Articles of Association
of October 24, 2011,
as revised at Geneva on February 20, 2014
Those undertaking internship programmes at international organizations in Geneva:
MINDFUL of the unwaged and transient nature of internships, interns’ general lack of representation in staff representative bodies with employers (including, but not limited to work councils, unions and other associations), and of the mutual benefits that might be afforded to young people and to the organizations in which they are engaged;
COMMITTED firstly to promoting the professional welfare of interns, by seeking to improve the working conditions, stipends, and the diverse accessibility of internship programmes through constructive dialogue with the organizations that already have said programmes and those seeking to implement successful ones, thereby improving the internship experience and increasing the participation of developing nations;
COMMITTED secondly to promoting the personal welfare of interns, by growing and strengthening the community of interns in Geneva, providing social platforms for building comradery, and by providing assistance to members in instances of professional difficulties, via support, advice, and social services where possible;
COMMITTED thirdly to generating a collective memory and a shared history among interns for the purpose of continuity and the continued promotion of its objectives, herewithin;
RESPECTFUL of the important work and aims of the United Nations and its associated organizations, and considering the example that its internal practises provide to the nations of the world;
REFERRING to freedom of association, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 20 paragraph 1, concerning freedom of association, and Article 23 paragraph 4, concerning the right to form and join trade unions), and promoted by the instruments of the International Labour Organization (ILO Convention 87 concerning freedom of association and the right to organise, Convention 98 concerning the right to organise and collective bargaining, and Convention 154 concerning the promotion of collective bargaining);
AFFIRM the right of interns to associate freely;
AND RESOLVE to form an association, in keeping with the principles and international norms of freedom of association, for the pursuit of the aims aforementioned.
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I. MEMBERSHIP AND STRUCTURE
Article 1: Membership
i. Any intern at an organization falling within the United Nations (UN) system in Geneva, as well as any intern at CERN, NGOs and other international organizations in the Geneva area, is eligible to join the Geneva Interns’ Association (hereafter ‘the Association’).
ii. Membership can be gained by applying to an officer of the Association and paying a membership fee. Members will receive a Membership Card, which is valid for the duration of a member’s internship, based on the records of the Association.
iii. Membership can be given up at all times by communicating the intention to resign to an officer of the Association.
iv. The Association is a not-for-profit organization. Any costs incurred by the Association (including possible sponsorships and subsidies for interns of lesser means) will be covered by donations, occasional fundraising events and one-time membership payments.
v. Members of the Association will be entitled to vote on all policies, organizational rules, and actions taken by the Association, to stand and vote in the election of officers, and to participate in all of the Association’s activities.
vi. In exceptional circumstances, if a student living in Geneva is willing and able to take an active role in the activities of the Association, he/she will be allowed to become a member in order to contribute to the Association’s social and professional aspirations. The duration of the membership for a student is defined by the Executive Board of the Association.
Article 2: Structure and Officers
i. The Association will be administered by the Executive Board of the Association which will include a least a Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer, as well as Heads of Departments and their Deputies.
ii. In organizations in which interns are organized, the intern community may, in its own way, select interns to become officers of the Association and represent their respective organizations on the Executive Board.
iii. With a view to seeking the broadest possible representation, officers from smaller agencies and other non-UN institutions may be recruited without having to stand for election.
iv. A Chairperson, a Secretary, and a Treasurer will be elected by a ballot in which all valid, active members of the Association are eligible to stand and vote. The Chairperson shall be an intern based in Geneva. The Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer are required to be from three separate organizations or institutions. Additionally, members representing the same organization may only occupy each of those roles for two consecutive terms, following which a member from a different organization should be sought.
v. Heads of the Departments and other supporting officers may be appointed by the Executive Board, where necessary, on an ad hoc basis (for example, these may include sports, social affairs, professional welfare, campaigns, bargaining, or communications officers).
vi. Due to the transient nature of internships there will be no fixed term limits on officers’ tenures. To ensure the greatest possible continuity, officers may serve as officers for the period of time that they are able to do so. However, only those holding valid membership can serve as officers. Officers are required to organize the recruitment of their replacement in a timely manner.
vii. The Executive Board will be responsible for all official activities of the Association. These include, but are not limited to the following: campaigning on issues of concern for interns; providing all possible support to members where necessary; organizing weekly social events; maintaining membership records; promoting the Association with a view to increasing its membership; endeavouring to gain recognition for collective bargaining purposes; and overseeing the Association’s finances.
viii. In the event that an officer must be removed, the Executive Board will terminate their appointment in accordance with Article 5.
II. THE FUNCTIONING OF THE ASSOCIATION
Article 3: Meetings
i. The Executive Board, whether in whole or in part, shall meet as often as it deems necessary, but at least once every month. However, for GIA events (GIA drinks, lunches, etc.), agreed officers should meet as required for their successful organization.
ii. A General Meeting of all members should be held quarterly, with a view to voting on policies, agendas, or (where necessary) the election of new officers. In the event of important developments, policy decisions, or elections, general meetings should also be held. General meetings must be widely publicised to members of the Association. A Board of Advisors will be present at the General Meeting.
Article 4: Elections and Voting
i. On all matters of policy, alteration of the present Articles of Association, actions taken by the Association, or the election of the Chairperson, Secretary or Treasurer, all members will be entitled to one vote. Voting shall normally be by a show of hands or by a secret ballot. An independent person (i.e. a person with no connection with the Executive Board, but not necessarily a person who is not a member of the Association) should be sought to oversee and conduct ballots.
ii. Given the broad and disparate base of membership, the Executive Board may consider it convenient to use a secure online voting system.
iii. As the membership base in Geneva is transient, there will be no quorum requirements. However, where there is a serious doubt about the integrity of the result of a ballot, either by the Executive Board, by the independent overseer, or by the membership of the Association, ballots will be declared void, and will then be rerun.
Article 5: Association Discipline
i. Any member whose actions do not conform to the principles of the Association will have their membership unilaterally terminated by a simple majority decision of the Executive Board.
ii. The principles of the Association include support for bona fide and constructive dialogue with all international organizations, institutions, and businesses that it engages with; as well as respect for the work and principles of the United Nations and its associated organizations; furthermore, the promotion of respect and harmonious relations between all nations, races and sexual orientations; and moreover, concern for the welfare and wellbeing of all interns and those associated with the Association.
iii. In the event of an internal dispute, the Executive Board will nominate an ad hoc panel or independent person to mediate. With the consent of the parties to the dispute, the panel or person will then resolve the dispute as he/she/it sees fit.
III. THE REGULATION OF THE ASSOCIATION
Article 6: Articles of Association
i. The original document containing the first set of Articles of Association took effect on 24th October 2011 when it was presented to the interns of the international organizations in Geneva who wished to form an Association.
iii. Revision and amendments to these Articles of Association shall be made by the consent of the Association, by proposing alterations and voting at the General Meeting in accordance with Article 4, and shall take effect immediately.
Article 7: Legal Status
i. At the present time, the Association wishes to consolidate and formalize the existing links between interns of various organizations in Geneva and establish itself as a voluntary association.
ii. However, the Association eventually aspires to enter into collective bargaining with international organizations when its structure and membership are sufficiently well-established. At that time, the Association can amend this Article to claim trade union status, either according to the norms of international labour law, or under Article 60 of the Swiss civil code of 10 December 1907.