Report to the EGF Annual General Meeting 2002: Ideas and suggestions for a new or revised constitution.

                                              Henric Bergsåker, 12 July 2002.

1.      Introduction.

The constitution of the EGF was last amended at the AGM in Strausberg 2000. The aims of the latest amendments [1-5] were mainly to introduce structures for handling appeals against EGF decisions and internal conflicts in member associations which they have not been able to solve themselves, and to define some fairness criteria in the relation between the member associations and individual goplayers. Some aspects of admission to the EGF and a number of minor language- and other details were also modified. At the AGM in Strausberg and in the following years it has appeared that there are wishes and ideas for further revisions, or even for a complete rewriting of the constitution. A discussion paper, which was assembled under the responsibility of the EGF Executive in spring 2000, also aimed at a more extensive rewriting of the constitution [2]. The president of the EGF has asked me to collect suggestions and ideas for the future constitution from the EGF members and from individuals who take an interest in the matter, and put them together into a report for the AGM in 2002. Consequently the most important part in what follows will be a structured list of the various ideas which have come up, and the motivations which have been put forward for the different suggestions, as well as some arguments which have been raised against them. There will not be any attempt to establish any priorities or preferences between the suggestions, but a brief discussion of how the proposals differ and how they are connected and how to proceed with the work on the constitution. Hopefully listing the various ideas and wishes for constitutional revisions in a single report will be helpful in the coming discussions and will make it easier to structure this work.

2.      Proposals and suggestions.

The proposals and suggestions collected so far have been of three different kinds: 1) Adopting the constitution of some other international sports- or games organisation, with modifications [6-11]. 2) Changing the way the Executive committee works, such that each member of the Executive becomes responsible for specific  kinds of matters [12-13]. 3) Various suggestions of minor amendments to the present constitution [14-18].

2.1 To adopt the constitution of another organisation, after modifications.     

It has been suggested to take over the constitution of some other international organisation. The motivation that has been given for this is that it may make it easier to make go a sport with Olympic association or to gain entrance to the GAISF (General Association of  International Sports Federations). Thus for instance in spring 2001 Zoran Mutabzija presented a complete constitution proposal based on the constitution of the FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), with some words changed [6]. Likewise the Italian member has suggested adopting the FIDE constitution, with modifications ( not specified) [7,8]. It has not been made clear yet how or why adopting the constitution of another organisation would facilitate Olympic association and it has not yet been specified which aspects of  e.g. the FIDE constitution would be desirable or important for Olympic association. The Swedish member found that a more extensively modified version of the FIDE constitution could be acceptable [10] but did not see any obvious reason to prefer it to the present EGF constitution [10,16]. It has been pointed out that it may not be appropriate to copy the constitution of a world organisation, since the EGF is not itself a world organisation [12,9]. In particular the objection has been made that the constitutions of larger organisations assume employed professional staff, which the EGF could not afford [9]. The FIDE constitution has also been severely criticised, based on recent chess history and for being detrimental to the rights of the individual goplayers [11].

2.2  To create a Board of Directors.

Tony Atkins has suggested to modify the role of the Executive Committee into a board of directors under a president [12]. In this model, each director would be responsible for a functional area, such as Corporate and Finance, Information, Tournaments, Rules and Regulations and Development. The motivations given for this are hopes for better efficiency [13], clearer lines of responsibility [12,13] and alignment of the directors' jobs with areas of interest, making the positions easier to fill [12]. It has also been claimed that such a model would be better suited for Olympic plans or better to handle membership disputes [12].

2.3  Suggestions to amend the present constitution.

Some have commented in the direction that no larger revisions of the EGF constitution are necessary and that only minor corrections would be required [9,10,16,17]. The following minor amendments of the constitution have been suggested:

1) Introduce the possibility to replace an EGF member with another national go association, e.g. in case the old member is found no longer to be representative of the goplayers in the country [4,15].

2) State the transparency of the EGF more explicitly, in particular to ensure that the correspondence of members of the Executive Committee is made available to the members, as has been stated by the AGM:s in 2000 and 2001, taking into account that most of the correspondence today is in electronic form [8,16,15]. This means modifying article 8.3 of the constitution.

3) Change the requirements on nominations of candidates for the executive, in particular not to require nomination of people already in office for reelection [14,16,17].

4) Increase the length of term for the Executive Committee [2,6].

5) Include an explicit statement in the constitution to say that the EGF members should be democratic [16], following the statement by the AGM in 2000.

6) Add procedures to handle the situation if the executive resigns [17,15].

7) Introduce election for non-Executive posts [17].

8) Change the voting rules at the AGM to give the big associations more weight, more in agreement with the number of members [18].

9) Change article 6 of the constitution to ensure that the meeting can invite an individual to speak and remove the possibility to keep secret any part of the AGM [15].

10) Scrap the appeals commission [15].

11) Make the auditors responsible for commenting on the performance of the finance committee [15].

12) Review the process of how the EGF gets money from the members, so that it becomes clearer and more predictable how much the EGF is to collect from each country and how many members each association is to pay for, when to pay and what happens if the fees are not paid [19].

13) Review the process of proposals for the AGM, in particular to allow time for preparation of alternative proposals if a motion has been distributed only two months before the AGM [19].

14) Introduce a possibility to make urgent decisions at the AGM on matters which have not been announced two months before, taking due care by qualified majority that decisions can not be made which can be contrary to what they would have been at a meeting with all members gathered and with adequate time for preparation [19]. 
 

3.      Discussion.

When it has been suggested to take over the constitution of another organisation, it has not been made clear which aspects of possible model constitutions would be desirable. The discussion of this option would probably be helped if we can state more precisely what needs to be changed.

One dimension that seems to be at stake is the division of power, authority and independence between the EGF, its members and the individual goplayers. Some comments have clearly expressed a wish to give the national go associations and EGF members more power and authority with respect to the individual goplayers, e.g. the annex 10 to the president's New Year letter 2000 [2]. Some of the negative comments on the FIDE proposal address this very aspect [11]. Similarly a choice has to be made as to how much authority the EGF should keep for itself and how much to give away to its member associations. On the one hand there have been demands for more "teeth" for the EGF and more possibilities for sanctions against member associations [4,15], on the other hand the FIDE proposal was criticised for trying to impose too many "non enforceable restrictions and conditions" on the members [9]. Some comments even suggest giving authority away to external national bodies:  "a new national go organisation may only be recognised if it has previously been accepted by the highest sports authority of the country"[2]. If this power division problem is the driving force behind the urge to take over a constitution from another organisation, or if other specific aspects are, then it would seem most appropriate to address and discuss these issues explicitly.

If on the other hand the proponents of taking over the constitution of FIDE or similar themselves do not know what aspects of the other constitution they want, then the appropriate course of action may be either to ask the IOC or the GAISF directly what requirements they have on the constitutions of member associations, or to investigate a fair number of international sports organisations and find out on which points their constitutions differ significantly from that of the EGF. Clearly anything which not all the GAISF members have can not be a necessary condition for entering the GAISF. It may also be a good idea to discuss openly the underlying question if Olympic association is desirable or not, and if the EGF members prefer to see go as a sport or as something more and different [18]. Another relevant aspect to consider seems to be if the role of the EGF is to remain a regional go federation or if it should become a world organisation.

It is easy to believe that a board of directors may be more efficient than the present Executive Committee. Questions that immediately come to mind may be: With a Board of Directors structure, can one exclude that there are overlap zones where it is unclear who is responsible? The rules have to make it very specifically clear who decides on each issue in the particular case. Should each director appointed for a specific office directly by the AGM or how? Is there a risk of losing anything valuable in terms of democratic control or transparency, doing away with a more collective responsibility? Are there other similar organisations, which already have such a structure?  If there are, then maybe those who wish to take the constitution from another organisation may be satisfied as well with copying an appropriate structure. One may also ask whether it wouldn't be possible for the executive to delegate tasks internally without the need for a revision of the constitution.

It should be fairly straightforward to work out precise proposals for amendments from most of the points 1-14 in section 2.3 and find out if they have sufficient support from the EGF members. They can be discussed independently of each other. Some proposals are more complex, thus for instance it would seem that the proposal (8) to modify the voting rules also requires some way for the EGF to verify that the member associations state their number of members correctly. Some of the proposals have been up for discussion before, for example point (1) about a possibility to replace a member which has faded away or is otherwise no longer representative was discussed at the AGM in Strausberg 2000 and did not meet with sufficient approval. Likewise, point (4) of increasing the terms of office was discussed in connection with the revision in Canterbury 1992, when a 3 year term had been suggested [15], but the proposal was discarded. Still, there is no harm in discussing them again, in case the opinions have changed with more recent experience.
 

3.      Conclusions.

In conclusion, the way forwards seems to be: 1) If it is believed desirable to copy the constitution from another organisation, then try to specify why, so that the revision can be discussed in more concrete terms. If it is not known why, only that organisations with different constitutions are in a better position somehow, then make a systematic survey of what the significant differences are with the EGF constitution, so that concrete revisions can be suggested. 2) Formulate in concrete terms an option based on a board of directors, possibly after having consulted the constitutions of other organisations and taking care that valuable aspects of the present EGF constitution are not lost. 3) Formulate concrete proposals based on the suggestions in section 2.3. Having done that, find out if the proposals have sufficient support from the EGF members. Since constitutional revisions require ¾ majority, they have to be made in wide consensus. Hence it can surely save time if the EGF members are continuously informed of how the work progresses and if proposals which clearly meet with strong resistance are abandoned.

References

(Items indicated with (A) are attached to this communication. Items indicated (D) have been distributed to the EGF members on earlier occasions. The author can provide copies of any

of the documents if requested. Some sections in the attached documents have been omitted, either because they don't address constitutional issues, or because the authors don't wish them to be reported. These omissions are indicated with (…).  )

[1]  Letter from notary Adriaan Helmig to Erik Puyt 3/2 2000. (D)

[2]  Starting points for a new constitution, annex 10 to president's newyear letter 2000. (A,D)

[3]  Executive's proposal from spring 2000. (D)

[4]  The Swiss member's proposal from spring 2000. (D)

[5]  The British member's proposal from spring 2000. (D)

[6]  Zoran Mutabzijas proposal from spring 2001 to take the constitution of the international  

      chess federation  FIDE, with some words changed. (D)

[7]  Motion from the Italian member to the AGM 2001 to work on adapting the FIDE      

       constitution. (D)

[8]  Motions from the Italian member for the AGM 2002. (A,D)

[9]   Comment  spring 2001 by Alan Held, former president of the EGF,

       on Zoran Mutabzija's proposal. (D)

[10] Comment spring 2001 by the Swedish member on Zoran Mutabzija's proposal (A)

[11] Comment June 2002 by Sergio Parimbelli, former EGF treasurer, on the FIDE 

        constitution. (A)

[12] Tony Atkins' suggestion in the May letter 2002 and elsewhere. (A)

[13] Comments from the Polish member June 2002 on Atkins' suggestions. (A)

[14] Suggestions June 2002 by Matti Siivola. (A)

[15] Suggestions and comments June-July 2002 by Alan Held. (A)

[16] Suggestions June 2002 by the Swedish member. (A)

[17] Tony Atkins, suggestions July 2002. (A)

[18] Suggestions by Martin Stiassny, president of the German member. (A)

[19] Suggestions by the German member, July 2002. (A)