Between 26 and 30 March, the World Social Forum 2013 took place in Tunis. At the major event, organised in the country where the Arab Revolutions started in 2010, SOLIDAR officially launched its new cooperation network initiative for Social Justice in the Middle East and North Africa. Besides the network launch, SOLIDAR and the Global Progressive Forum jointly organisedsix workshops on Social Justice, Democratic Transition and Human Rights, Women’s Rights, Tax Justice, Youth Unemployment and International Trade.
In several of the workshops the importance was stressed to build a progressive network of organisations from both the North and the South of the Mediterranean, including trade unions, NGOs, think tanks, CSOs and political movements. In his closing remarks at the "Progressive Forces Mobilising for Social Justice" workshop, SOLIDAR Secretary General Conny Reuter stated that "building social justice can only happen when people, civil society, progressives and labor movement stand together". UK MEP and PES Vice-President Jan Royall joined the event and highlighted in her intervention that progressive collaborations are a prerequisite if democracy is to thrive in Tunisia and the rest of the region. Véronique de Keyer, Vice-President of the S&D group, underlined that the mobilising and uniting driving factor behind the revolutions was a loud and clear call for social justice and dignity.
The revolutions in the MENA region opened a new social and political space. Without progressive movements building networks and joining efforts, we face the risk that extremist religious forces invade this newly created space and impede that these current times of transition offer an opportunity to build more equality, true democracy and social justice. As Mustpaha Ben Jaffar, President of Constitutional Assembly, stated : "There is a historic chance". And we should not miss it from our side !