The People’s Dialogue (PD) is an initiative at an African –Latin American level that aims to contribute towards the development and construction of a methodology that can facilitate dialogue amongst organisations and movements in the global south. Obstacles to dialogue, solidarity and collective action are not only hindered by physical geography but also by centuries and decades of colonialism, imperialism and globalisation. Issues of language, culture, history, geo-politics, coloniality and resources have created deep schisms between peoples and movements. International and global networks, coalitions and movements exist but often lack the time and space to learn about each other, to learn from each other in order to deal with the impact of neo-liberal globalisation. Thus the ability to act together is overshadowed by other more immediate demands of the movements and networks etc.
It is necessary to locate the People’s Dialogue in the past decade of mounting resistance to neo-liberalism that characterised the development agenda of 1990s and the first decade of the 21st Century. The agenda and dialogues that have been facilitated by the PD can be very closely associated with the World Social Forum and the attempt to image alternatives to the dominant neo-liberal paradigm. In that way, one can describe the People’s Dialogue as a microcosm of the WSF that has as one of its objective the construction and development of a methodology that can contribute to building a new solidarity, new forms of resistance, new internationalism and a new hope.
This is the sixth year of the PD, and although a relatively young and small initiative, significant gains and insights have been made during this time. The PD is co-ordinated across three centres of the Global South; Brazil, South Africa and Mozambique. During the past three year - cycle 2008 to 2010 - over sixty organisations, movements and institutions have participated in the dialogues initiated by the PD. Most of the dialogues have been constructed around the themes related to the defence of our “common grounds”, movements building and deepening the understanding in the global south of neo-liberal globalisation (read our document "Africa and Latin America People’s Dialogue: an experience in progress to build political and intercultural dialogue")
The People’s Dialogue (PD) is multi-layered, cross-sectional, global initiative that brings together activists, leaders, scholars, farmers, academics into a common space on an equal basis in a process of deep reflection and dialogue. It is an organised space where the participants come together to share their experiences and perspectives in developing alternatives to neoliberal globalisation. Discussions are organised to ensure deep reflection on processes in our respective regions, countries and movements with the aim of developing deeper understandings and lessons for greater solidarity in action.
The construction of a dialogue-methodology, which takes into account different realities, histories and experiences, and allows the global South to build strong solidarity is at the centre of the initiative. The vision of a globalisation from below built on the solidarity of peoples movements is dependent on developing a methodology that facilitates and transcends the barriers of colonial histories, cultures, political systems and not least language.
The Peoples Dialogue poses the question “how do we construct a global justice movement capable of serving as a democratic and participatory counter-hegemony?” Put differently, the most important issue that motivated the existence of the PD was the predatory, extractive, exploitative and destructive impacts of globalised capitalism against humanity and nature, which represent a significant crisis of civilisation. It is not just one crisis in the financial system or food system but generalised crises affecting the fundamental foundations of society. PD participants shares the view that the public features of these crises are an expression of more profound crises in occidental civilisation.
Co-ordination and Structure
The PD is an open structure where movements and social partners participate depending on the theme, process or the activity. In the previous phase over 50 movements and organisations participated on an on-going basis. This was remarkable given that PD is not a issue-based network.
There is a reference group who develops the plans, programmes and strategic direction – the members are drawn from Latin America and Africa. It is a voluntary process. The current committee is made up of social movements, women’s organisations, peasant unions, NGOs, research groups, small farmers’ networks.
The secretariat is located in three centres and consists of three organisations: i) IBASE (Brazilian Institute for Economic and Social Analysis) in Brazil; ii) TCOE (Trust for Community Outreach and Education) in South Africa; iii) UNAC (National Union of Mozambiquican Peasants) in Mozambique
The members of the reference group are the following organizations:
- tCAOI – Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas – Peru
- Articulación Feminista MarcoSur - Uruguay
- MMC – Movimiento de Mujeres Campesinas de Brasil – Brazil
- ANAMURI – Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas de Chile – Chile
- Grito de los Excluidos Continental – Centroamerica
- Coalición Internacional Habitat -America Latina -México-
- Grupo de Estudios sobre America Latina – Argentina
- IBASE – Instituto Brasileno de Analisis Social y Económico – Brazil
- UNAC – National Union of Peasants of Mozambique – Mozambique
- ESAFF – East and Southern African Farmers Forum – Southern Africa and Kenya
- NNFU- Namibia National Small Farmers Union – Namibia
- NASFAM – National Small Farmers Union of Malawi – Malawi
- Women on Farms – South Africa
- AIAS – Africa Institute for Agrarian Studies – Zimbabwe
- TCOE – Trust for Community Outreach and Education – South Africa