Despite the fundamental nature of the changes recommended by Robin Rolfe in her presentation at the AIPPI Congress, there were no critical comments by the delegates. Instead, five took the opportunity to congratulate Rolfe on her work and ask how fast the changes could be implemented.
As detailed on page 2 of Sunday's AIPPI Congress News, the report recommended changing the management structure of AIPPI, which Rolfe described as a “skinny down” with the Council of Presidents being given specific responsibilities so it can be “more than just a shadow of the ExCo”. The national and regional groups would remain fundamental but the confederation structure would be changed. “We in the US know how badly our confederation worked out, and those in Europe are experiencing it now,” said Rolfe. Moreover, the language or “AIPPI-speak” should change, with resolutions renamed ‘policies’ and working committees given a new name because “it suggests no one else does any work”.
“It’s not that you don’t do great things, it’s just that they are a big secret,” said Rolfe. “And when you do talk about it you use words that no one else understands.”
Delegates from Croatia, the UK and Denmark, among others, welcomed the report in their comments. Mladen Vukmir, head of the Croatian delegation, described how he had joined AIPPI at the Montreal Congress in 1995 and it took him several years before he understood how the association worked. “I was unaware of work that was apparently going on at the time to reform AIPPI, so I congratulate the Bureau on being so open with this report, and ask how quickly it can be implemented.”
Trevor Cook from the UK said that his group would support the report “perhaps in its totality” but echoed the concerns of Vukmir when he asked: “Given the constitutional constraints of the organization, how rapidly can these points be put into practice?”
John Bochnovic, who had earlier been voted in as the next President of AIPPI, said some things could be done immediately – like improving AIPPI communications – and others could be voted on electronically by the ExCo without the need for a meeting, but those to do with the organisation of AIPPI would require a change to the statutes and would therefore have to wait until the Toronto Congress in 2014.
In the meantime, national and regional groups will be given a deadline in which to put forward their views, before the Bureau meets again in six months’ time. Then hopefully many changes will be ready by the Helsinki Forum and ExCo meeting in September 2013.
The only concerns raised by delegates were that the national structure of AIPPI must be retained, which drew the loudest round of applause, and that the Bureau should tell the ExCo what it thought of the report, before anyone was expected to make their own response. Despite making the point that the Bureau was there to implement policy, rather than to make it, Secretary General Stephan Freischem promised that the Bureau would give its views soon.
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