STATUTES OF THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
These Statutes and By-Laws of the International Environment Forum were adopted
by the IEF General Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA on 13 December 2000,
with a by-law amended on 9 October 2016.
ARTICLE 1 - CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 2 - DENOMINATION
ARTICLE 3 - DURATION
ARTICLE 4 - STATUS
ARTICLE 5 - PURPOSE
ARTICLE 6 - MEANS
ARTICLE 7 - RULES OF MEMBERSHIP
ARTICLE 8 - LOSS OF MEMBERSHIP
ARTICLE 9 - ADMINISTRATION
ARTICLE 10 - COMPETENCE
ARTICLE 11 - MEETINGS OF THE GOVERNING BOARD
ARTICLE 12 - ANNUAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY
ARTICLE 13 - BY-LAWS
ARTICLE 14 - FUNDS
ARTICLE 15 - ACCOUNTING AND EXTERNAL CONTROLS
ARTICLE 16 - RESPONSIBILITY
ARTICLE 17 - DISSOLUTION - AMENDMENTS
A. CONSULTATION AND DISCUSSION
C. LOSS OF MEMBERSHIP
D. VOTING PROCEDURES
E. MEETINGS OF THE GOVERNING BOARD
F. APPEALS OF DECISIONS OF THE GOVERNING BOARD
G. AGENDA AND PROCEDURES FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
H. MANAGEMENT OF FUNDS
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Whereas the Bahá'í Writings warn of the dangers of material civilization carried to excess, enjoin moderation, emphasize the oneness of humankind, and support ecological principles such as the interrelatedness of all things, unity in diversity, and the fundamental reality of increasing levels of cooperation, complexity and reciprocity across the vast extent of creation;
Whereas the Bahá'í Faith considers the preservation of the ecological balance at all levels in the world to be of vital concern to all humanity, and urges action for the environment and sustainable development from the local to the global level in ways that are in harmony with the rhythm of life in the community;
Whereas our inner life cannot be separated from the environment around us, the two being intimately interrelated, requiring that environmental and sustainable development issues also be addressed at the level of fundamental ethical and moral values and principles;
Whereas the international community of nations has recognized the importance of the protection and wise management of the environment, through the declaration and action plan adopted at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972), through those of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), and through other international and regional conferences and conventions, and has encouraged the involvement of non-governmental organizations;
Whereas the environmental and sustainable development principles and goals recognized and adopted internationally are largely in accordance with the principles and goals pursued by the Bahá'í International Community, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations;
Whereas modern technology has made the Internet a means for sustaining almost instantaneous global communications between individuals and hence methods for public discussion, organization, consultation, election, and coordination of the actions of scattered individuals around the world have become realistic;
We hereby constitute an international Bahá'í-inspired environment organization through the following Articles:
1.1 The undersigned and all others who shall accept the present Statutes, as described in Article 7, do establish an international not-for-profit association presently unincorporated under the law of any country.
2.1 The Organization shall be known as and called the "International Environment Forum", hereinafter "the Forum".
3.1 The duration of the Forum is unlimited.
4.1 The Forum shall exist as a "virtual" organization without a physical location or registered office, operating primarily through electronic means of communication such as the Internet, and through meetings of its members anywhere in the world. It shall not have a legal status or presence under any national law, nor shall it hold property or collect funds, except in small amounts for its operating expenses, as provided in Article 14 below.
5.1 The Forum shares and upholds the principles and ideals of the Bahá'í Faith and supports its efforts to establish and promote peace, the unity of the human race, and an ever-advancing world civilization that preserves the ecological balance of the planet. Its purposes are therefore:
5.2 To provide a forum for those who carry out environment or sustainable development activities, or who have a special interest in these areas, and who are also familiar with the ethical and social principles in the Bahá'í Writings, to deepen their appreciation and understanding of the guidance enshrined in those Writings, to share experiences and learn from each other, and to explore the ways and means of implementing those principles in the practice of such activities;
5.3 To generate and promote a discourse on how the Bahá'í teachings can be applied to the environmental challenges facing the world;
5.4 To influence specific agencies, groups or individuals concerned with these issues;
5.5 To encourage or participate in projects and initiatives in accord with those principles, in collaboration with organizations and individuals who are active in areas of environment and sustainable development, while being sensitive to the capacity of projects to receive such help;
5.6 To be available in an advisory capacity to governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses and communities in promoting the sustainable use of resources and protecting the environment;
5.7 To promote a greater awareness of environmental issues, and to stimulate environmental education amongst children, youth and adults, so that they can contribute more effectively to practical actions;
5.8 To increase awareness within communities of the need for sustainable and environmentally sound development;
5.9 To support networking among individuals and groups at the local, national, regional and international levels on issues of environment and sustainable development;
5.10 To encourage and advise young people who plan to study or work in the fields of environment or sustainable development in the spirit of the Bahá'í teachings;
6.1 In order to attain the goals stated in the preceding article, the undersigned parties have agreed to use the following means, among others:
6.2 To organize a yearly conference which shall also serve as the Annual General Assembly of the Forum;
6.3 To collaborate with associations and agencies in relevant fields of expertise, as well as development agencies;
6.4 To organize seminars and institutes on specialized subjects;
6.5 To encourage environmental research and scholarship;
6.6 To prepare papers, materials and publications for children, youth and adults that convey and illustrate the Bahá'í perspective;
6.7 To exchange information through periodical publications and by electronic media;
6.8 To maintain an annotated directory of the members of the Forum.
7.1 Any interested person may become a member of the Forum on the condition that they are sympathetic to the Bahá'í teachings and that they accept to abide by these Statutes, the By-laws and the decisions of the Governing Board.
7.2 Applications for membership should be submitted to the Governing Board, which will decide if the above conditions are met. The Board's decision to accept or reject the application need not be justified.
7.3 A member will receive all the materials of the Forum and announcements of all activities, may participate in the annual General Assembly, conferences and discussions by e-mail or in person, and is entitled to a single ballot whenever elections take place as provided for in these Statutes and the By-laws. A member is eligible to be elected to the Governing Board or to any positions within the Forum that are filled by election. Each member will provide an electronic contact address, if available, for use by the Forum in its electronic mailing list(s), as well as a resumé or curriculum vitae detailing experience in environment and sustainable development, and ability to provide advice or service to others in the environment field. Summaries in standard format derived from the resumés and contact information will be published in the Directory of Members on the Forum's electronic site on the Internet (WWW page), and made publicly available in other appropriate hard-copy and electronic publications.
7.4 Interested individuals who do not wish to vote, to be eligible for election, or to be listed in the Directory of Members may become Associates. An Associate is placed on the appropriate electronic mailing list(s) and will receive the materials of the Forum and announcements of all activities. An Associate may participate in conferences, discussions and working groups organized by the Forum, and may attend the General Assembly as an observer, but may not vote or be voted for. Each Associate will provide an electronic contact address for use by the Forum, if available. A list of Associates will be maintained by the Board for internal purposes and will not be published.
8.1 Membership of any type may be cancelled by a written resignation addressed to the Governing Board, or by decision of the Governing Board following procedures defined in the By-laws.
9.1 The Forum acknowledges its allegiance to the aims and principles of the Bahá'í Faith, and applies principles of Bahá'í decision-making in its administration and internal activities.
9.2 The Forum is administered by a Governing Board composed of at least five members elected by the Annual General Assembly from among all the membership, as provided for in Article 12. The number of members of the Governing Board is fixed by the By-laws.
9.3 The members of the Governing Board serve for one year, or until the next election, and their mandate is renewable. They do not receive any remuneration for their services.
9.4 Should the Governing Board recognize one or more vacancies, it may call for a by-election to fill the vacancies for the remainder of the term until the next General Assembly. The by-election shall follow the election procedure stipulated in the By-laws.
9.5 The Governing Board shall elect from among its members by secret ballot, a president, a general-secretary and any other officer which the Governing Board judges necessary for the good functioning of the Forum.
9.6 The Governing Board may empower the president to represent the Governing Board and act on its behalf to perform legal acts.
9.7 Any Member, but not an Associate, may appeal any decision of the Governing Board to the general membership, following procedures defined in the By-laws.
10.1 The Governing Board, in order to fulfil its mission, has complete competence in everything concerning the activities of the International Environment Forum, while respecting Bahá'í principles, unless otherwise stipulated in these Statutes or a By-law of the Forum.
11.1 The Governing Board will meet when convoked by the General-Secretary at the request of the President, or the General-Secretary, or three members, or according to a timetable it has decided upon. A meeting may take place electronically or in person, according to procedures established in the By-laws.
11.2 A simple majority of its members must participate or be present for the decisions of the Governing Board to be valid. Decisions will be made by a majority vote of those present or participating, unless the By-Laws state otherwise.
12.1 The Annual General Assembly is composed of all members as defined in Article 7. It shall meet once a calendar year, elect the members of the Governing Board, make recommendations to the Governing Board on the Forum's activities and work plan, approve amendments to these Statutes, confirm additions or modifications to the By-laws, and sustain or reject appeals to decisions of the Governing Board.
12.2 The date, place and agenda of the General Assembly shall be decided by the Governing Board, following principles established in the By-laws.
12.3 The Governing Board may decide to convoke a Special General Assembly at any time. The Special General Assembly will have the same competence as the Annual General Assembly. The means of convoking the Annual General Assembly or a Special General Assembly shall be defined in the By-laws.
12.4 No quorum of members is required for a General Assembly to be valid.
12.5 The Governing Board may decide to put any matter to a general electronic vote of the members. If more than half the members of the Forum vote in favour of the resolution, that decision shall have the same force as a decision of the General Assembly.
13.1 In order to conduct its business, the Governing Board shall adopt any "internal regulation", procedural rules or regulations which are necessary to define its own functions and operations, as well as those of the specific institutional elements, i.e. General Assembly, electronic discussion groups, committees, or working groups of the Forum.
13.2 Rules and regulations of any sort shall come into effect from the moment they are passed by the Governing Board, pending confirmation by the next General Assembly or a general vote. Once passed by a general vote or General Assembly, the rules, regulations or provisions shall be termed By-laws.
13.3 The Governing Board may not make rules, regulations, or provisions that would alter in any way these Statutes or an existing By-law, without approval by a General Assembly or a general vote.
13.4 Only the Governing Board may formulate and propose to the membership the text of a proposed By-law.
14.1 The Governing Board may establish limited operating funds as defined in the By-laws, including a fund for secretarial expenses, and a fund to support publications. Such funds may be held by the Governing Board or a designated member, or by a Bahá'í institution acting as trustee for the Forum.
14.2 Income may be generated from gifts or voluntary contributions, fees for conferences or other events, and sales of publications. Expenditures will be decided or approved by the Governing Board.
14.3 Funds may not be collected or disbursed to support projects, other institutions, or any other activity besides those required to manage the affairs of the Forum, its conferences and its publication activities. The Governing Board should arrange for funds for other uses to be channelled through another organization with appropriate legal status.
15.1 Regular accounts shall be kept of all receipts and expenses in order to register all financial operations in a clear and transparent manner. Accounts shall be subject to annual audit and periodic reports, including to the Annual General Assembly. Any other organization acting as Trustee shall be asked to provide a summary report of the movements in the accounts held in the name of the Forum.
16.1 No member of the Forum is personally liable or responsible for any transaction or engagement undertaken by the Forum, nor is the Forum responsible for the actions of any of its members unless specifically authorized by the Forum. Only the patrimony of the Forum is engaged by its own actions.
17.1 The Forum may only be dissolved by a formal vote put by the Governing Board to which an absolute majority of the total membership of the Forum must agree on the occasion of a Special General Assembly or of a general electronic vote convoked for this purpose. Provision shall be made for absent members to vote electronically during the Special General Assembly.
17.2 In the event of dissolution, the Governing Board will designate one or more liquidators. The designated liquidators will act in accordance with the instructions of the Governing Board. Funds held by Trustees shall be expended by the Trustees in the manner they deem to be pursuant to the aims of the Forum as set out in these Statutes.
17.3 The present Statutes may be amended by a majority vote of a General Assembly on the recommendation of the Governing Board, following due notice as defined in the By-laws. Provision shall be made for absent members to cast electronic votes on such amendments during the General Assembly.
Since the purpose of the Forum is to promote consultation and discussion, and it is envisaged that a variety of electronic discussion groups shall be promoted, the Forum formally includes the following rules as a part of its By-laws:
a) The Bahá'í Teachings on Consultation shall be adhered to at all times and reference may be made to them if a member is perceived to be violating their guidance.
b) Published codified rules concerning Netiquette may also be referred to in relation to e-mail communications, where they do not conflict with Bahá'í Teachings;
c) The following may be taken to be a summary of the most important provisions of the Bahá'í Teachings on Consultation and Netiquette:
- Courtesy of speech and respect for the personalities, ideas, and modes of presentation shall be maintained at all times;
- Attempts at humour should be signalled within the text of the message because humour is often related to culture; an attempt at humour is not an excuse for a lack of respect or courtesy to any human being, whether a member of the Forum or not.
- Immoderate language is not acceptable and the Governing Board shall be the judge of what is immoderate in the international context of the Forum.
d) The Governing Board has the right to make certain electronic fora moderated or unmoderated, and shall notify the membership of this decision. The purpose of a moderated forum is to reduce the quantity of material exchanged during the discussion and to reduce controversy.
e) The moderator of an electronic forum or chairman of a conference has the right to edit or curtail the contributions of members, reducing text contributions so that the basic arguments are presented, or to alter the language or presentation so that it conforms to what is considered acceptable.
f) The editing, or rejection, of a text shall not be considered an infringements of the human rights of free speech of the contributor.
g) Appeals against the decision of a moderator may be addressed by any member to the Governing Board, as provided for by Article 9.
a) A member is responsible for ensuring that the e-mail contact information possessed by the Forum remains valid and that any changes or problems are promptly conveyed to the Forum. The Governing Board is entitled to assume that an e-mail sent to the last known e-mail address has reached the member. It is the member's responsibility to verify that e-mail communications from the Forum are being received. Verification may be provided by asking the General Secretary to send a test message.
b) An Associate is similarly responsible for ensuring that the Forum has valid contact information. An Associate may not appeal decisions of the Governing Board. The only information provided by the Board concerning the Associates list will be to confirm or deny in response to a request by a properly identified individual or institution whether a named person is an Associate, an automatic copy of the request and the response being forwarded to the Associate.
a) If a member is judged by the Governing Board to have infringed the terms of the Statutes or By-laws of the Forum, or decisions of the Governing Board, then the Governing Board shall first communicate by e-mail to the member outlining the nature of the infraction and requesting the member to modify his or her behaviour. Should the member continue or resume after some time the same or similar behaviour, the Governing Board shall send a warning to the member by e-mail copying the original communication, detailing the further infraction(s), and requesting immediate cessation of the offending behaviour.
b) Continued infraction after the warning, as stipulated in a), shall lead to a change in membership from Member to Associate. The change shall be made by the Governing Board at a formal meeting as provided for in Article 11. The member shall be notified, and the member has 14 days to appeal the decision as provided for under Article 9.7 and these By-laws.
c) The change of membership will come into effect on the 15 day after the date the e-mail informing the member was dispatched unless an appeal has been lodged, in which case the member's rights, including the right to vote and be voted for, remain unchanged. The change in membership and the consequent loss of privileges will come into effect immediately if the appeal is rejected by the General Assembly. The member's directory information will be removed from the current WWW page, and all subsequent publications of the directory.
d) An Associate may request reinstatement as a Member at any time by acknowledging the facts of the infraction and promising not to behave in the same or similar manner in future. The Governing Board has the indisputable right to delay reinstatement until a calender year has passed since the actual change in the membership of the individual was implemented.
e) When an Associate is judged by the Governing Board to have infringed the terms of the Statutes or By-laws of the Forum, or decisions of the Governing Board, then the Governing Board shall first communicate by e-mail to the Associate outlining the nature of the infraction and requesting the Associate to modify his or her behaviour. Should the Associate continue or resume after some time the same or similar behaviour, the Governing Board shall send a warning by e-mail copying the original communication, detailing the further infraction(s), and requesting immediate cessation of the offending behaviour. Continued infraction after the warning shall lead to cancellation of Associate status and removal from the distribution lists.
a) Voting shall be in accordance with Bahá'í electoral principles, by secret ballot without nominations or campaigning.
b) For any election, two or more tellers will be designated by the officers officiating at the meeting, with the concurrence of the members present, to receive and count the votes, and to certify that correct procedures have been followed. For electronic votes, tellers will be designated by the Governing Board.
c) Votes cast electronically will be sent to an e-mail address specified by the Secretary where the tellers can print out the messages, verify the eligibility of the person casting the vote from their name and e-mail address, and then separate the vote from the name to ensure anonymity during vote counting. Absentee ballots should also be sent in a blank envelope within a second envelope showing the name of the person casting the vote, to ensure anonymity during counting.
d) Ballots with other than the correct number of names will be invalid, as will ballots with names repeated. If a ballot contains names that are unintelligible or ineligible, only the valid names will be counted.
e) In the event of a tie vote, a run-off ballot will be held between those tied, with only those physically present participating.
f) For a general vote of the membership on any issue, an electronic decision shall be construed to have been taken when the Secretary of the Governing Board sends each member a formulation of the resolution and the background text to the resolution, a deadline for voting is set, and more than half of the members of the Forum send in votes agreeing to the resolution. The background text will be the same as would be provided at a General Assembly. A deadline for voting is established by the secretary, which shall be no less than 10 days after the date the e-mail messages were sent out. A vote is registered by a member by copying the resolution back to the secretary appending the word(s) 'Agreed' or 'Not agreed'. A member whose vote has not been registered shall be construed to have voted 'Not agreed'.
g) The Governing Board may make ad hoc arrangements with earlier deadlines to allow members without e-mail to vote, but these arrangements will inevitably be less efficient than electronic voting.
a) The Governing Board shall consist of 7 members elected annually from the membership. A change to the number of members of the Governing Board shall take effect at the next election after the confirmation of the By-laws as stipulated in Article 13. At its first meeting after the election, the Governing Board may determine if it will co-opt one or more members, provided that such co-option is not more than one third of the elected members. Co-opted members may be invited to a consultation with the Governing Board but do not have voting rights and cannot be considered for a quorum.
b) A meeting of the Governing Board may take place electronically and shall be construed to have taken place when all members have received a draft agenda from the secretary or president before the agreed start to the meeting, a majority of members have agreed upon an agenda for the meeting, decisions have been made, all items of the agenda have been covered or a decision is made to postpone undecided items on the agenda for further discussion, the agreed duration of the meeting has passed, and final summary of the meeting is circulated.
c) All discussions must be e-mailed during the course of the meeting to each member of the Governing Board even if no response is received from the member.
d) A member is construed to be present at an electronic meeting if he or she has explicitly or implicitly acknowledged receipt of the draft Agenda to the chairman (or other designated officer) during the period between the designated start of the meeting and the formal close of the meeting. Furthermore, the member shall be construed to have been present during the entirety of the meeting if the secretary ensures that a copy of all the discussions on the items of the agreed agenda by all members of the Board is sent to the member promptly during the duration of the meeting and before it is formally closed.
e) A decision is construed to have been taken by the Governing Board when the Chairman formulates a decision and a majority of the members of the Board copy back the formulation attaching the word "Agreed". Such agreement can also be submitted collectively to the full set of decisions from a meeting.
f) A meeting of the Governing Board may also take place when all members have been informed of the time, date, and place of a meeting, and a majority of members are physically present. Members not physically present are construed to be absent, unless arrangements are made for their electronic participation during the meeting. Decisions are construed to be taken when agreed to by a majority of those present. Minutes of such meetings must be circulated to all members of the Governing Board.
a) Any Member, but not an Associate, may appeal any decision of the Governing Board, including changes to the member's status.
b) The appeal is made initially to the Governing Board, and if rejected may be placed before the entire membership, either by a general vote or at the General Assembly.
c) In the event of an appeal, the secretary shall send by e-mail to all members a copy of the original decision, the text of the appeal, the response of the Governing Board, and a formal resolution that the appeal be upheld.
d) The text of the appeal shall be composed by the member making the appeal. The text shall be no longer than 5000 English characters in length and shall not be edited by the Governing Board or its members in any way, except to truncate the message to 5000 characters by mechanically removing all text after the 5000th character. The text of the response of the Governing Board may be no longer than 5000 characters in length. A longer appeal and response may be made if both the Governing Board and the member are in agreement. Background information, correspondence or other relevant materials may be included after the texts of the appeal and the response if both the member and the Governing Board are in agreement.
e) A date is set by the secretary as a deadline for a vote. The deadline shall be no less than 10 days after e-mails have been sent out to all members.
f) A vote is registered by a member by copying the text of the original decision and the word(s) 'Agreed' meaning the member agrees to the resolution that the appeal is upheld in which case the original decision is overturned, or 'Not Agreed' meaning the resolution that the appeal is not upheld in which case the original decision is confirmed.
g) An absolute majority of the total of all members of the Forum must vote 'Agreed' for the decision of the Governing Board to be overturned.
h) A member who has not registered a vote shall be construed to have voted 'Not Agreed'.
i) Once a decision has been made by the Governing Board, the appeal to the Governing Board has been rejected, the appeal to the decision of the Governing Board has been rejected by a general electronic vote or vote in a General Assembly as provided for above, the decision shall be final and legally binding on all members of the Forum in all the jurisdictions of the world, provided such decision does not violate their rights under the laws and constitution of the countries in which they reside.
j) Repeated appeals to a decision of the Governing Board are not permitted.
a) The texts of amendments to the Statutes, and any proposal to dissolve the Forum, must be circulated to all members at least 3 months before the General Assembly. The Agenda for the General Assembly, proposals for new By-laws, changes or annulments of existing By-laws, appeals against decisions of the Governing Board and the Governing Board s response, and the list of members eligible for election, must be circulated to all members at least 10 days in advance of the time and date of the General Assembly.
b) All By-laws adopted, amended or annulled by the Governing Board since the previous General Assembly and not approved by a general electronic vote must be voted on at the General Assembly.
c) In the event of an appeal against a Governing Board decision to rescind a member's voting rights, such an appeal must be considered first on the agenda. If the appeal is rejected the member's voting rights are removed and the member is not eligible to vote or be voted for.
d) Any changes to the Statutes or By-laws recommended by the Governing Board should be confirmed before all other matters.
e) Voting and participating members may vote on any and all points of the agenda according to the procedure in section D of the By-laws. All votes must have been received by the secretary or the tellers at the address and by the deadline set by the secretary, or 24 hours before the start of the General Assembly, whichever is later. The time and date the votes are sent are not construed to be the time and date of receipt.
a) The Governing Board may establish an operating fund for secretariat expenses under the responsibility of the General Secretary, a conference fund for expenses associated with the annual conference and General Assembly, and a publications fund for income and expenditures associated with Forum publications. The budgets and management procedures for each should be determined by the Governing Board.
b) If the funds of the Forum grow to a size where more rigorous management is necessary, they should be entrusted to an appropriate institution. The Governing Board should request an appropriate institution such as a National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of a country chosen by the Governing Board to act as Trustee for such funds. Different National Spiritual Assemblies may be approached to act as Trustee for different funds if such a division shall be judged more effective by the Governing Board. All trustee National Spiritual Assemblies shall be informed of the disposition and trust conditions of all other funds. The Governing Board shall conclude a written statement of trust with the Trustee responsible for a Fund of the Forum, or an equivalent document as might be required under the laws of the country of the Trustee. The statement of trust shall specify the sources of income for the Fund, the procedure to be followed in the event of monies being received from an unacceptable or unknown source, the expenditures permitted from the Fund, the name(s) of the administrators or authorizing signatories of the Fund, and the procedure to be followed in the event of the dissolution of the Forum.
Last updated 9 October 2016