Constituent Assembly 16:00 hrs, 17 January 2008 Centre William Rappard (WTO), Room A, Salle des pas perdus
1. The meeting was called to order at 16h15 by Fermin Alcoba, founding member of the Association, acting as Chairman. The list of participants is at Annex. The Chairman introduced the founding members present and called the attention of the meeting to the documents which would be discussed.
Adoption of the agenda
THE AGENDA (as contained in document CA/1) WAS ADOPTED.
Presentation of the Association
2. The Chairman explained that this was the founding meeting of the “Association of former international civil servants for development” with the proposed short name, “Greycells”. It was intended that the Association would pursue its activities on a pro bono and not-for-profit basis. Its members would be volunteers and would not be remunerated for their work.
3. In summarizing the thinking behind the idea to establish the Association, the Chairman cited the human capital represented by former staff of the international organizations: the Association of Former International Civil Servants (AAFI/AFICS) has over 3500 members and the Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants (FAFICS) represents some 17000 individual members. These former staff retire at a relatively “young” age and, given increased life expectancy, are still able to contribute to development work. They continue to believe in, and are attached to, the principles embodied in the United Nations Charter and in the constitutional instruments of the other international organizations where they have served.
4. While some former staff feel they have “given enough”, others feel they have “received a lot” and that retirement offers an opportunity to “give something back”, but these former staff lack a framework in which to work, since the framework offered by the international organizations is no longer available to them.
5. The Chairman noted that there are currently many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working in development, yet none of them are set up to provide to projects and activities the expertise of former international civil servants at no cost. Thus, “Greycells” is unique.
6. The Chairman explained the Association’s two main lines of action, namely to support the international community’s work in the developing world; and to cooperate with local Swiss institutions, as well as with accredited country representatives, with a view to improving the information capacity, outreach and hospitality facilities of Geneva as a host city for international organizations and NGOs.
Adoption of the Statutes
7. Claude Mercier, founding member, introduced the proposed Statutes (document CA/2), which had been drafted in consultation with the Swiss authorities, in order to ensure conformity with prevailing legislation. (Such conformity would be necessary in the event the decision were made to formally register the Association.)
8. He highlighted Article 5 (Members), in particular, the case for a wider membership to include, in addition to former international civil servants and former officials of diplomatic missions, staff due to retire within two years. He also highlighted Articles 6-12 (Organs) and referred to the draft indicative structure (document CA/3). With regard to resources (Article 4.1), he noted that relationships with development financing entities would need to be pursued in order to secure funds for projects. It was proposed to set the annual membership fee (mentioned in Article 4.1.2) at 100 CHF. Finally, he stated that the Statutes would need to be adopted and the Association thus formally established in order to initiate contacts with financing entities and to undertake activities.
THE STATUTES WERE UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED WITH THE PROVISION THAT THE (FULL AND SHORT) NAME OF THE ASSOCIATION IS PROVISIONAL AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
Designation of the members of the Executive Committee
9. Given that participants in the Constituent Assembly did not represent all international organizations, and that participants may not have had sufficient time to determine whether or not to seek membership in the Executive Committee, it was proposed that an Interim Executive Committee be composed of the group of founding members as follows:
Fermin Alcoba-Enciso, ex-WTO Catherine Bertrand, ex-UNHCR Alberto Campeas, ex-WTO Jacques Chabert, ex-WTO Marjory Dam, ex-WHO Guy Eckstein, ex-WIPO René Kirszbaum, ex-ILO Claude Mercier, ex-WTO Paul Rolian, ex-WTO Christina Schröder, ex-WTO Joseph Smadja, ex-ITC
10. The Executive Committee would be constituted by the General Assembly to be held in Q4/2008. Members would be co-opted to the Interim Executive Committee as needed.
THE PROPOSAL WAS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
Election of auditors and polling officers
IT WAS DECIDED THAT THIS MATTER WOULD BE DEALT WITH BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
Date of the first Executive Committee meeting
IT WAS DECIDED THAT THIS MATTER WOULD BE DEALT WITH BY THE INTERIM EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.
Amount of annual membership fee, elements of a working budget and illustrative list of activities
THE PROPOSAL TO SET THE ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP FEE AT 100 CHF (see paragraph 8 above) WAS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
11. A call for payment of the membership fee would be sent to those who had expressed interest in being members of the Association.
12. Marjory Dam, founding member, introduced the document setting out the elements of a draft working budget (document CA/4). At present, expenditure would be limited to operating costs - postage and additional small expenditure (no capital expenditure). Income was difficult to estimate until the number of members was known. Expenditure related to support for projects would depend on funds raised for that purpose.
13. René Kirszbaum, founding member, introduced the document setting out an illustrative list of activities (document CA/5). The list was meant to be indicative and not exhaustive. It is not intended that the Association would compete with other intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, rather it would collaborate with them.
14. During the discussion the following points were raised:
the initiative was welcomed; the wording “Association … for development” was vague; the Association might embrace too much; what is the added value of the Association; the importance of emphasizing the specificity and the independence of the Association; the wording “for development” reflects an earlier idea – today the idea is better reflected by the terminology “ for international cooperation”; the notion of independence should be reflected in the name of the Association; notwithstanding the different views expressed, it was important to proceed with activities.
15. Paul Rolian, founding member, cited the comparative advantage of the Association, namely,
the 20-30 years experience of the members; the pro bono contribution; the independence of the members; the fact that the services of the association, although not yet formerly established, had already been requested on two occasions.
Date of the General Assembly 2008
IT WAS DECIDED THAT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WOULD BE HELD IN Q4/2008.
16. Participants raised a number of other matters not specifically related to items on the agenda, namely,
17. Serge Boret Bokwango, responsible for protocol, Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Congo, attending as an observer, congratulated those present on the initiative of establishing the Association and expressed the interest of his government in accessing the expertise available.
The meeting rose at 18h00.
last updated on 1/12/2008