What does it mean to be a WRI Council member?
The Council consists of section representatives, internationally elected Council members, and the Chair and Treasurer qua office - all these are referred to as Council members.
Council meetings are attended Council members, observers from Associates, and other observers. Council is a place for administrative business such as review of finances and the Annual Report from Exec and staff, political discussion, priority setting, and practical planning. Except in a year of the International Conference, the Council meets once a year. Council meetings, which last for 2-3 days, take place connected to a 2-4 day Seminar organized by our host group.
WRI International Conferences now take place every 3-4 years. In the year of the Conference, there are two short meetings - one of the retiring Council just before the Conference and one of the new Council just after, where there will be a discussion of responsiblities.
Meetings usually take place in July or August.
Responsibilities at meetings:
Council members should be willing to be a resource person during the Seminar if asked. They should also be willing to help facilitate meetings and be on committees that meet during Council.
Responsibilities between meetings:
The progress of WRI as a network and organization depends on people enthused at a meeting, being able to carry out responsibilities you take on once you get home. Council members should be realistic about what responsibilities they can take between meetings, while remembering that we cannot function well without an active Council. Council members automatically receive the Council minutes, Executive minutes, Executive agenda prior to the Exec meeting for comments, and are on the wri internal, wri-info, and CO alert email lists. In addition, they will receive the Annual Report and the Broken Rifle.
A Council members' main responsibilities are to read information sent by the WRI office, participate in the discussions, share information through the wri-internal email list, and engage in the work being undertaken.
Council members are representatives of WRI and should distribute WRI literature, especially the quarterly Broken Rifle and promote WRI conferences.
Council members with more time available, there is always a lot more you could do:
Fundraising: WRI needs to build our donor base and raise funds through writing grant proposals. This work needs to be done around the world, it cannot all be done from the office. A first step could be to raise money for your own costs to take part in WRI events.
International meetings: Often WRI is asked to take part in international conferences or to send a speaker to particular groups. Council members will be asked their areas of interest and expertiseand about their availability to represent WRI at meetings.
Up to twelve members of the Council are elected by a ballot of Sections and Associates at the Business Meeting of the International Conference, and by postal ballot. They are elected until the next International Conference. Members of Sections and Individual members are eligible to be on Council. These 12 don't represent any affiliate, but are chosen for the contribution they personally can make. Elected Council members cannot appoint a substitute if they cannot attend a meeting.
Each internationally elected Council member is responsible for booking their own tickets and is expected to contribute a minimum of 50 pounds. WRI then contributes a maximum of 150 pounds towards the fares of
European and North American elected Council members, and up to 350 for others. WRI cannot pay for anything above the cheapest fare. WRI will be responsible for covering the cost of these Council members' accommodations during the Council meeting. Council members are expected to cover their own costs during the Seminar. Council members will be systematically asked to contribute as much as possible to their own costs (for example, through fundraising for travel).
Nominations for Council must be received 90 days before the beginning of the International Conference. Each candidate is asked to write up to 200 words about themselves and their priorities within WRI, including which working group they commit to be active in. This will then be circulated in English, French, German and Spanish to Sections and Associates. During the International Conference, those candidates present will be introduced. Affiliates represented at the Triennial will be given ballot papers. Any Section, Associate Organisation or Associte Publication not represented at the Conference shall have the right to return a postal vote not later than one week before the first day of the Conference.
The Section Representative plays a vital role linking each Section with the International as a whole. The primary task is to try to make WRI alive to Section members, and to bring the Section's work and perspectives to the attention of the rest of the International. Each Section Rep is responsible for writing a one-page Section report for the council annually.
The representative is chosen by the Section, and their activity in WRI is financed by the Section. We encourage Sections to chose a rep to serve from one International Conference to the next to be in sync with elected members.
Make sure that WRI is on the agenda:
- Report on WRI meetings and mailings from the WRI office.
- Forward emails and announcements from WRI.
- Inform your Section's decision-making bodies of any request from WRI or Working Groups or other affiliates.
- Inform your Section's publication of anything from WRI that needs publicising
- Tell other Section members of Working Groups they might be interested in
- Encourage your Section to:
- Organise events for Prisoners for Peace and International CO Days.
- Invite WRI to send a representative to a Section conference or meeting.
- Organise a speaking tour to promote WRI or one of the issues we're working on.
- Promote participation in the International Conference.
- Host an event for WRI (Council, study conference, seminar, International Conference.)
- Pay the annual affiliation fee and increase it if possible.
- Promote sales of broken rifle badges.
Read all the circulars that are sent from the office, and make sure the WRI office knows who's who and what's what in your Section: who is responsible for finances, the editors of magazines and newsletter.
Encourage people or groups in the Section with a special focus (i.e. nonviolence training) to get involved in a WRI Working Group, or in doing something at the International Conference
Send copies of reports you write for your Section to the WRI office.
Make sure the WRI office receives copies of magazines and other publications from your Section.
Use WRI to internationalise some of the activities your Section is engaged in:
- Asking for solidarity actions
- Sharing information or skills being developed in your Section.
As all minutes are written only in English, and the office attempts to get them translated into Spanish, but not into other languages. It is useful to have the help of a translator for this work.
The Council will appoint the Executive at its meeting immediately after the International Conference. In addition to the Chair, there are usually three or four other members chosen from Council
members (both internationally elected members and Section reps). Taking part in the Executive is
far more time-consuming than being on the Council. It meets at the annual Council meetings
and 2 other weekends during the year in London, plus Exec chats via the internet. Sometimes individual Executive members are expected to attend additional meetings - some political (e.g.meetings of networks), some internal (e.g. a working group), and some organizational (e.g. Personnel Committee).
The Executive has to follow up decisions taken by the International Business Meeting and Council meetings. It discusses political developments between Council meetings, but mainly it is faced with practical work and decisions - see the Executive minutes for more on what the Exec deals with.
Executive members receive their travel expenses (with an understanding they find the cheapest and most practical transportation) and lunch on meeting days. Places to stay are found by staff if needed. All other expenses, including dinners, are the responsibility of the individual.
In between meetings, Executive members are consulted by email about urgent decisions and receive progress reports from the office. At the beginning of its three to four year term, the Executive members divide up areas of responsibility between them. Chairing of Executive meetings and review of minutes is rotated among Exec members.
The pre-International Conference Council meeting will appoint a small "nominating committee" whose job will be to talk with Council members willing to serve and to listen to the views of others. The nominating committee then presents a team for approval by the post- International Conference Council meeting. This team should reflect certain balances (gender, political, types of work, and geography) and be able to operate within the budgetary limits agreed. They recommend an Executive to the Council for approval.In the case that a Section Rep is appointed, the Section should have agreed to this Representative serving a 3-4-year term as representative; the Section will remain responsible for paying the costs of the participation in Council meetings, WRI pays for Exec meetings.
The WRI office is the communication centre for the whole organisation. It has two full time programm estaff, and a half-time finance and administration worker.
The WRI Council meets once a year. The Chair, the Treasurer, and the 12 elected Council members and Section Reps are expected to attend. Representatives of all affiliates are welcome, although only Council members have votes.
The WRI Executive consists of the Chair, usually the Treasurer, and three or four other Council members. It meets three times a year, including once at Council. Minutes are sent to all affiliates. WRI cover the cost of travel to Exec meetings and lunches.
Presently Working Groups in WRI exist on programs (War Profiteers and Right to Refuse to Kill), on some specific regions (Africa, Colombia), and specific issues (Women, Nonviolence training). Ad Hoc sub-committees are set up for specific projects (such as the Triennial Committee).
There are three kinds of affiliates. A Section is an organisation where each member is required to agree with the WRI Declaration: most cover a certain geographical territory, but this is not necessary. Associated Organisations and Associated Publications accept the WRI Declaration but do not have a system of membership requiring personal acceptance of the Declaration. Sections have more constitutional weight than Associates. Although associates can only send an observer to Council meetings, they are encouraged to nominate an observer for the term of the Council, to improve continuity and to make sure the WRI office has a clear contact point. The tasks of section reps can be seen as a guideline for observers too.
Individual members: Every individual who does not want to join an existing WRI section can join as Individual Member on signing the WRI declaration. Individual members can get involved in working groups, or in any other are of WRI work. Individual members are expected to contribute financially, and will receive the Broken Rifle and appeal mailing. They can attend WRI Council meetings as observers. Any 5 individual members (including members of sections) can nominate candidates for Council or Chair. Individual members don't have voting rights at meetings.