Constitution Report to the EGF Annual General Meeting 2003. 

                                                      July 17th  2003

Tony Atkins, Henric Bergsåker, Christian Gawron, Zoltan Kelemen, Zoran Mutabzija,

Jan van Rongen .

1.      Introduction and instructions.

The constitution of the EGF was last amended at the AGM in Strausberg 2000. Since then a number of of ideas and suggestions for further revisions, or even a complete rewriting of the constitution have appeared. In a report to the AGM in Zagreb 2002 and in the references therein, the suggestions up to that point in time were listed [1].  On December 19th 2002 the EGF Executive Committee appointed the following Constitution Commission to assist the Executive and the EGF members in the work on the constitution: Tony Atkins (UK), Henric Bergsåker (Sweden, moderator), Christian Gawron (Germany), Zoltan Kelemen (Hungary), Zoran Mutabzija (Croatia) and Jan van Rongen (Netherlands). The following instruction was issued:

General instruction:

"To assist the Executive (in the first place) and the EGF members by working out concrete proposals for modifications of the constitution, based on ideas and suggestions from the  Executive, from the EGF members or on needs which the commission itself can identify . This means writing the actual texts in a clear and unambiguous way which fits into the framework of the constitution. As far as possible the proposals should also be accompanied with clear motivations and an objective discussion of their implications, in order to make it easier for the EGF members to judge if they would like to support them or not.

To investigate and analyse long term strategies for how the constitution can be modernised and kept up to date with the needs of the EGF, including the possible needs for major
revisions or complete rewriting of the constitution.

To report on the activities regularly to the Executive and to the EGF members."

Instruction for spring 2003:

"Prepare proposals based on some of the suggestions which were listed in the report to the AGM in Zagreb in time for the deadline for constitutional proposals 25/1, so that they can be
considered by the AGM (next year) in
St Petersburg. The commission prepares the proposals in a way which is suitable for the AGM, it is then up to the Executive or any EGF member which proposals they would like to put on the agenda. Since time is very short now it is obvious that not very many complete proposals can be expected for January, the commission is advised to concentrate on the most urgent and the most easy to implement.

Continue in spring to prepare proposals that may be discussed at the AGM in 2003 but decided 2004 or later. Collect and document possible new ideas and suggestions. It may be useful for the commission to ask the EGF members for their preliminary opinion on the proposals and ideas. Since the constitution can be modified only in large consensus, it saves
work if proposals which are clearly unacceptable to many EGF members are discarded, at least for the time being. Report to the AGM."

In this report, the different suggestions which have appeared so far are once again listed in section 2. A few worked out proposals based on these suggestions are presented in section 3.

Some of the suggestions are discussed without definitive proposals in section 4. Our conclusions and recommendations for how to proceed are summarised in section 5.

2.      Suggestions for constitutional revisions.

The following are the ideas which have been considered so far. Suggestions S01-S16 are the ones which have appeared up to 2002 and were listed in the report of last year [1]. The points S17-S18 have been brought up within the commission since then. Point S19 has been raised by Marc Gonzales and point S20 has been brought up by the Irish member.

S01) 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 [2,3].

S02) 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 [3,4,5].

S03) Change the requirements on nominations of candidates for the executive, in particular not to require nomination of people already in office for reelection [5,6,7].

S04) Increase the length of term for the Executive Committee [8,9].

S05) Include an explicit statement in the constitution to say that the EGF members should be democratic [5], following the statement by the AGM in 2000.

S06) Add procedures to handle the situation if the executive resigns [3,7].

S07) Introduce election for non-Executive posts [3].

S08) Change the voting rules at the AGM to give the big associations more weight, more in agreement with the number of members [10].

S09) 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 [3].

S10) Scrap the appeals commission [3].

S11) Make the auditors responsible for commenting on the performance of the finance committee [3].

S12) 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 [11].

S13) 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 [11].

S14) 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 [11].

S15) Modify the role of the Executive Committee into a board of directors under a president. In this model, each director would be responsible for a functional area, such as Corporate and Finance, Information, Tournaments, Rules and Regulations and Development [12,13].

S16) Adopt the constitution of another organisation, such as FIDE, with appropriate modifications [4,9,14].

S17) Change the election procedures at the AGM so that the situation when two or more candidates for an office get the same number of votes can be handled.

S18) Clarify the role of the EGF commissions and the formalities around them.

S19) Modify the election of the Executive Committee in such a way as to encourage or enforce the election of a team which is prepared to collaborate and work together [15].

S20) Modify article 6.3 to allow proxy votes at the AGM [16].

 

3.      Proposals.

There is more than one version of the existing constitution. To be specific, we are assuming that the version which was taken down by Tony Atkins [17] is the one which best corresponds to what was agreed upon in Strausberg. Now and then minor differences have been discovered between this version and the one which is published on the EGF website.

The following concrete proposals have been worked out, based on the suggestions.

3.1 Proposed change P02 in the constitution.

Article 8.3 in the constitution now reads:

"The Secretary deals with all written business for the EGF. Where appropriate, he will receive and retain copies of the President's and Treasurer's correspondence which he will file together with copies of his own letters in the archives. Access to internal correspondence of the Committee may, at the discretion of the Committee, be restricted. It is his responsibility, in consultation with the organisers of the Congress, to fix a date for the Annual General Meeting. He shall circulate the agenda for the General Meeting including times and dates and details of all proposals not less than six weeks before the beginning of the meeting. He must write up the minutes of the General Meeting and circulate them to all member nations within a reasonable period of time."

We propose to change this into:

"8.3 The Secretary deals with all written business for the EGF, whether in electronic form or on paper. He will receive and retain copies of the President's and Treasurer's correspondence, which he will file together with copies of his own letters in the archives. When requested by any member organisation, the Secretary should without unnecessary time delay provide access to the correspondence of the EGF Officers and other official documents. Access to internal correspondence within the Committee may, at the discretion of the Committee, be restricted. It is the responsibility of the Secretary, in consultation with the organisers of the Congress, to fix a date for the Annual General Meeting. He shall circulate the agenda for the General Meeting including times and dates and details of all proposals not less than six weeks before the beginning of the meeting. He must write up the minutes of the General Meeting and circulate them to all member nations within a reasonable period of time."

Motivation:

The EGF members may need to know what the Executive is doing in order to be able to evaluate its performance. There isn't anything in the activities of the EGF that should require secrecy. The AGM's in Strausberg and Dublin made statements in favour of transparency. Any distinction between electronic mail and hardcopies is irrelevant and obsolete. The old article 8.3 can be interpreted to imply this kind of transparency, including electronic mail, but is not entirely unambiguous. The proposed new text is a clarification.

3.2 Proposed change P03 in the constitution.

Article 6.7 of the EGF constitution now reads:

"The election of officers shall be by secret ballot if there is more than one nomination for any officer. One ballot per election will be given to each national delegation, stamped with the EGF seal. If there are more than two nominations for an officer's post and no single delegate receives an absolute majority on the first round, the nominee who received the fewest votes will drop out and the vote will be taken with the remaining nominees. The same procedure is then repeated. Nominations for office must be circulated by the Secretary together with the Agenda. Nominees must be  proposed by at least one member Federation in good standing, seconded by two more member Federations and must confirm to the Executive their willingness to occupy the post for which they are proposed."

We propose to change this into:

"Except in the case of re-election of a person already in office, candidates for election as officers of the EGF must be proposed by at least one member Federation in good standing, seconded by two more member Federations and must confirm to the Committee their willingness to occupy the post for which they are proposed. The nominations have to be communicated to the Secretary at least two months before the AGM and the list of candidates for office must be circulated by the Secretary together with the Agenda. The election of officers shall be by secret ballot if there is more than one candidate for any office. If there are more than two candidates for an officer's post and no single candidate receives an absolute majority in the first round, the candidate who received the fewest votes will drop out and the vote will be taken with the remaining candidates. The same procedure is then repeated if necessary. "

Motivation:

The purpose of the requirement of nomination and seconding by two additional members, which was introduced in the constitution amendment in 2000, is to avoid that the election is complicated by a large number of candidates who are not likely to be elected since they don't have sufficient support. But the persons already in office have already had sufficient support, so extra nominations are clearly unnecessary.

3.3 Proposed change P05 in the constitution.

In article 3 we suggest to add directly following: "There can only by one member organisation from any one country." the sentence: "The EGF members are expected to be democratically managed and representative of the organised goplayers in the respective countries".

Motivation:

The matter of democracy has been up for discussion in connection with the the so called C++ decision at the AGM in Podbanske in 1999. The AGM in Strausberg in 2000 voted in favour of a statement to the effect that the EGF members should be democratic. Since democracy is the generally accepted norm in the European countries there shouldn't be any serious drawbacks in making such a requirement for the EGF members.

3.4 Proposed change P09 in the constitution.

Article 6.8 now reads:

"Only member nations with delegates present at the meeting may vote, although written "position papers" may be accepted.  Only member organisations which are fully paid up may vote, although observers, organisations not fully paid up and individuals (the latter at the discretion of the President) may offer their comments."

We propose to change this into:

"Only member nations with delegates present at the meeting may vote, although written statements submitted by absent members may be accepted.  Only member organisations which are fully paid up may vote, although observers and organisations not fully paid up may offer their comments. The President or the meeting may also invite individuals to comment."

Motivation:

It is hard to see any valid reason why the constitution should not allow the meeting to invite anybody to make a comment if it so wishes.

3.5 Proposed change P17 in the constitution.

Article 6.7 now reads:
"If there are more than two nominations for an officer's post and no single delegate receives an absolute majority on the first round, the nominee who received the fewest votes will drop out and the vote will be taken with the remaining nominees. The same procedure is then repeated."

In the modified version proposed as P03, the corresponding section reads: "If there are more than two candidates for an officer's post and no single candidate receives an absolute majority in the first round, the candidate who received the fewest votes will drop out and the vote will be taken with the remaining candidates. The same procedure is then repeated if necessary. "

We suggest to add immediately following this the sentence:

"If it results that two or more candidates in the end get an equal number of votes,  the officer is selected by drawing of lots."

Motivation:

Deciding by draw is obviously the simplest and most generally applicable way to avoid a possible stalemate situation in the elections.

3.6    Language improvements.

The language of the present text can be improved. The terminology is not always consistent. As an example the members of the EGF are sometimes called "member organisations", sometimes just "members", often "member nations" and at least once "Federations in good standing". We suggest to remove "member nations" altogether and replace it with "members" or with "member organisations" in places where one could possibly mistakenly read "members" as individual members. We propose to replace "Federations in good standing" with "members in good standing".  At present words like "secretary", "President", "Go",

"Observer", "observer", "treasurer", "Treasurer", "officers", "Officers" etc appear sometimes with initial capital, sometimes not. We suggest to use initial capital in President, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Committee, Observer and so on everywhere, since they can be viewed as words with a special meaning, which are defined in the constitution. We suggest "go" and "officers" without initial capital. We suggest to make the text consistently gender neutral. In the present text the EGF officers are sometimes referred to as "he", "him" etc, sometimes as "he/she" etc. We suggest being consistent and write "he/she" or "he or she" everywhere.

4.      Discussion.

We are not yet able to make concrete proposals based on the remaining suggestions but offer the following comments on some of the points in order to encourage discussion.

4.1 Comment D08, on giving the big members more voting power.

The objective of this proposal is to keep the EGF representative of the European goplayers. The fact that the big associations (like Germany, which has almost a third of the goplayers in

Europe in terms of members or active players on the EGF rating list) have the same voting power as the smallest associations with only a few members leaves the players in the big associations with disproportionately small influence in the EGF. The original suggestion S08 calls for graded voting power depending on the number of individual members in the national go associations.

However there are considerable practical problems involved in actually determining the size of the EGF members in a fair, simple and reliable way. The voting power is of course fundamental in the EGF and has to be based on something robust. It has been objected to the use of the number of individual members that the membership policies in the EGF members vary a lot. Some EGF members hand out individual membership for free to people they have had only very casual contact with, whereas others have more or less high individual membership fees. Some EGF members require individual membership for participation in their own tournaments and other activities, whereas others do not. Membership in some of the EGF members includes free copies of good national go journals, which can be expected to increase the number of individual members, whereas it does not in others. It has also been objected that it would be unethical if voting power can be bought for money by paying larger membership fees to the EGF and that intricate verification problems may occur.

The same problem was extensively discussed in fall 2002 in the committee working on the selection of pairs for the world pairgo championship. The solution which was finally chosen there was to use a size measure consisting in the minimum of the two numbers: number of members paid for and two times the number of active players on the EGF rating list with European rating above 1000. Possibly this is a fair and practical measure to use, but it is a bit doubtful if it is sufficiently robust and transparent to use in the EGF constitution. At any rate it would be necessary to stipulate in the EGF constitution that a rating list has to be maintained and to specify in some way how it should work, which would be a rather complicated matter. It would be easier to just specify that there should be a rating list including tournament active players and use the whole list, but the objection has been made that the lists at the lower kyu levels may be easy to manipulate. 

4.2 Comment D09, on keeping the AGM secret.

Apart from the matter of inviting individuals to speak at the AGM, suggestion S09 also calls for an explicit removal of the possibility to keep anything secret at the AGM, which is mentioned in article 6.11 of the present constitution. It is not easy to formulate an alternative to 6.11 which stipulates that the AGM must be public, it might for instance be impractical to guarantee physical access to the general public. On the other hand we don't see any need for secrecy. It would be an easy solution just to remove article 6.11, since it does not really say much, but as it stands it does in fact describe the actual practice (that the meetings are public). 

4.3 Comment D18 (and D07), on the EGF commissions.

There are a few aspects around the EGF commissions which are unclear. For instance, should the commissions be appointed by the Executive or be elected by the AGM? Should the instructions for the commissions be defined by the Executive, by the AGM or perhaps by the commissions themselves? How should the chairmen of the commissions be appointed? Should the internal documents and correspondence of the commissions be accessible to the EGF members or not? Should the commissions be just consultative or formally make decisions of their own?

Article 9 in the present constitution says:

"The General Meeting or the Committee can install Commissions.  Commissions installed by the Committee have to be announced to the Member Associations by the Secretary within 30 days, and they have to be confirmed at the next AGM.

9.1. A commission may have any number of members.  One of the members must be appointed Chairman by the Commission.  This Chairman will report to the AGM on the activities of the Commission during the preceding year.

9.2. Activities, finance, and limitations for a Commission must be defined by the Committee or the AGM.  Any decisions by the Committee concerning a Commission must be presented at the next AGM for approval."

However, this description is not very clear and the actual practice does not follow these rules. Firstly, it is unclear what is meant by "installing" a commission, whether it includes appointing the members or not. For instance, it clearly says in article 10 of the constitution that the Appeals Commission should be "installed" by the AGM, but when the first Appeals Commission was installed in fall 2000 the members were appointed by the Executive and the AGM was never asked to confirm its composition. The members of the EGF commission for Italy in 2000-2001 were also appointed by the Executive. Secondly it has apparently never happened that a chairman of a commission has been elected by the commission itself as article 9.1 seems to stipulate, the chairmen have always been appointed by the Executive [18-20], although the name of the chairman has sometimes been mentioned at the AGM. Thirdly, the decisions e.g. by the Rules and Ratings commission have not been submitted to the AGM for approval.

In 1999-2000 the EGF Executive asked a Dutch notary who is specialised in international sports organisations, Adriaan Helmig, for advice on the constitution [8]. On the commissions/committees he said:

"Executive committee can only install small working committees, per special project only. These committees report to the executive committee" (…) "All the others commissions/committees (except rules and ranking) will be installed by the GA, to prevent conflicts of interest."

Or in other words, he recommended all commissions except the rules & rating to be appointed by the AGM. No motivation was given why the Rules and Ratings commission should not as well be appointed by the AGM.

Helmig also recommended that: "all commissions/committees are consultative committees (no executive authority) except executive committee and the disciplinary and appeal committee."

It can be argued that it is best if the commissions are elected by the AGM, since they then gain more legitimacy and authority, and besides the AGM is always the highest authority of the AGM anyway, and can of course chose to appoint commissions if it wants to. Drawbacks may be that election of a large number of commissioners may be a tedious procedure and that something may be lost in efficiency and/or continuity in the work of the commissions. Additionally this is not how the EGF has chosen to work in practice up to now.

We think that the Appeals Commission should certainly be elected by the AGM, since by the constitution it does have executive power and it should be possible to appeal to the commission even against decisions by the Executive Committee. For the commissions which don't have any executive power it would seem less essential that they are elected and it may be more practical if they are appointed by the Executive (conforming with the actual practice), but we feel that more discussion of this point is necessary. There is also the matter of the length of term of elected commissions, how nominations should take place and how resigning commissioners should be replaced.

Tony Atkins' suggestion S15 includes effectively abolishing the commissions as they look today and making an individual member of the board responsible for an area, so that he can organise a commission or whatever as he thinks fit. One step in that direction was introduced during Zoran Mutabzijas period as EGF president, since he appointed a "co-ordinator" for each commission, who could or could not be a member himself of the commission but who was a member of the Executive Committee.  

4.4 Comment D20, on proxy votes at the AGM.

Article 6.3 of the constitution rules out proxy votes at the AGM. In the most recent general meetings however, this article appears to have been circumvented, by Armenia/Russia at the AGM in Dublin, by Switzerland at the AGM in Zagreb and probably by a number of members at the coming AGM in St Petersburg. We would like to encourage a discussion of whether not allowing delegation of voting powers serves any constructive purpose, if it is desirable and if it can be enforced. To bring the constitution more in agreement with the emerging practice we suggest to remove at least the requirement that the delegate must be a member of the association he or she is representing ( it is difficult to verify such membership anyway and nothing can be done about ad hoc memberships) and possibly to allow that one person represents more than one member organisation too.

5.      Conclusions and recommendations.

We have discussed and worked out concrete proposals based on some of the suggestions that have been made. We propose to continue this work during the coming fall, so that a fair number of proposed changes can be brought to a decision at the AGM next year. We intend to keep the EGF members informed of the progress and expect that members who take an interest in the constitution will offer their comments to the suggestions and proposals. We also recommend that the record of suggestions and proposals be updated continuously and distributed regularly. We suggest that all correspondence between the commission and external parties should be shown to EGF members if requested.

References

(Items indicated with (A) are attached to this communication. Items indicated (D) have been distributed to the EGF members on earlier occasions. Copies of any of the documents can be provided)

[1] Henric Bergsåker, Report to the EGF Annual General Meeting 2002: Ideas and

     suggestions for a new or revised constitution (D).

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

[3] Suggestions and comments June-July 2002 by Alan Held. (D)

[4] Motions from the Italian member for the AGM 2002. (D)

[5] Suggestions June 2002 by the Swedish member. (D)

[6] Suggestions June 2002 by Matti Siivola. (D)

[7] Tony Atkins, suggestions July 2002. (D)

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

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

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

[10] Suggestions by Martin Stiassny, president of the German member. (D)

[11] Suggestions by the German member, July 2002. (D)

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

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

[14] Motion from the Italian member to the AGM 2001 to work on adapting the FIDE constitution. (D)

[15] Marc Gonzales, private communication 21/5 2003.

[16] Suggestion by the Irish member, July 2003.

[17] The EGF constitution, Atkins' version of the text (A).

[18] Peter Zandveld, private communication.

[19] Alan Held, private communication.

[20] Matti Siivola, private communication.