South People's Solidarity Network conference

On July 5-8, activists from Southern countries gathered for the South-South People’s Solidarity Network (SSPSN) in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Taking up the theme “Development Paradigms and Strategy for Action–Response from the South”, the conference was organised by the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) and the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation (VPDF), which was sponsored by Action Aid International (AAI). The previous conference was held in Hanoi in 2007.

Around 28 people attended representing people’s organisations in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Attending from Indonesia was myself from Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women), Mahendra from the Working People’s Association, Salammudin Daeng from the Institute for Global Justice and Amalia Pulungan from the Indonesian Farmers alliance.

The three-day conference was opened by Venezuelan Ambassador to Malaysia Manuel Antonio who conveyed his support for the Southern countries’ struggle.

The first day was divided into two sessions, the first being on the theme “Analysis of The World Situation Today, Nature and Root Causes of Crises”, with speakers Tran Dac Loi, the Vice President of the VPDF, and Mamdouh Habashi from the Arab African Research Centre.

The second session was on alternative socio-economic development paradigms and policies with PSM central committee member Jeyakumar Devaraj, Tina Ebro from the Institute for Popular Democracy, Sandeep Chanchra from AAI, Thoman Deve and Linus Jayatilake from the United Federation of Labour.

The second day was also divided into two sessions, the first on the theme “Analysis of Challenges and Opportunities for Southern Countries”, with speakers Jorge Romano from AAI, Sonny Melencio from the Philippines Party of Laboring Masses and E.A Vidyasekera from the Afro-Asia People’s Solidarity Organisation. The second session on the SSPSN action plan was devoted to discussion on international issues such as the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum to be held in Hanoi in September, the Dakar World Social Forum in 2011 and the Asia-Europe Peoples’ Forum in October.

A number of interesting issues emerged during the forum such as discussions on an alternative development model in the context of resisting imperialist polices that damage Southern countries, although no conclusion was reached as to what such an alternative model would be. Also discussed was how to involve peoples’ organisations in the Northern countries in the fight against imperialism.

The conference closed with the formulation of a joint action plan for 2010-11, “working towards a progressive value based society, promoting dialogue on political instruments to take our work forward... development or compilation of case studies, supplementing the national development strategies question and dignity for all, unpacking the new imperialism question and land and peasant question”.

[Vivi Widyawati is the international relations officer for the Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women) National Network for Women’s Liberation (JNPM) and a member of the Political Committee of the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD).]