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Special Resolution C1(S) – Nominations for Elections at the Annual General Meeting

This blog is from Ruth Breddal Chair, Amnesty International UK Section

Like many Special Resolutions, the text of C1(S) needs some explanation. The background note in the AGM papers provides extra information but if you are still not sure what it’s all about, we hope that this blog will make things a bit clearer.

If not, please post a question and we’ll provide a response that might help. If you don’t agree with what we’re suggesting, then we’d love to know why, so please post a comment and let’s have a discussion.

Amnesty UK’s Annual General Meeting currently elects

The basic functions of these bodies and their election processes are described in Amnesty UK’s governing document - the Articles of Association (often referred to as 'the Constitution').

Unfortunately, the Constitution sets out different timelines and processes:

  • AGM Chair – timeline for nominations is set by the Returning Officer
  • AGM Standing Orders Committee – elected from nominations received at the AGM
  • Members and Directors Appeals Committee – there is no mention of a process for nomination

This Special Resolution proposes to introduce greater consistency and would mean that, for all these positions, the Returning Officer will set the nominations timeline. However, they will all still be elected by the AGM. That stays the same.

At the moment, the first time anyone hears from candidates is at the AGM, where they give a speech, sometimes as short as one minute each. The changes mean that the process could be set up to allow nominations to be published to the membership in advance. That would allow groups (and individual members) to consider and discuss the candidate credentials before the AGM. And, if they wish, to vote for the preferences by proxy. This would help to answer a concern raised by the proposer of Decision B1, approved at last year’s AGM. We hope this would increase the transparency of this democratic process.

We look forward to your comments and questions.

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I am opposed to this resolution for a number of reasons.

It opens up a very real likelihood of someone being elected (potentially unopposed) to Chair the AGM or on to Standing Order Committee despite never having attended the AGM. This seems an extremely unhelpful unintended consequence which might increase transparency of this narrow element of democracy, but could greatly harm wider democratic processes by weakening the ability of the Chair and SOC to oversee the AGM competently The AIUK AGM is idiosyncratic and I'd view first-hand experience of it as absolutely essential to fulfil the role.

I also find it odd that it puts the power for setting the timeline for elections with the Returning Office, but the Board are also proposing A1 Body of Rules for AIUK which effectively remove this power (although

Finally, it potentially fails to resolve the issue raised by B1 last year. The Rules proposed in A1 set out that if there are insufficient nominations in advance, the Returning Officer will make a call for nominations at the AGM. This leaves us exactly where we are now, with the representatives of groups holding 10 votes, despite the fact they are voting on their personal preference, not that of their group.

Mal DS 7 years ago

Thanks for the comment, it's good to be able to talk about this before the AGM

The proposed Special Resolution does not propose any changes to the constitutional arrangements for electing the AGM Chair. It's the same as the arrangements for the Standing Orders Committee.

Article 24.2 of our Articles of Association (the constitution) states that “The AGM Chair shall be a person elected to such office at the preceding AGM from nominations received by the Returning Officer in accordance with a timetable announced by the Returning Officer.” If the Special Resolution is adopted, that provision will be unchanged but Article 27.6 will now read “The SOC Members shall be elected by the Members at the AGM from nominations received in accordance with a timetable announced by the Returning Officer.”

The proposed rule, which aims to received nominations in advance of the AGM, does not stop candidates with experience of our AGM from standing for either position but it potentially allows our wider membership to have a view on their credentials. The current approach, of nominations being received at the AGM and candidates giving a one minute speech, does not prevent unopposed elections or necessarily ensure that candidates have the desired experience. We're just trying to give members more time to make a considered choice between candidates.

We agree that the suggested rule will not address the concerns of raised in last year’s AGM decision, if we fail to generate sufficient candidates in advance. However, we feel it is worth trying before we introduce further complexity into our constitutional and voting arrangements by reducing group and affiliate votes to one vote each for the AGM elections.

We look forward to seeing you at the AGM and continuing the debate.

Ruth Breddal

Ruth B 7 years ago