The World Peace Forum Society was founded to organize the World Peace Forum in 2006. This Vancouver gathering drew five thousand activists to a myriad of discussions and events focusing on how to make the world a better place. The theme of the 2006 event was “Cities and Communities: Working together to end war and build a peaceful, just and sustainable world.” In the Forum’s final communiqué, The Vancouver Declaration, it stated “In 2006 the world confronts the illegal war and occupation in Iraq, racism and the erosion of civil liberties, renewed nuclear threats, and global warming… The world faces massive poverty, homelessness, rising rates of disease and increasing economic inequality coupled with unprecedented military spending.” Sadly, all of these are still with us, and getting worse.
In light of this, where do we go from here? Have we been decisively defeated or is there hope for the future? We believe that there are a number of signs that activists seeking to work in the spirit of The Vancouver Declaration can look at and even find limited reasons for optimism. These include the election of a ‘man of the left’ as leader of the British Labour Party; the Sanders Campaign in the United States which has spoken the ‘S word’ (socialism) in public for the first time in many years; an almost unanimous recognition that climate change is caused by human activity; the opposition of hundreds of thousands of activists to racist and xenophobic vitriol against immigrants and refugees seeking asylum in Europe; the election of the Liberal government in Canada, which, stealing much of the program of the Left, has filed off a number of the sharper edges of the Harper agenda; and the fact that neo-liberalism appears to have been a passing phase in capitalist economic and social policy and is now in crisis with various neo-Keynesian policies being adopted.
While none of this goes far enough, and while attacks on civil and workers’ rights are still in full flood, fight backs are still a part of the political scene everywhere. New ideas, and in some cases good old ideas, are being proposed – ideas that are in the spirit of the World Peace Forum, the various Social Forums and other progressive and potentially anti-capitalist assemblies and movements.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the World Peace Forum, we want to look at the current national and international situation and pay special attention to movements of resistance.