Dear members of War Resisters' International,
Later this year WRI will have a postal ballot on changing the constitution. However, the processes of electing a chair and Council needs to start before then. Therefore, these elections will take place under the existing constitution. The election for chair will therefore take place by postal ballot, and the elections for Council at the business meeting (27-28 January) to be held during the international conference in Ahmedabad, India next year.
While WRI is in the process to adopt a new constitution, which will also change the way the chair is appointed, we still need to follow the old procedure until the new constitution has been approved in a postal ballot - also in case it will not be approved.
Article 7 (b) the present constitution says: "The Chairperson shall be elected by postal ballot of the Sections in accordance with the Rules."
The rules state: "(a) Candidates for the office of Chairperson may be nominated by a Section or any five members. Nominations must be received by the Secretariat not less than six months before the first day of the International Conference. The Secretariat shall send ballot papers to the Sections promptly after the deadline. Sections shall have the same number of votes as for the International Conference. Ballot papers must be returned to the Secretariat not later than 90 days before the first day of the International Conference. The Chairperson shall assume office in the course of the International Conference."
The elections for Chair will be finished before the postal ballot on the proposed new Constitution, and the person elected will serve a three- or four-year term, from the International Conference in Ahmedabad until the next International Conference.
The present rules say: "(b) Candidates for election to the Council by the International Conference may be nominated by a Section or any five members. Nominations must be received by the Secretariat not less than 90 days before the first day of the International Conference. The election for Council shall take place during the International Conference on the basis of one ballot paper for each vote allotted in Article 6, provided that any Section, Associate Organisation or Associate Publication not represented at the Conference shall have the right to return a postal vote not later than one week before the first day of the Conference. Any ballot paper declaring votes for more than 12 candidates shall be invalid. Council members so elected shall assume office at the close of the International Conference."
Article 6 (b) of the present Constitution deals with the number of votes at the International Conference:
"Sections shall have the right to send representatives whose collective votes for each Section shall be determined by the following scale of membership:
Associate Organisations and Publications shall have the right to send representatives. There shall be two votes allotted to each Associate Organisation and one vote to each Associate Publication, except that such votes shall not apply in case of motions to amend the Constitution. Members of the Council other than those appointed by Sections shall have one vote on all matters except the election of Council and motions to amend the Constitution."
Please note that the proposed new constitution changes this. According to the proposed new constitution, "Sections with more than 1000 members have three, other Sections two and Associates one collective vote (except in cases of motions to amend the Constitutions)".
This causes some problems for the elections, and we propose keeping the present system for the entire elections (including during the business meeting, even if the new constitution has been approved). Otherwise, sections and associates would have different numbers of votes depending on when they cast their vote.
Article 11 of the present Constitution states: "...A proposed amendment shall require two-thirds of the votes cast to pass. The procedure for ballots on proposed amendments shall be determined by the Rules, provided that there shall be an interval of not less than six months between the first formal notification of the wording of a proposed amendment and the first day of the relevant International Conference, or the closure of the ballot, as the case may be."
Article 7 of the Rules says:
"7. (a) The proposers of a Constitutional Amendment shall have the right to submit with the proposal a paper setting out their argument for its adoption. Such paper shall be circulated by the Secretariat with formal notice of the proposal. Any further arguments pertaining to the proposal received by the Secretariat not later than two months before closure of the ballot shall also be circulated.
(b) Any formal proposal for amendment of the Constitution received by the Secretariat shall be placed on the agenda of the next relevant International Conference unless either the Executive Committee or the Council determine that it shall be put to a postal ballot. In the latter case the Executive Committee shall set the timetable for the ballot."
The proposed new Constitution was agreed by consensus at the Council meeting of Bilbao. They have now been put into unambiguous English and are about to be translated into French, Spanish, and German.
The postal ballot needs to start no later than 15 June, which means it will close on 15 December.
on behalf of the WRI office and Executive