that the situation of indigenous peoples varies from region to region and from country to country and that the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical and cultural backgrounds should be taken into consideration,
Solemnly proclaims the following United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect:
Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights4 and international human rights law.
Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.
Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.
Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.
1. Indigenous individuals have the rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person.
2. Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group.
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration;
(e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.
Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right.
Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
2. States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.
2. States shall seek to enable the access and/or repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in their possession through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected and also to ensure that indigenous peoples can understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative proceedings, where necessary through the provision of interpretation or by other appropriate means.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.
2. Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination.
3. States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information.
2. States shall take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that State-owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity. States, without prejudice to ensuring full freedom of expression, should encourage privately owned media to adequately reflect indigenous cultural diversity.
1. Indigenous individuals and peoples have the right to enjoy fully all rights established under applicable international and domestic labour law.
2. States shall in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples take specific measures to protect indigenous children from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development, taking into account their special vulnerability and the importance of education for their empowerment.
3. Indigenous individuals have the right not to be subjected to any discriminatory conditions of labour and, inter alia, employment or salary.
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decisionmaking institutions.
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities.
2. Indigenous peoples deprived of their means of subsistence and development are entitled to just and fair redress.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security.
2. States shall take effective measures and, where appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities.
1. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the implementation of this Declaration.
2. States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.
Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous individuals also have the right to access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services.
2. Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States shall take the necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of this right.
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.
States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.
2. Unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples concerned, compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources equal in quality, size and legal status or of monetary compensation or other appropriate redress.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.
3. States shall also take effective measures to ensure, as needed, that programmes for monitoring, maintaining and restoring the health of indigenous peoples, as developed and implemented by the peoples affected by such materials, are duly implemented.
1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned.
2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for military activities.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.
2. In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.
2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions. This does not impair the right of indigenous individuals to obtain citizenship of the States in which they live.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the structures and to select the membership of their institutions in accordance with their own procedures.
Indigenous peoples have the right to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they exist, juridical systems or customs, in accordance with international human rights standards.
Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the responsibilities of individuals to their communities.
1. Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as other peoples across borders.
2. States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take effective measures to facilitate the exercise and ensure the implementation of this right.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration.
Indigenous peoples have the right to have access to financial andtechnical assistance from States and through international cooperation, for the enjoyment of the rights contained in this Declaration.
Indigenous peoples have the right to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights. Such a decision shall give due consideration to the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of the indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights.
The organs and specialized agencies of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations shall contribute to the full realization of the provisions of this Declaration through the mobilization, inter alia, of financial cooperation and technical assistance. Ways and means of ensuring participation of indigenous peoples on issues affecting them shall be established.
The United Nations, its bodies, including the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and specialized agencies, including at the country level, and States shall promote respect for and full application of the provisions of this Declaration and follow up the effectiveness of this Declaration.
The rights recognized herein constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.
All the rights and freedoms recognized herein are equally guaranteed to male and female indigenous individuals.
Nothing in this Declaration may be construed as diminishing or extinguishing the rights indigenous peoples have now or may acquire in the future.
1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States.
2. In the exercise of the rights enunciated in the present Declaration, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all shall be respected. The exercise of the rights set forth in this Declaration shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law and in accordance with international human rights obligations. Any such limitations shall be non-discriminatory and strictly necessary solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for meeting the just and most compelling requirements of a democratic society.
3. The provisions set forth in this Declaration shall be interpreted in accordance with the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and good faith.
April 27, 2010
This Declaration was adopted by the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, in Bolivia. The Bolivian government has submitted it to the United Nations for consideration.
We, the peoples and nations of Earth:
considering that we are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny;
gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth is the source of life, nourishment and learning and provides everything we need to live well;
recognizing that the capitalist system and all forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change;
convinced that in an interdependent living community it is not possible to recognize the rights of only human beings without causing an imbalance within Mother Earth;
affirming that to guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and all beings in her and that there are existing cultures, practices and laws that do so;
conscious of the urgency of taking decisive, collective action to transform structures and systems that cause climate change and other threats to Mother Earth;
proclaim this Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and call on the General Assembly of the United Nation to adopt it, as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations of the world, and to the end that every individual and institution takes responsibility for promoting through teaching, education, and consciousness raising, respect for the rights recognized in this Declaration and ensure through prompt and progressive measures and mechanisms, national and international, their universal and effective recognition and observance among all peoples and States in the world.
Article 1. Mother Earth
(1) Mother Earth is a living being.
(2) Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.
(3) Each being is defined by its relationships as an integral part of Mother Earth.
(4) The inherent rights of Mother Earth are inalienable in that they arise from the same source as existence.
(5) Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.
(6) Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.
(7) The rights of each being are limited by the rights of other beings and any conflict between their rights must be resolved in a way that maintains the integrity, balance and health of Mother Earth.
Article 2. Inherent Rights of Mother Earth
(1) Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights:
(a) the right to life and to exist;
(b) the right to be respected;
(c) the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions;
(d) the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;
(e) the right to water as a source of life;
(f) the right to clean air;
(g) the right to integral health;
(h) the right to be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;
(i) the right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted in a manner that threatens it integrity or vital and healthy functioning;
(j) the right to full and prompt restoration the violation of the rights recognized in this Declaration caused by human activities;
(2) Each being has the right to a place and to play its role in Mother Earth for her harmonious functioning.
(3) Every being has the right to wellbeing and to live free from torture or cruel treatment by human beings.
Article 3. Obligations of human beings to Mother Earth
(1) Every human being is responsible for respecting and living in harmony with Mother Earth.
(2) Human beings, all States, and all public and private institutions must:
(a) act in accordance with the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;
(b) recognize and promote the full implementation and enforcement of the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;
(c) promote and participate in learning, analysis, interpretation and communication about how to live in harmony with Mother Earth in accordance with this Declaration;
(d) ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth, now and in the future;
(e) establish and apply effective norms and laws for the defence, protection and conservation of the rights of Mother Earth;
(f) respect, protect, conserve and where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles, processes and balances of Mother Earth;
(g) guarantee that the damages caused by human violations of the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration are rectified and that those responsible are held accountable for restoring the integrity and health of Mother Earth;
(h) empower human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings;
(i) establish precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles;
(j) guarantee peace and eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;
(k) promote and support practices of respect for Mother Earth and all beings, in accordance with their own cultures, traditions and customs;
(l) promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.
Article 4. Definitions
(1) The term “being” includes ecosystems, natural communities, species and all other natural entities which exist as part of Mother Earth.
(2) Nothing in this Declaration restricts the recognition of other inherent rights of all beings or specified beings.