Conference of Solidarity Support Organizations

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Conference of Solidarity Support Organizations (CSSO) is an organisation aimed at uniting groups with the common purpose of supporting the trade union Solidarnosc, and human rights in Poland. Member organizations have agreed to the CSSO Letter of Agreement (Media:CSSO Letter of Agreement.pdf) which was adopted January 8/9, 1983.

History[edit]

The CSSO emerged from a series of informal inter-organizational meetings throughout 1982 among Solidarity support organizations. These meetings provided opportunities for establishing personal contacts, sharing ideas, resources and experiences, and cooperation on specific actions or programs. An informal network of trust emerged, and the meetings developed a momentum of their own. To provide a somewhat more formal basis for cooperation, and to increase both the reality and perception of solidarity among Solidarity support organizations, an agreement between organizations, the CSSO Letter of Agreement (Media:CSSO Letter of Agreement.pdf) was adopted on January 8/9, 1983.

To join the CSSO, organizations had to ratify the CSSO Letter of Agreement which did require a commitment to support of the Independent Self-governing Trade Union (ISTU) Solidarity [NSZZ Solidarnosc] in Poland, and it required the recognition of the Coordinating Office Abroad of NSZZ Solidarnosc (based in Brussels, Belgium) as the international department and representation outside Poland of the TKK (Temporary Coordinating Committee of NSZZ Solidarnosc), the underground leadership of ISTU Solidarity. However, this did not prohibit the organizations’ supporting initiatives that were not part of the Solidarity trade union, nor did it require them to support the Brussels office, nor proscribe any other links or channels with Solidarity.

The CSSO is best described as an ongoing process of consultation and exchange of ideas and experiences, and organizations which joined the CSSO simply committed themselves to participate in this process. This commitment essentially consisted of participation in CSSO meetings by sending representatives or written material and consideration of joint CSSO resolutions and actions, as well as maintaining liaison and harmonious relations with other CSSO organizations. The extent of expenditure of funds and efforts on such activities was left to the discretion of the Participating Organizations.

In essence the CSSO was not an organization, but rather an agreement among autonomous organizations. Each organization that subscribed to the agreement maintained full autonomy. The Coordinating Committee of the CSSO and its elected administrators had no executive powers. They could only recommend to the CSSO Participating Organizations and participation in any CSSO action or program was strictly voluntary. The purpose was to provide a mechanism that would maximize inter-organizational communication, consultation, and cooperation, with minimal constraints on the organizations’ autonomy and minimal bureaucratic structure. Although there was one failed attempt to give the CSSO a more formal structure at the 1988 meeting in Paris, the agreement crafted in 1983 seemed to be a most effective formula as the CSSO ultimately grew to encompass 46 organizations in 13 countries and 5 continents. (There were also a few that became inactive and were dropped from the list, and several others that were participating without having as yet gone through the formal process of accession.) The one major amendment to the agreement was the addition of regional associations within the CSSO structure.

Achievements[edit]

Because of its nature it is difficult to describe the accomplishments of the CSSO separate from those of its constituent Participating Organizations. The role and accomplishment of the CSSO was to strengthen the member organizations, their activities, initiatives, and programs through the exchange of information, ideas, and materials, sharing of resources, collaboration, and joint initiatives. The twice or thrice yearly international CSSO meetings always provided an opportunity to raise the awareness of Solidarity cause in the local media, which also would raise the visibility of the host CSSO organization. The meeting themselves sometimes produced significant political successes as invited guest politicians and opinion leaders were on occasion moved and persuaded by the gathering to support a CSSO advocated position. But perhaps most importantly, the impact of the CSSO was in fostering trust among the leaders of the member organizations. This did indeed foster collaboration and thus improved the efficacy of numerous initiatives and programs.

But the role of the CSSO pales in comparison to the accomplishments of its constituent Participating Organizations. These accomplishments range from: a massive smuggling of materials to the underground Solidarity and other groupings in Poland and beyond; to the above-ground Family-to-Family assistance to the families of the imprisoned and persecuted Solidarity activists; to the Independent Polish Agency news agency providing information and photographs to the news media across the globe; to the professional periodic publications such as Kontakt (Paris), Pogląd and Meinung (West Berlin), Voice of Solidarity (London), ARKA de Informaciones (Mexico City), and Porando-geppo (Tokyo); to political action, lobbying and raising awareness activities in every country; to assistance to the Brussels Coordinating Office and activists in their work on behalf of Solidarity; to sending financial resources to Solidarity and opposition groups in Poland.

One aspect of the CSSO or rather its constituent organizations that is often overlooked and thus requires emphasis is that the composition of the membership of these organizations consisted primarily of the citizens of the countries where these organizations were located and usually included members who were not of Polish heritage. David Phillips, the first CSSO Secretary, was among the most prominent examples. In fact in some organizations, the majority were not of Polish heritage, though sometimes did include non-Poles who were nevertheless fluent in PolishYoshiho Umeda (CSSO Asian Coordinator), and Jan Axel Stolz, who served as CSSO Secretary.

CSSO Participating Organizations (1989)[edit]

  1. Solidarity Victorian Fellowship Notting Hill Victoria AUSTRALIA
  2. Action Group in Support of Solidarity Montreal Quebec CANADA
  3. Friends of Solidarity Kitchener Ontario CANADA
  4. Friends of Solidarity Edmonton Alberta CANADA
  5. Friends of Solidarnosc Association Vancouver BC CANADA
  6. Group of Solidarity in St. Catharines St. Catharines Ontario CANADA
  7. Polish Canadian Action Group Toronto Ontario CANADA
  8. Polish Socio-Political Group Independence-Solidarity Calgary Alberta CANADA
  9. Solidarity Support Committee of Toronto Toronto Ontario CANADA
  10. Solidarnosc Assistance Association Ottawa Ontario CANADA
  11. Stowarzyszenie Przyjaciół Solidarności - Winnipeg Winnipeg Manitoba CANADA
  12. Stot Solidarnosc Kobenhavn DENMARK
  13. Edition Spotkania Paris FRANCE
  14. KONTAKT Vanves FRANCE
  15. Radio Solidarnosc Paris FRANCE
  16. Solidarite pour Solidarnosc Roubaix FRANCE
  17. Committee to Support ISTU Solidarity in Japan Tokyo JAPAN
  18. Comite de Apoyo a Solidarnosc Mexico DF MEXICO
  19. Inst. De Estudios de Culture y Sociedades Europeas Mexico DF MEXICO
  20. Solidaridad Mexico Mexico DF MEXICO
  21. Solidarity Organization in New Zealand, Inc. Auckland NEW ZEALAND
  22. Solidaritet Norge-Polen Oslo NORWAY
  23. Polen-Solidaritetskommittee I Uppsala Uppsala SWEDEN
  24. Svenska Stodkommitten for Solidaritet Lund SWEDEN
  25. Polish Solidarity Campaign London UNITED KINGDOM
  26. Solidarity Action Committee - Manchester Manchester UNITED KINGDOM
  27. Voice of Solidarity - publishing committee London UNITED KINGDOM
  28. Wyre Forest Polish Solidarity Campaign Kidderminster Worc. UNITED KINGDOM
  29. Brotherhood of Solidarity Members Chicago IL USA
  30. Committee in Support of Solidarity Cleveland OH USA
  31. Committee of Solidarity Members - Former Political Prisoners New York, NY USA
  32. Friends of Solidarity Families Project Buffalo NY USA
  33. Friends of Solidarity, Inc Washington DC USA
  34. Polonia Solidarity Association Reading PA USA
  35. Solidarity - California Los Angeles CA USA
  36. Solidarity and Human Rights Association Buffalo NY USA
  37. Solidarity International New York NY USA
  38. Solidarity International of Connecticut, Inc. New Britain CT USA
  39. Solidarity Support Committee of Rhode Island Providence RI USA
  40. Solidarnosc Association Seattle WA USA
  41. Support of Solidarity Boston MA USA
  42. "Solidarnosc" - Venezuela Caracas VENEZUELA
  43. Arbeitsgruppe "Solidarnosc" - Eschweiler Achen Eschweiler WEST GERMANY
  44. Gessellschaft Solidarnosc, e.V. West Berlin
  45. Hilfskomitte Solidarnosc Mainz WEST GERMANY
  46. Solidarität der freien Polen in Bayern, e.V. München WEST GERMANY

CSSO Meetings[edit]

INTER-ORGANIZATIONAL MEETINGS PRIOR TO CSSO FOUNDING MEETING:

  • March 31, 1982 Hartford, CT – USA
  • April 17, 1982 Boston, MA – USA
  • July 17–18, 1982 Bethlehem, CT – USA
  • August 28, 1982 Boston, MA – USA
  • October 15–16, 1982 Washington, DC – USA
  • December 4, 1982 Watertown, CT – USA

CSSO MEETINGS:

  1. January 8–9, 1983 Buffalo, NY – USA founding meeting
  2. June 18–19, 1983 Cleveland, OH – USA
  3. October 29, 1983 Washington, DC – USA
  4. August 18–19, 1984 Toronto, Ontario – CANADA
  5. January 12, 1985 Norwalk, CT – USA
  6. February 16, 1985 New York, NY – USA
  7. May 18–19, 1985 London – UNITED KINGDOM
  8. December 14, 1985 Jersey City, NJ – USA
  9. May 24–25, 1986 Providence, RI – USA
  10. August 22–25, 1986 Lund – SWEDEN
  11. May 23–24, 1987 Toronto, Ontario – CANADA
  12. August 21–23, 1987 London – UNITED KINGDOM
  13. February 12–14, 1988 Los Angeles, CA – USA
  14. May 26–29, 1988 Paris – FRANCE
  15. October 14–16, 1988 Aachen – GERMANY
  16. March 16–19, 1989 Caracas – VENEZUELA
  17. December 8–10, 1989 West Berlin
  18. August 24–26, 1990 Aachen – GERMANY
  19. August 15–16, 1992 Kraków – POLAND dissolution meeting

25th Anniversary Informal gathering – September, 2007 – Warsaw, POLAND

CSSO Administrators[edit]

CSSO Moderator

Andre Blaszczynski (1983-1990)

CSSO Coordinator

Jozef Lebenbaum (1985-1990)
Ted Kontek (1983-1985)

CSSO Secretary

Miroslaw Ancypo (1987-1990)
David Phillips (1983-1990)
Jacek Slusarek (1987-1990)

CSSO North American Coordinator

Ewa Slusarek (1983-1990)

CSSO North American Secretary

Jacek Slusarek (1986-1990)

CSSO European Coordinator

Krzysztof Turowski (1986-1990)
Aleksander Zajac (1986-1990)

CSSO Asian Coordinator

Yoshiho Umeda (1982-1990)

CSSO Latin AmericanCoordinator

Olga Jarzebinska (1985-1990)

CSSO Canadian Coordinator

Leszek Prusinski (1984-1990)

References[edit]

External Links[edit]


Repositories of CSSO and CSSO constituent organization documents

  1. Andre Blaszczynski
  2. Irene Dubicka-Morawska
  3. Ewa Slusarek
  4. Elizabeth Wasiutynski

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