Norwegian Social Forum meets the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI)

16 May 2019

The Norwegian Social Forum is held in Oslo every two years, bringing together 70 organisations and networks struggling for a world where people, society and the environment are placed above economical profit. The next edition will take place in 2020. Ole Pedersen, the International coordinator of this Forum, accepted to give us an interview about this national social forum.

A few words on the Norwegian Social Forum…

The roots of the Norwegian Social Forum go back to 1997 when a national network was created to fight the “Multilateral Agreement on Investments – MAI”. In 1998 this network was formalized, and in 2002 it endorsed the charter of the World Social Forum.

The Norwegian Social Forum has interdependent goals:

  • to bring together groups that normally don’t work together, in order for them to build alliances and exchange freely;
  • to create a platform for strengthen solidarity networks;
  • it also aims to bring a perspective from the Global South into the Norwegian discussions.

It is important to raise awareness inside and outside Norway, on how Norwegian political and economical interests are affecting the world, especially in terms of extractivism and fisheries, but also other activities, and to contribute to the reflexion on how activists could deal with them.

I believe that the regional and local forums, as well as the thematic forums, are what keep the process of WSF alive and vibrant these days. What is essential is not to have a local forum but rather a multilayered platform for convergence of civil society on a global scale.

We call for people struggling for their rights against norwegian economical interests, that is to say victims of land eviction environmental degradation and other negative consequences of Norwegian activity, to get in touch with the Norwegian Social Forum and have their story heard.

You collaborate closely with the Iraqi Civil Society, and more particularly with the Iraqi Social Forum. Can you tell us about this friendship?

This international coalition was born in Italy in 2009 through the initiative of international and Iraqi NGOs, social movements and workers’ unions. In January 2019, the Norwegian delegation went to Baghdad to celebrate those 10 years of solidarity. this occasion, the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) held four days of conferences and strategic planning meetings focused on the challenges facing Iraqi society. Since the anti-war protests of 2003, Baghdad had not witnessed the presence of so many internationals in the so-called “Red Zone”, without armed surveillance, standing in solidarity with Iraqi human rights and peace activists.

Both parties agree on the importance of maintaining this collaboration in order to strengthen the mutual support of social movements in both countries, to promote solidarity, and to advance further in the spirit of the World Social Forum globally.

For more information about the Norwegian Social Forum please visit: on the Iraqi Social Forum, please visit: