BUKO (Federal coordination of internationalism)
Due to its pluralistic character and its open form of organisation BUKO is a common forum of social movements and international solidarity movements today, located at Germany. It is less of an umbrella organisation of member groups, more of a network of initiatives, groups and persons within the critical branch of the international protest movement. They use BUKO and its annual congress to discuss the ambivalances of the movement. The issues are mostly criticism and reflection of international relations, debates and political concepts that ignore criticism of domination. A world of humiliating living conditions, racism, sexism, poverty, destruction of livelihoods and many more consequences of structural violence shall be contrasted by the search for emancipatory alternatives.
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BUKO TURNS 30
At the Leipzig congress 2006 the "Bundeskoordination Internationalismus" (federal coordination of internationalism - BUKO) celebrates it's 30th anniversary. Time to look back on the long and multifaceted history of the movement. 30 years ago BUKO was founded in Munich under the name of "Bundeskongress entwicklungspolitischer Aktionsgruppen" (federal congress of action groups in development politics). The initiative for it's foundation came from the ministry of development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit - BMZ) (sic!).
What seems incredible today can be understood taking the historical background in the 70s into account: Back then there existed lots of initiatives, committees and groups in Western Germany working in solidarity ?with? national and regional liberation movements against discrimination and political oppression ?in the south?. The issues were socialist and "third way" revolutions, anti-colonial struggles, alternative economies and a just integration in world markets via Fair Trade and project work, protesting and scandalizing the issues publicly, and many more. The BMZ ministry wanted to profit from the competency and also the contacts that these groups had built. In exchange it offered financial support and a coordination of the initiatives that worked more or less isolated from each other before. Nevertheless the relationship between the BMZ ministry resp. the government in general and BUKO never was undisputed.
Several factors led to a development in BUKO - that partly was highly controversial as well -that resulted in a shift of focus away from development politics towards a modern understanding of internationalism. In 2002 BUKO changed its name to account for the new focus. Amongst the reasons for these developments is the breakdown of the so-called soviet block. The national liberation movements, which were the focus of the BUKO groups, lacked a critical precondition for their success ever after. Another aspect is the process of globalization increasingly reaching the countries of the north and thereby changing the basic framework in which solidarity and internationalist work takes place. While many of the oldschool solidarity groups dissolved in the 90s and others continued their work in more professionalized structures, the first-hand experience of the negative effects of globalization ?in the north? becomes more similar to the one "in the south", thereby creating new starting points for common struggles.
These changes in everyday life conditions correspond to new forms of political organization. Spontaneous mobilization, campaigning and networking gain importance over fixed group and organization structures - around here at least. Since the middle of the 90s a broad and multifaceted resistance against capitalist globalization arose - almost unnoticed by BUKO at first. These protests show that: With a shift in meaning and paradigm, resistance continues worldwide.
These changes are reflected very clearly in BUKO. Because of its pluralistic character and its open form of organization BUKO today is a common forum of social movements and international solidarity movements. It is less of an umbrella organization of member groups, more of a network of initiatives, groups and persons within the domination critical branch of the international protest movement. They use BUKO and its annual congress to discuss the ambivalences of the movement.
The issues are mostly critique and reflexion of international relations, debates and political concepts that ignore critique of domination. A world of humiliating degrading living conditions, racism, sexism, poverty, destruction of livelihoods and many more consequences of structural violence shall be contrasted by the search for emancipatory alternatives. The success of BUKO as an internationalist project depends on the continuous work of lots of groups and persons. Working in and as a network is complicated. Many people need to get involved and questions concerning transparency, possibilities and limits of co-determination and cooperation have to be given new answers constantly. While BUKO could rely on a system of member groups and delegates earlier, these will be replaced by new ways of participation and legitimation in the future - to stay open for new ways of political intervention. Everyone from the broad spectrum of BUKO is invited to participate in this process!