Statutes for Civil Rights Defenders*. Note: Swedish original statutes are translated into an informal English version below.
1 § Purpose
Civil Rights Defenders is a politically and religiously independent non-profit organisation.
The purpose of the organisation is to defend people’s civil and political rights in accordance with the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 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 hold governments and those in power accountable, and demand accountability when legislation or its application violates people’s civil or political rights. The organisation evaluates laws, proposed legislation, and the exercise of authority, and pursues legal processes against states and those in power when human rights are violated.
Civil Rights Defenders advocate for people’s civil and political rights with states, decision-makers, and the general public through debate, discussion and public campaigns, shining a spotlight on important issues in the media, seminars, lectures, trainings, and public reports.
Support and expertise
Civil Rights Defenders partners with, supports, and strengthens local and regional human rights defenders. Through security training, emergency support, expertise, capacity building, innovation, and long-term financial support, the organisation contributes to increased capacity to drive change. Civil Rights Defenders brings our partners together 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 based in Stockholm, Sweden. The Annual Meeting and occasional Extraordinary Meetings are the organisation’s supreme decision-making bodies. The Board is responsible for implementing the decisions made by the Annual Meeting and the Extraordinary Meeting and is also responsible for the organisation’s finances, strategic orientation and operations. The Board appoints and hires an Executive Director (ED). The ED is responsible to the Board for the day-to-day operations in accordance with the Board’s strategy and guidelines.
4 § Membership
Only private individuals can be members of Civil Rights Defenders.
A member is a person who annually pays the annual fee determined by the Board. An honorary member can be invited by the Board, who has made particularly meritorious efforts or for another reason should be honoured by Civil Rights Defenders. An honorary member is like a regular member but is exempt from paying the annual fee.
Members must support the purpose of the organisation and the fundamental values of the Helsinki Final Act and other international agreements concerning human rights.
It is up to the Board to review the application for each individual membership and to refuse entry or exclude a member who does not meet the membership requirements.
5 § Financing
To finance its activities, in addition to membership fees, Civil Rights Defenders can accept and manage 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 organisation no later than January 15. The Board shall convene the Annual Meeting no later than 14 days in advance. The following documents shall be attached to the notice or kept available on the organisation’s website:
- 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, and;
- If applicable, motions and the Board’s comments on these.
The Annual Meeting shall always consider the following standing matters:
a) Preparation and establishment of the voting list.
b) Election of a chair and a secretary for the meeting.
c) Election of two members to check and adjust the minutes of the meeting.
d) Consideration of whether the meeting was duly convened.
e) Approval of the agenda.
f) Presentation of the annual report and financial report.
g) Presentation of the auditor’s report.
h) Determination of profit and loss account and balance sheet.
i) Decision on discharging the Board from liability.
j) Election of a President of the Board (biennial election).
k) Election of members of the Board, with four members elected one year and the remainder elected the following year.
l) Election of an authorised auditor.
m) Election of an election committee.
n) Consideration of proposals from the Board and motions from the members provided these have been sent in within the stipulated time frame.
o) Other business.
A copy of the checked and adjusted minutes of the Annual Meeting shall be available at the Head Office, 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 attached with the notice. A copy of the checked and adjusted minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting shall be available at the Head Office, 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 convened in accordance with 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 for the current or previous year (if the Board determined a membership fee), and the membership must have lasted for at least six months to have the right to speak and vote at the Annual Meeting. Members of the Board do not have the right to vote on discharging the Board from liability. Employees who are members do not have voting rights.
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. Motions submitted in accordance with section 6 are adopted with a 3/4 majority.
Other decisions require more than fifty per cent of the votes, i.e. more than half of the votes cast. 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 lottery decides.
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. Employees are not eligible for election to the Board. 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 among its members. The Board has the right to co-opt one or more person(s) without the right to vote. The Board decides 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 attached to 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.
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 attached to 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 31 May 2023, after adjustment of previous statutes.
*) N.B. This is not an official translation of the Statutes.