Purpose of the Social Forum
The Social Forum is an annual meeting convened by the Human Rights Council. It is a unique space for open and interactive dialogue between civil society, representatives of Member States, and intergovernmental organizations, on a theme chosen by the Council each year.
In setting the theme and focus of discussion for each Forum, the Human Rights Council underlines the importance of coordinated efforts at national, regional and international levels. One of the key goals of the Forum is to promote social cohesion based on the principles of social justice, equity and solidarity as well as addressing the social dimension and challenges of the ongoing globalization process.
The debates are steered by a Chairperson-Rapporteur, appointed every year by the Human Rights Council from candidates nominated by regional groups. This person is responsible for leading the discussions.
The Social Forum is open to:
- Member States of the United Nations;
- intergovernmental organizations;
- different components of the United Nations system;
- mandate holders of thematic procedures and mechanisms;
- regional economic commissions and specialized agencies and organizations;
- representatives designated by national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council;
- other non-governmental organizations whose aims and purposes are in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations;
- newly emerging actors, such as small groups and rural and urban associations from the North and the South, peasants' and farmers' organizations and their national and international associations, voluntary organizations, environmental organizations and activists, youth associations, community organizations, trade unions and associations of workers; and
- representatives of the private sector.
In the past, the Social Forum has focused on human rights in the context of issues such as poverty, youth, education, sport, epidemics, health, disability, development, climate change and more.
all past sessions for the full list of themes.
Guide to the Social Forum: a practical guide for civil society (PDF)