Lungos takes part in civil society gathering


Mr Lalande addressing the forum

Held from March 26-30, the world social forum (WSF) is an annual meeting of civil society organisations, first held in Brazil, offering a self-conscious effort to develop an alternative future through the championing of alternative answers to world problems and providing visionary ideas for development.

The WSF is known to be a physical manifestation of global civil society as it brings together non-governmental organisations, advocacy campaigns as well as formal and informal social movements seeking international solidarity.

The WSF prefers to define itself as "an open space – plural, diverse, non-governmental and non-partisan – that stimulates the decentralised debate, reflection, proposals building, experiences exchange and alliances among movements and organisations engaged in concrete actions towards a more solidarity, democratic and fair world, a permanent space and process to build alternatives to neoliberalism.

Most of the people who attended are supporters of the global justice movement who come together to coordinate global campaigns, share and refine organising strategies, and inform each other about movements from around the world and their particular issues.

It tends to meet just before or after the world economic forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This date is consciously picked to promote alternative answers to world economic problems in contrast to the world economic forum.

Steve Lalande, who was at the forum representing Lungos as a board member of the International Forum of Platforms (IFP) based in Paris, made presentations to a large audience on the theme of ‘Developing National Civil Society Platforms’ where he described the rational of civil society as a pillar of development, next to the government and private sector and the services offered by NGO umbrella organisations.

“I realised that with our meagre resources and smallness in size compared to many larger countries, Lungos is doing a lot as the national umbrella organisation for NGOS,” said Mr Lalande.

He recalled a particular session he attended which he considers may be of interest to Seychelles. This is the successful campaigns to induce the governments of the European Union, United States of America and other countries to address issues of “taxation” called tax justice network.

The tax justice network is led by economists, tax and financial professionals, accountants, lawyers, academics and writers, and describe themselves as driven by original research and ideas.
Their website refers: “The tax justice network promotes transparency in international finance and opposes secrecy. We support a level playing field on tax and we oppose loopholes and distortions in tax and regulation, and the abuses that flow from them. We promote tax compliance and we oppose tax evasion, tax avoidance, and all the mechanisms that enable owners and controllers of wealth to escape their responsibilities to the societies on which they and their wealth depend. Tax havens, or secrecy jurisdictions as we prefer to call them, lie at the centre of our concerns, and we oppose them.”

“As I listened to them speak, I understood more clearly of the idea they are advocating for, had the money been taxed, it could have been used for development purposes. I believe that there is some merit in this point of view, since development aid and social welfare funds are shrinking globally but I am also equally aware that this could have a commercial impact on our delicate offshore sector,” said Mr Lalande.

Mr Lalande also attended sessions describing many issues after the Tunisian revolution and the concept of ‘transitional justice’ for atrocities committed by the previous regime which human rights lawyers are advocating for.

The WSF is an interesting breeding ground for new awareness and citizens’ emancipation, therefore more Seychellois should try to take part in the next event, he said.