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Letter from the President

[Sine Larsen]Sine Larsen
When I returned from the magnificent IUCr Congress in Florence after nine years on the Executive Committee as General Secretary and Treasurer, I had not imagined that I should become a member of the Executive Committee again and this time as the Chair of the Committee. It is a great honour for me to be elected President of the IUCr for the next triennium by the General Assembly and I shall do my very best along with the other members of the Executive Committee to further advance science and education in crystallography.

The IUCr was established in 1948 and is now 60 years old. In Japan the 60th birthday marks a significant point in life. It was therefore very appropriate to have the 60 years celebrations at the Congress in Japan. Many of the past IUCr Presidents contributed to the memorable anniversary celebrations: Ted Baker by an inspiring anniversary lecture illustrating the impact of crystallography, Andre Authier, Philip Coppens, Theo Hahn and Henk Schenk by open forum lectures to the public and young students, and last but not least, Bill Duax with a magnificent photo exhibition. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them warmly for all the work and dedication they put into their excellent contributions.

Publication of an international crystallographic journal was the driving force behind the creation of the Union, and this year Acta Crystallographica can also celebrate its 60th anniversary by the publication of the special issue Crystallography across the Sciences 2. Acta Crystallographica has developed into six specialized journals A to F, supplemented by Journal of Applied Crystallography and Journal of Synchrotron Radiation. The excellent staff in the Chester office has ensured the leading position of the Union among the scientific publishers. Their expertise in electronic publishing has been essential for the production of an electronic version of the International Tables. The publication of journals and books remains a core activity of the Union and keeping this activity at the forefront is one of the important tasks of the Executive Committee.

The growth of the journals reflects the growth of the IUCr. When the Union was formed in 1948 it had four founding Adhering Bodies representing four countries, now the IUCr has 40 Adhering Bodies representing 50 countries. A similar growth that reflects the impact of crystallography on many different scientific areas can be seen in the evolution of the number of Commissions. With the approval of the formation of the Commission on Crystallography in Art and Cultural Heritage at the Osaka Congress, this number has reached twenty compared to 1948, when there were six IUCr Commissions.

The work of the Union is directed by the General Assembly composed of the delegates from the Adhering Bodies as described by the Statutes and By-Laws of the Union. When one reads the Statutes and By-Laws it is clear that a lot of consideration was put into them by the founding fathers and mothers of the Union to protect the international nature of the Union and to ensure that developments of the Union are driven by science and not by national interests. The Statutes and By-Laws were last amended in 1999 to make them gender neutral.

In view of the evolution of the now 60 years old IUCr and the discussions that took place at the General Assembly in Osaka, it may now be timely to have a closer look at the Statutes and By-Laws. It was agreed at the first meeting of the new Executive Committee to establish a special committee for this purpose, so possible changes could be ready for approval at the next General Assembly in Madrid.

Sine Larsen