(includes track-changes of the changes made by IRSA Council meeting 30 July 2004, which will need to be ratified at the 2008 World Congress)
By-law 1 – The Standing of the By-Laws
By-law 2 – Membership Dues
By-law 3 – Procedure for Payment of Dues and Declaration of Representatives
By-law 4 – Procedure for Election of President
By-law 5 – Changeover of Office
By-law 6 – Election of Other Office Bearers
By-law 7 – Casual Vacancies
By-law 8 – Duties of Executive Officers
By-law 9 – Role of Council Members
By-law 10 – IRSA Fiscal Year
By-law 11 – Financial Reports
By-law 12 – Provisions for Amending the By-Laws
IRSA PROCEDURAL MANUAL
Role of the Program and Local Arrangements Chairs
Administrative Arrangements relating to Congresses
Meetings of the IRSA General Assembly
Meetings of the Council
Meetings of the Executive Committee
Website and Communications
Reimbursement of Expenses
The Constitution of the International Rural Sociology Association (IRSA) (as amended) specifies the purposes and structure of IRSA. As provided for under Article 10 of the Constitution, these By-laws and regulations provide more specific instruction about the implementation of items mentioned in the Constitution and other matters as determined by the IRSA Council. The Constitution shall have priority over the By-laws.
The membership fee for a Regional Organisation claiming membership of IRSA under Article 3 b(1) of the Constitution shall be set at the time of joining and shall be negotiated with them according to their size and capacity to pay. The membership fee shall be levied for the four year period from one World Congress to the next. The Rural Sociological Society (RSS) shall pay a total fee for the four year period of $4,000. The European Society for Rural Sociology (ESRS) shall pay a total fee for the four year period of $1,200. The Australian and Oceanic Network for rural social research and community development (AON), shall pay a total fee for the four year period of $400. The Latin American Rural Sociology Association (ALASRU) shall pay a total fee for the four year period of $200. The Asian Rural Sociology Association (ARSA) shall each pay a total fee for the four year period of $100. The fee may be paid in a single payment, or may be paid in either 2 or 4 installments at the determination of the member association. If the payment of the prescribed fee represents a major difficulty for a regional organisation, it may apply in writing to the Secretary-Treasurer for a fee waiver which shall considered by the Executive Committee. The prescribed fees shall be reviewed by the Council at the Outgoing Council meeting at each World Congress.
The membership fee for an Associate Organisation claiming membership of IRSA under Article 3 b(2) of the Constitution and for Special Interest Groups joining IRSA under Article 3 b(3) shall be set at the time of their joining and shall be negotiated with them according to their size and capacity to pay. For these two categories of membership, the fee shall be levied for the four year period from one World Congress to the next. As an indicative guide, except where there is regional disadvantage, organisations with a membership of greater than 800 members, the total fee for the four year period shall be $600. In the case of organizations with between 200 and 800 members, the fee shall be a total of $400; and in the case of organisations with less than 200 members, it shall be a total of $200. The fee may be paid in a single payment, or may be paid in either 2 or 4 installments at the determination of the member association. If the payment of the prescribed fee represents a major difficulty for a regional organisation, it may apply in writing to the Secretary-Treasurer for a fee waiver which shall considered by the Executive Committee. The prescribed fees shall be reviewed by the Council at the Outgoing Council meeting at each World Congress.
Individual membership of IRSA as provided for in Article 3 b(5) of the Constitution shall be US$20 for the period from one annual congress to the next.
In the case of all categories of membership, dues shall be payable in advance.
At about 18 months before each World Congress, the IRSA Secretary-Treasurer shall issue invoices to the Treasurer of each member association. This invoice shall request the Treasurer of the member association to confirm that membership category as defined in Article 3 of the Constitution, and to pay the membership fees appropriate to that category as specified in By-law 2.
The invoice for dues shall be dispatched together with a request to each member association to declare their representatives to the IRSA Council for the next term. Payment of the Invoice for dues should be accompanied by advice to IRSA of (1) the names and contact details of Association’s representatives to IRSA who will become IRSA Council members for the forthcoming term; and (2) the names and contact details of the Association’s office bearers. Payment of dues and notification of representatives for the next term must be advised to the IRSA Secretary-Treasurer six months before a World Congress. The IRSA Secretary-Treasurer shall confirm the eligibility of the nominated persons to be representatives on the IRSA Council.
At six (6) months prior to each World Congress, the Secretary-Treasurer shall call for nominations for the position of President. Nominations will close four (4) months before the Congress.
Candidates for the position of President will be accepted from individuals who:
(a) have previously been a member of the IRSA Council (at any time in their lives) including as Secretary-Treasurer, OR
(b) are among the nominees of a member association for the coming term.
Individuals are ineligible to stand if they are :
1. from the same member association as the retiring President; OR
2. have held the position of IRSA President previously.
Nominations are self-nominations and need only be signed by the nominee. Nominations will be accepted by, inter alia, e-mail submission. The Secretary-Treasurer shall acknowledge receipt of nominations. The IRSA Secretary-Treasurer shall determine the eligibility of each nomination in respect of the conditions above.
The IRSA Secretary-Treasurer shall conduct a ballot by e-mail of the members of the outgoing Council for the position of President and shall announce the result at least one month prior to the World Congress. The election shall be conducted by the manner of preferential voting such as used, for example, in Australia. The IRSA Secretary-Treasurer shall advise all Council Members of the result, and shall make a general announcement such as by listserv announcement and newsflash on the IRSA website.
Where the Secretary-Treasurer is a contender for the position of President, the outgoing President shall conduct the elections.
Should the President-elect be a member of the incoming Council as a representative of a member Association, that member association shall be invited to nominate a replacement. This is to reinforce the notion that the President’s role is to represent IRSA as a whole, while Council members are the liaison between IRSA and the member associations.
The Changeover in Office shall typically occur in conjunction with a World Congress. Typically there shall be a Meeting of the Outgoing Council chaired by the outgoing President prior to the World Congress (or at least in the early days of the Congress) and there would be a meeting of the incoming Council towards the end of the Congress chaired by the incoming President.
As a courtesy and to ensure continuity of the Association and to facilitate the induction of new Council members, the members of the incoming Council should be invited in an observer status to the meeting of the Outgoing Council. The Outgoing President shall attend the meeting of the Incoming Council in an observer status.
There would normally be only one General Assembly at each World Congress. The General Assembly is chaired by the outgoing President. However, the new President shall be announced and shall be invited to make remarks about the intended program for the next term of office.
Formal transfer of Presidential responsibilities would occur at the close of the General Assembly, although there may be carryover functions required of the outgoing President who should mentor the incoming President.
Elections for the positions of First and Second Vice President shall be conducted at the first meeting of the new Council. Candidates for these offices shall be those people who are voting members of the new Council. They may be present at the Council meeting or they may have declared their intention to stand for these positions with the Secretary-Treasurer prior to the meeting. The elections shall be conducted sequentially. Nominees for these positions must not be from the same member association as the President and only one of these positions may be filled by a representative of any one member association.
The election shall be conducted by the incoming President. In the event of the absence of the President, the IRSA Secretary-Treasurer or Outgoing President shall conduct the election. In the event of the absence of President, Outgoing President and Secretary-Treasurer, those Council members present shall first appoint an Electoral Officer from among their midst. The Electoral Officer shall conduct an election for the position of First Vice President. The First Vice President shall then assume the duties of President until such time as the President resumes duty.
In the event that a Council Member is not able to complete a full term of office, the member association may nominate a replacement for the remainder of the unexpired term. If the unexpired term is less than 24 months before the World Congress, it shall not constitute a term for purposes of succession for the replacement individual. Should the length of the unexpired term be longer than 24 months, then the period will be regarded as a full term for that individual.
Proposed amendments to the by-laws and regulations may be initiated by members of the Executive Committee, the Council, or any five members representing at least two of the sponsoring organizations. Such amendments must be approved by the Council.
By-laws and regulations approved by the Council may be considered valid until such time as they are duly ratified or rejected by the next General Assembly. The Council must fully advertise proposed amendments for all members six months in advance of General Assembly meetings. This provision safeguards the legal validity of IRSA to respond and comply with requirements for its functioning in reference to its purpose as set forth in Article 1 and its operating, as a non-profit organization.
IRSA Council members have a dual role. They are to represent the interests of their organisation in IRSA, and they are to represent IRSA in their organisation. They must be an effective communication link between IRSA and their organisations. They should keep the Executive of their Organisation, and the members at large, informed of IRSA activities and issues, and they should advise the IRSA Executive Committee of matters pertaining to their organisation that may affect or otherwise interest IRSA.
Council members should make every effort to attend in-person meetings of the IRSA Council, and should respond promptly to e-mail discussion relating to IRSA issues.
The IRSA fiscal year will be from January 1 to December 31.
The Secretary-Treasurer shall keep the financial records of the Association and shall prepare a statement of the financial accounts of the Association for presentation at each Council Meeting and General Assembly. The Secretary-Treasurer shall have the financial records of the Association audited in the six months prior to a normal General Assembly and shall present the Auditor’s Report to the General Assembly. A senior figure associated with IRSA shall be asked to act as Auditor.
As defined in Article 10 of the Constitution, proposed amendments to the By-laws and regulations may be initiated by members of the Executive Committee, the Council, or any five members representing at least two of the sponsoring organisations. Such amendments must be approved by the Council.
By-laws and regulations approved by the Council may be considered valid until such time as they are duly ratified or rejected by the next General Assembly. The Council must fully advertise proposed amendments for all members six months in advance of General Assembly meetings.
IRSA PROCEDURAL MANUAL
The items outlined in the Procedural Manual are not constitutionally mandated, nor are they By-laws that require ratification by a General Assembly. However they represent procedures and arrangements agreed to by the IRSA Council and are presented in this manner to enable continuity from one term of Council to the next, and to enable articulation, communication and transparency of procedure.
IRSA shall auspice a World Congress of Rural Sociology, normally planned to occur every four years. No two successive Congresses shall be in the same region of the world. Congresses may be conducted as stand-alone conferences, or may be conducted in conjunction with associations with related interests.
The Council shall endeavour to select a site for the next World Congress in time for an announcement to be made at the each World Congress. In selecting the site for a World Congress, the Council shall give consideration to the following factors:
- Geopolitical balance in the history of location of World Congresses;
- Financial soundness, e.g. likely number of participants, availability of subsidies; institutional support; size and type of risks;
- The trade-off between financial surplus returned to IRSA and the ‘developmental benefit’ relevant to the mission of IRSA. While it is expected that all congresses have an acceptable financial buffer, the surplus expected and risk taken will be off-set against other factors including the health of IRSA’s finances and the developmental benefit of the Congress;
- Commitment and synergy of the organising team;
- Appropriateness of the intended theme (for example its internationality and relevance to current international rural sociology);
- Adequacy, appropriateness and accessibility of the venue;
- Notwithstanding the above, rural locations may be preferred to non-rural, and locations with high cultural or natural heritage value, or that are otherwise significant will be preferable.
The procedure for selecting a conference location is as follows:
- At the mid term Council meeting (the meeting in between World Congresses), or earlier, the Council shall determine a priority area or areas for the hosting of the World Congress some 6 or more years later. This shall be made widely known.
- The Secretary-Treasurer shall call for expressions of interest (preliminary nominations) in hosting a World Congress and restate the geographic area to be given priority approximately five years prior to the holding of the World Congress.
- The closing date for expressions of interest shall be 6 months before the meeting of the IRSA Council at which the decision will be made (and the World Congress at which the decision will be announced).
- Expressions of interest do not necessarily have to be complete in all details, but need to specify key aspects about the venue, the proposed organisational arrangements, and program details. Because of IRSA’s belief that good conferences have a synergy between local arrangements and program content, the expressions of interest are asked to nominate not only the Local Arrangements Chair, but also the Program Chair, and the likely theme of the Congress.
- The expressions of interest are to be considered by the Executive Committee, and a short list of those bids meeting the criteria of IRSA shall be invited to make formal presentations to the first meeting of the IRSA Council at the World Congress. The short listED nominees are to be notified of their standing no later than 3 months before the World Congress. There shall be no limit on the number of short listed bids.
- On the basis of the presentations of the short listed applications, the (Outgoing) IRSA Council will select the venue for the following Congress site, or may delay the decision and call for further nominations. Although the decision shall be taken by the meeting of the outgoing Council, the opinions of the incoming Council members present (especially the incoming President) shall be considered in such a decision.
- The winning bid would be invited to make a presentation at an appropriate time during the World Congress (such as in the Closing Ceremony or General Assembly) to advertise the following Congress.
- Following the announcement of the winning bid, a Memorandum of Understanding shall be drawn up between the bidding organisation or institution and IRSA. The IRSA Council, especially the IRSA President and Executive Committee, shall work together with the winning bid to bring about a successful conference.
- The winner bidder is not strictly bound by what was stated in the Expression of Interest, and may develop the theme as they progress towards the Congress.
Expressions of Interest may take any form, but it is recommended that they include the following details:
- Contact Person for Bid.
- Name of the Auspicing Association/Organisation/Institution.
- Name and short biosketches/experience of the proposed Local Arrangements Chair and Program Chair.
- Theme of the Congress.
- Dates for the Congress (dates do not need to be set for the Expression of Interest)
- Proposed meeting site and description of it (capacity, etc.)
- Travel between the nearest international airport and the proposed meeting site facilities.
- Accommodations available to participants, including hotel rooms, university dormitories, etc. and projected room prices.
- Logistical and financial arrangements for the Congress, including likely registration fees, and discounts, and projected honorariums and other support provided to speakers. Proposed financial surplus to be returned to IRSA and other financial arrangements that are pertinent. If no surplus is planned, provide a justification.
- Sources of financial support for the Congress at your site, and efforts to be taken to secure sponsorships.
- Translation services and language policy
- Considerations deemed relevant to the local context (security, standard of living etc).
- Touristic, educational, or aesthetic advantages of your site (Tours your Congress site might feature).
The name of the Program Chair and Local Arrangements Chair and other organisational details, shall be stated in the Expression of Interest, and shall feature in any presentation to the IRSA Council. The actual duties to be assigned to each individual is the responsibility of the winning bidding team.
Proposed organisational, administrative and financial arrangements can be specified in the Expression of Interest. These are to be formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding between IRSA and the winning bidder.
In general terms, the following principles apply:
- IRSA will not advance monies to congress organisers. Host institutions should provide support including up-front funding if it is required. Early sponsorship and early registration payments can be used to provide an income stream to finance a conference. On rare occasions, IRSA might pay a deposit to secure a venue.
- While conferences that return all surpluses to IRSA are preferred, where conferences are run in conjunction with other organisations, or are managed by institutions, those other organisations or institutions will be entitled to a share of the surplus which should be negotiated as part of the conference proposal. If 100 percent of the surplus is not to be returned to IRSA, this must be clearly stated in the expression of interest.
- Conference income may be used to pay for all costs associated with a conference including the use of registered professional conference organisers. Proposals that include the payment of salary to individuals within the host institution or co-auspicing centre will be examined very closely, and such an arrangement should be clearly indicated in the expression of interest. Precise details about what will be regarded as a conference expense and paid for from the conference budget, should be clearly stated in the Memorandum of Understanding.
- Congress organisers need to be cognizant of the need for an acceptable financial margin. This is partly to allow for unanticipated contingencies, but also to contribute to the general revenue. Ideally, Congresses should plan to produce around $10,000 surplus to IRSA. This expectation may be relaxed when a clear developmental benefit related to IRSA’s mission may result from it. If congress organisers are not intending to achieve this level of surplus, they must clearly state this in the Expression of Interest. The level of surplus will be negotiated with the IRSA Council, and will be stated in the Memorandum of Understanding.
- Because it is understood that most attendees to the Congress will need to present papers, there will likely be a general rule of no support to speakers. However, special ‘keynote’ speakers may be supported if this is in the best interests of the Congress. It would generally be considered to be inappropriate to pay speakers for lost professional time, but in the event that such speakers were self-employed, and their presence was beneficial to IRSA and/or consistent with the theme of a Congress, salary payments to speakers would be acceptable. Congress organisers will need to consider seriously the merits or otherwise of such a proposal and make a case to the Executive Committee.
At each World Congress, and as otherwise provided for by the Constitution, there will be a General Assembly of the members of IRSA. The General Assembly is presided over by the outgoing President. The meetings are typically informative since the main business of IRSA is done by the Council. However certain key decisions such as changes to the Constitution, and ratification of changes to the By-laws must be made by the General Assembly. An agenda for each meeting shall be prepared and notified to the membership. It should be noted that the Constitution specifies the period of notice that needs to be given for changes to the Constitution and By-laws. Unless determined otherwise by the Chair, or as otherwise requested by a member, voting on all motions shall be by show of hands. Meetings shall be conducted formally, minutes shall be recorded by the Secretary-Treasurer, and a list of those attending recorded. The minutes, whence approved by the President, will be circulated to the Council. Following Council endorsement of the minutes, they will be made public to the membership via the IRSA website. A motion for approval of the minutes of the previous meeting shall be made towards the beginning of each General Assembly. The General Assembly provides an opportunity to provide information about IRSA to IRSA members at large, and to seek feedback on the activities and direction of IRSA.
The general assembly must be scheduled for at least 2 hours and must be given a priority spot in the congress program.
A typical Agenda for a General Assembly would comprise the following:
- Call to order and welcome
- Announcement of the incoming President
- Introduction to Council members (outgoing and incoming)
- Introduction of Executive Officers of Member Associations
- Minutes from previous General Assembly
(motion to accept minutes)
- Report on Matters arising from the minutes
- Report on IRSA activities for the past term and tabling of quadrennial report written by Secretary Treasurer (questions) (motion to accept quadrennial report)
- Financial Report by Secretary-Treasurer, and presentation of Auditor’s Report (questions) (motion to accept Financial Report)
- Report on the current Congress (Program and Local Arrangements Chairs)
- Feedback and response about the Congress
- Changes to Constitution (if applicable)
- Changes to By-laws (if applicable)
- ** other scheduled business items **
- Plans for the Future (questions)
- Discussion about Future Congress plans (presentation ?) (questions)
- Statement by Incoming President
- Other business from the floor
Each Council will meet at least three times during a term of office. In addition to a meeting of the outgoing Council at the beginning of the Congress, and a meeting of the incoming Council towards the end of each Congress, there will typically be one formal Council meeting held sometime between Congresses at a venue so as to attract maximum participation from Council members, for example such as the World Congress of Sociology, or in conjunction with a conference of one of the member associations. The date and place of Council meetings is set by the President having regard to maximising attendance of members. It is encouraged that this meeting be an in-person meeting, but it may be held as an electronic meeting when this is desirable.
Council meetings are presided over by the President. An agenda for each meeting shall be prepared and notified to the Council members in good time so that they may consult with the executives of the associations they represent if necessary. Unless determined otherwise by the Chair, or as otherwise requested by a member, voting on all motions shall be by show of hands. Meetings shall be conducted formally, minutes shall be recorded by the Secretary-Treasurer, and a list of those attending recorded. The minutes, whence approved by the President, will be circulated to the Council. An email motion to approve the minutes shall be undertaken by email within a period of six weeks after the meeting. Provided that no issue is declared confidential, once approved by the Council, the minutes will be made public to the membership via the IRSA website.
The Council is the principal governing body of IRSA and shall set general policy governing the activities of the Association. Because the business that will face the Council will likely vary from meeting to meeting, an indicative agenda may not be appropriate. However, likely topics of discussion will include:
- Activities of the member associations
- Current and future conferences
- Agenda for the General Assembly
Much Council business will be undertaken by e-mail. In general, formal decisions should be delayed until the next in-person meeting of the Council. However when this is not practical, the President will facilitate an electronic discussion of the issue. When the President has deemed that the issue has had sufficient discussion, the President shall than advise the Secretary-Treasurer to prepare a formal motion and to conduct an electronic vote. In an electronic vote, a motion shall be declared passed if it is approved by an absolute majority of all Council members in good standing at the time the vote is conducted. The Secretary-Treasurer shall keep a record of such decisions and shall include a statement of these decisions in the report that the Secretary-Treasurer shall prepare for each General Assembly.
Council members who fail to respond to a motion within four weeks shall be declared ‘incommunicado’ and therefore will not be considered to be part of the voting process for that motion and in the determination of a majority.
The Executive Committee comprises the various Executive Officers of the Association and shall undertake day-to-day management of the Association. The Executive Committee may meet in person such as at meetings of member associations, however the majority of the business of the Executive Committee is likely to be done by e-mail. Decision making of the Executive Committee will usually be on a consensual basis, although should the President or Secretary-Treasure determine that a formal vote is required, or if it is requested by any member of the Executive Committee, the procedures for voting applying to a Council meeting shall be followed.
The website is an important centre for communication about IRSA as well as a repository of information about IRSA. It facilitates transparency in all IRSA actions and procedures. In addition to general infoDiscussion about Future Congress plans (presentation ?) (questions)rmation about IRSA and information about current activities, the website should contain the curr/ap
ent version of the Constitution, By-laws and Regulations, the Procedural Handbook, and names and contact details of Council members. Minutes of past General Assembly and Council meetings (if not declared confidential) should be available on the website. The website should provide useful links especially to the websites of the member associations.
As described in By-laws, the Council members play an important liaison role between the member associations they represent and IRSA.
Article 9c of the Constitution provides for the reimbursement of expenses incurred in the course of undertaking IRSA activities. However, IRSA is an association of limited means and can not reimburse all expenditure incurred in the discharge of the duties of Council members. It is expected that Council members attend Council meetings without reimbursement of expenses by IRSA. Nevertheless, there will be times when there are additional demands, especially of Executive Committee members, to advance the interests of IRSA and when the reimbursement of direct out-of-pocket expenses is appropriate. These may include such things as planning meetings for World Congresses, the development of new initiatives, and liaison with member associations.
The following principles should be used as a guide to determining when reimbursement will apply, and under what conditions:
- For most situations when reimbursement is being considered, all other possible avenues of funding should be exhausted;
- Ideally there should be some form of cost sharing with another body;
- Expenses associated with a specific World Congress, such as site visits and planning meetings, may be paid by IRSA initially, but should be regarded as costs of a Congress, and reimbursed to IRSA from the Congress budget;
Because it is desirable that the President (or a representative of the President) and/or the Secretary-Treasurer make connections with all member associations of IRSA in order to strengthen the relationship between IRSA and its member associations and to promote the World Congress and other initiatives, IRSA will cover, subject to the guidelines above, the travel, registration fees and accommodation expenses of the President (or a representative of the President) and/or the Secretary-Treasurer for any meeting of a member association that the President (or a representative of the President) and/or the Secretary-Treasurer is able to attend other than their own ‘home’ association. In general, this should be limited to participation in only one meeting of each member association during the four year term.
In recognition of the key roles to the Association by the Outgoing President and Secretary-Treasurer, the expenses associated with their attendance at the World Congress shall be covered by the Association from IRSA general revenue. The expenses of the Program Chair and Local Arrangements Chair would be covered from the Congress budget. These expenses include travel, accommodation, and registration costs. In many cases, accommodation costs may be absorbed by the venue.
At no time will salary costs of Executive Committee members be paid, nor will “per diem” or daily living allowances be paid.
The Executive Committee shall be asked for their approval of any specific expenditure, and when financial support is required, there should be a clear benefit to IRSA. A short report will be prepared for each funded activity.
All expenditure must be clearly identified in the financial report prepared by the Secretary-Treasurer.