Letter to the Editor

Proposal to change Statutes

Dear Editors:

The U.S. National Committee for Crystallography (USNCCr) has proposed seven changes to the IUCr Statutes and By-Laws. For any/all of the changes to take effect they must be ratified by the General Assembly (GA) at the Osaka Congress. The intent of these proposed changes is to ensure maximum diversity in the membership of the Executive Committee (EC) and to emphasize the role of the GA as the forum at which crystallographers direct the work of the Union. The proposed changes fall into three categories.

The first group concerns the number of candidates which must be nominated for the offices of the EC:

1. By-Law §8.5. The second paragraph would be amended to read: At least two nominees shall be presented to the General Assembly for consideration as candidates for election to one of these offices.

2. By-Law §8.6 The following phrase would be deleted: If there are not more candidates than vacancies, the nominations shall be presented to the General Assembly and the candidates shall be considered as elected.

The deletion in §8.6 articulates the election process in light of the changes proposed in §8.5. The current Statutes and By-Laws make it very clear that the ultimate authority of the Union is the GA. In the past it was common for the EC to nominate only one candidate for an office. While having a single candidate for an office undoubtedly simplifies the election process, we feel that the duties of the delegates to the GA are not merely to endorse the recommendations of the EC. We believe that there is no shortage of qualified crystallographer candidates, and are very gratified that the EC has nominated multiple candidates for the election in Osaka. We see no reason that this should not be the case in future assemblies, and would like to enshrine that notion in the By-Laws.

The second group of changes concerns the composition of the EC:

3. Add to Statute §6.1g: one representative from each of the Regional Associates.

The Regional Associates are defined in Statute §1.2i. Representatives of the Regional Associates may attend the General Assembly (By-Laws 1.4), but have no voting power. The three current Regional Associates – the American, Asian, and European Crystallographic Associations – are becoming more important to crystallographers and to the Union. We believe that this growing importance represents an important evolution in the Union and should be recognized by permanent representation on the EC. The benefits of broader representation on the EC should exceed the relatively minor increased costs. It has been noted that this change will introduce members to the EC who have not been elected by the GA. We view this as a good thing, as these representatives will have been chosen by a much larger electorate than the fewer than 100 delegates to the GA. Additionally, while the practice of crystallography is currently distributed approximately equally across the three Regional Associates the distribution of votes in the GA is not (ACA –13, ECA – 47, AsCA – 17). Additional representation from Asia and the western hemisphere will help the EC better reflect the current diversity of our science.

4. IUCr Executive Secretary, Mike Dacombe, has pointed out that this change in the composition of the Executive Committee would require a change in Statute §5.10(b) to take account of the fact that the representatives of the Regional Associates are not currently elected by the General Assembly and reads: elect the president, the Vice-President, the General Secretary, the Treasurer, and the six ordinary members of the Union [Statues 6.1 and 6.3]. We should, of course, have a consistent set of Statutes!

5. Statute §6.4 Insert a paragraph describing how these members would be chosen as the next to last paragraph: The representative of each Regional Associate will be that person elected by his or her respective association membership. They are not eligible for immediate re-election to the same office.

Our intent and assumption is that each of the Regional Associates will determine their own selection process, as what works best for one region may not be best for another. Because the other members of the EC serve from GA to GA, it may be best for each Regional Associate to create a new office, rather than have the President of the Regional Associate serve as the EC representative. The ultimate decision would rest with the Regional Associate and the process could well differ from one region to the next.

6. Statute §6.2 Add a third paragraph: The representatives of the Regional Associates are not considered when determining whether there are two or more Officers from any one County.

The intent of the original “not more than two” restriction is clear, and enhances diversity. We see no reason to change it because additional diversity has been incorporated into the membership of the executive Committee.
The final proposed change is largely symbolic:

7. By-Law §1.4 would be amended to remove the following phrase: but they shall not take part in the discussions, unless specifically invited or permitted to do so by the Chair, and they shall have no voting power.

The current wording of this By-Law could be thought to suggest that the establishment does not wish to hear from anyone who could be construed as an ‘outsider’. Such a view may be in keeping with the parliamentary model of the GA but we view the GA as a structured gathering of the worldwide family of crystallographers at which all are welcome. This change would emphasize the right of any member of our crystallographic family to speak at the General Assembly. It would, of course, fall to the Chair to manage any discussions regardless of their source.

We believe that the proposed changes would make the IUCr even more representative of the growing and increasingly diverse crystallographic community.

Jim Kaduk, Chair - USNCCr
Katherine Kantardjieff, Vice-Chair-USNCCr

Editors note: Space limitations prevent us from reproducing the full By-Laws and Statures of the IUCr here. They can be found at www.iucr.org/iucr-top/iucr/statutes.html.