ROUNDTABLE, TUESDAY, 7 0CTOBER 2008 10 am, Room II, Ecumenical Centre
1. Update on the activities of the Association: there will be a briefing on what the Executive Committee has been doing over the last nine months, including projects underway and foreseen.
2. Participation of members: ideas on how to involve the membership more will be considered.
3. The work of Greycells in the future: we will have a look at where we go from here, including consideration of the date of the annual General Assembly, and elections to the Executive Committee.
4. Other business
The President of the association welcomed the participants, of whom there were 24. A full list is attached in the annex.
1. Update on the activities of the Association The activities of the association since the Constituent Assembly in January, and the newsletter in June, were briefly recalled, by the president and other members of the interim Executive Committee (EC). Most of these had been of a practical nature (making the association known through letters to missions, organizations and development agencies, securing a phone, office space, financial support from the Geneva authorities, creating a website, etc.). There had also been a few more substantive actions relating to missions in Geneva (Tanzania, Kosovo), the Swiss authorities and parts of “la Genève international” (CAGI, Mandat international), and at least one NGO had sought the association’s collaboration in support of a development project it had in mind in Tanzania. (This turned out to be essentially a request for financial help, which of course could not be envisaged, but it had been possible to suggest ways in which the proposal could be made more “bankable”.) The association had also been able to propose some names of persons to be consultants in a trade related project in Azerbaidjan run by GTZ. Many participants considered that these were considerable achievements; the difficulties of setting up such an association were well known.
2. Participation of members It was generally agreed that it would be appropriate to try to increase the membership, hovering at present at around 45. A number of approaches were suggested: advertising through house organs of the retiree associations (this had partly been done already), women’s clubs, a presentation at the AFICs lunch, Geneva Women in International Trade (GWIT), etc. One of the best methods, however, remained word of mouth. An inventory of expertise, and of availability to serve, would be useful, so that potential clients could easily see what experience was available, and to what extent. If there was to be a push for more members, or to drum up business for Greycells, creating working groups to pilot this was a good way of involving members. Many participants were unaware of the existence of the website (www.greycells.ch), but that was also a way of making the association better known, and attracting new members. It was confirmed that the association was open to retirees from organizations outside Geneva, but as a practical matter, it was always likely it would be predominantly Geneva based. When it came to actually carrying out activities, it was clear the association would have to rely not only on members, but on others known to members through their personal networks. No doubt when the association had developed a track record of activities, this would incite more people to become members.
3. The work of Greycells in the future Consideration was also given to ways in which the association could make itself better known to potential clients, precisely with a view to generating activities, in which a maximum number of members could become involved. In this context, it was important to ensure that the specificity of Greycells was clear, that it was not just another association militating in favour of retirees’ rights. The areas in which it could be active should be considered; for example health, environment, and emergency management were very topical. Contacts that might be helpful included the CEB (executive heads, one of whom might be prepared to act as sponsor of the association), the African Union, the EU, international organizations of employers and unions, etc. In general it was agreed that LDCs should be the main focus of development activities, while for the Geneva community, explaining the international organization system in an academic context (colleges, workers’ and popular universities) could be an interesting avenue to explore. For this purpose also, a working group might be the best way to proceed, as well as for beefing up the website, which would have to follow. Could the association publish a newsletter informing about current issues of importance in the Geneva organizations, to help governments hard-pressed to cover all that was going on? In any case the letters to organizations should be followed up by personal visits.
4. Other business It was envisaged to hold the general assembly of the association at the beginning of December. At that time the interim EC would present a slate of members prepared to be on the EC from 2009. Ideally there should be more than the minimum 12 members provided for in the Statute.
GreyCells - Association of Former International Civil Servants for Development
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