Statutes for Civil Rights Defenders*. Note: Swedish original statutes, translated with informal English version below.
1 § Purpose
Civil Rights Defenders is a politically and religiously independent non-governmental organisation. The purpose of the organisation is to work for the compliance of fundamental civil and political rights in accordance with the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and other international agreements concerning human rights and to strengthen local or regional human rights defenders. The organisation works in Sweden and internationally.
2 § Work Methods
Holding those in power accountable
Civil Rights Defenders holds governments and those in power accountable, and demands accountability when people’s civil or political rights are violated. The organisation evaluates laws and proposed legislation, as well as how authorities implement these. The organisation brings those in power to court when human rights are violated by engaging in cases at national and international courts, committees, and tribunals.
Civil Rights Defenders advocates for people’s civil and political rights directly with governments and decision-makers, and through public campaigns. The organisation encourages discussion and debate and shines a spotlight on important issues through the media, seminars, and in public reports.
Support and expertise
Civil Rights Defenders partners and supports local and regional human rights defenders. Through security training, emergency support, expertise, organisational development, innovation, and long-term financial support the organisation contributes to increased capacity to drive change. Civil Rights Defenders brings together our partners in a secure way so they can exchange experiences, as well as learn from and inspire each other.
3 § Organisation
Civil Rights Defenders Head Office is in Stockholm, Sweden. The Annual Meeting and occasional Extraordinary Meetings are the organisation’s supreme decision-making bodies. The Board is responsible for the implementation of the decisions made by the Annual Meeting and the Extraordinary Meeting, and for the activities and the finances of the organisation. The organisation shall have a secretariat, whose task it is to implement the decisions of the Board and to handle the day-to-day operation of the organisation.
4 § Membership
Anyone who supports the purpose of the organisation and the fundamental values of the Helsinki Final Act and other international agreements concerning human rights, and who is prepared to work for these, may become a member of Civil Rights Defenders. The Board has the right to review an application, to refuse membership, and to expel a member who does not fulfil the requirements for membership. The Annual Meeting can challenge a decision on membership.
5 § Financing
In order to finance its activities, Civil Rights Defenders can accept membership fees, and administer funds and securities granted or donated to the organisation.
6 § The Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting shall be held by May 31 at the latest, at a time and location that the Board decides. Motions (proposals) from the members shall be sent to the secretariat in Stockholm no later than January 15. The Board shall convene the Annual Meeting no later than 14 days in advance. The following documents shall be enclosed with the notice:
- The Board’s proposed agenda for the meeting;
- The Election Committee’s nominations regarding statutory elections;
- Other nominations, where applicable;
- Annual report;
- Financial report;
- Auditor’s report, where applicable;
- Motions, and the Board’s comments on these.
The Annual Meeting shall always consider the following standing matters:
a) Election of a chair and a secretary for the meeting.
b) Consideration of whether the meeting was duly convened.
c) Election of two members to check the minutes of the meeting.
d) Preparation and establishment of the voting list.
e) Presentation and adoption of the annual report, the financial report and the auditor’s report.
f) Decision on discharging the Board from liability.
g) Election of a President of the Board (biennial election).
h) Election of members of the Board, with four members elected one year and the remainder elected the following year.
i) Election of an authorised auditor.
j) Election of an election committee.
k) Consideration of proposals from the Board and motions from the members provided these have been sent in within the stipulated time frame.
l) Other business.
A copy of the checked minutes of the Annual Meeting shall be available at the secretariat, and published on the organisation’s website, no later than eight weeks after the meeting.
7 § Extraordinary Meeting
The Board shall convene an Extraordinary Meeting when necessary, or when at least fifty per cent of the members request such a meeting. An Extraordinary Meeting shall only consider the specific matters for which the Extraordinary Meeting was convened. The Board shall send a notice of the Extraordinary Meeting to all members no later than 14 days in advance. The Board’s proposed agenda for the meeting and other documents shall be enclosed with the notice. A copy of the checked minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting shall be available at the secretariat, and published on the organisation’s website, no later than eight weeks after the meeting.
8 § Decisions on the Annual Meeting and the Extraordinary Meeting
The Annual Meeting and the Extraordinary Meeting are decision-making bodies when a notice is made according to the Statutes. Members of Civil Rights Defenders have the right to attend Annual Meetings and Extraordinary Meetings, provided they have notified their intention to attend before the stipulated deadline.
A member must have paid the membership fee (if a membership fee was determined by the Board) for the current or previous year and the membership must have lasted for at least six months to have the right to speak and to vote at the meeting.
Members of the Board do not have the right to vote on discharging the Board from liability. Decisions on amendments to the Statutes, and the dissolution of the organisation require a 4/5 majority of the votes at two consecutive Annual Meetings. Other decisions require more than fifty per cent of the votes. The chair of the meeting has the casting vote if the votes are tied. If this is the case in the election of individuals, the meeting shall draw lots to decide.
9 § The Board
The Board consists of a chair and at least four, but not more than nine, members. The Annual Meeting elects members for a period of two years, with the election of the chair and half of the members for one year and the rest the following year. The Board decides when and where it will have its meetings.
A decision is made when at least four members agree. The chair of the Board or, if he or she is absent, the chair of the meeting has the casting vote if the votes are tied.
The Board divides the work between its members. The Board has the right to co-opt one or more person(s) without the right to vote. The Board decides on who will have the right to sign documents on behalf of the organisation.
10 § Administration and Audit
The financial year of Civil Rights Defenders is the calendar year. The authorised auditor elected by the Annual Meeting shall audit the administration and finances.
11 § Amendments and Interpretation of the Statutes
A decision to amend the Statutes of Civil Rights Defenders requires a 4/5-majority vote at two consecutive Annual Meetings. Proposed amendments and the Board’s comments on the proposal shall be enclosed with the notice of the Annual Meeting.
The Board has the right to decide on amendments that are purely linguistic or editorial. Such decisions shall always be reported at the next Annual Meeting.
The Annual Meeting’s interpretation of the organisation’s statutes remains in force and cannot be reviewed by court.
12 § Dissolution of Civil Rights Defenders
Decisions on the dissolution of the organisation require a 4/5 majority of the votes at two consecutive Annual Meetings. Proposals to dissolve the organisation and the Board’s comments on any such proposal shall be enclosed with the notice of the Annual Meeting.
If Civil Rights Defenders is dissolved, all the remaining assets of the organisation shall be used in accordance with the purpose of the organisation and according to the Annual Meeting’s decisions. Archives, minutes and other documents shall be preserved.
This version of the Statutes entered into force on 17 June 2020, after adjustment of previous statutes.
*) N.B. This is not an official translation of the Statutes