Policy on Membership

The Policy is a binding document. It is adopted in accordance with the Constitution by the Trustees of the International Association for Religious Freedom, acting as part of the International Council. It has the status of a bye-law until such time as complete bye-laws are adopted, when it will become the section on membership of the bye-laws.

Nothing in this policy or the bye-laws may be interpreted in a way that would contradict the Constitution, and specifically provisions of Article 9 "Membership". Provisions of the Constitution always take precedent.

The International Association for Religious Freedom, hereinafter referred to as "the Association" or "IARF", has several classes of members. The most important distinction is into Voting and Non-Voting Members.

  1. Voting Members

    Voting Members are members in the full legal sense and enjoy all rights under the Constitution and applicable UK law. Voting Members can be either a Member Organisation or a Chapter.

    1. Member Organisations

      Member Organisations are non-governmental organisations, such as faith communities, associations, foundations and educational institutions, whose goals are compatible with the Association's.

      1. Eligibility for membership
        1. Member Organisations do not need to be incorporated but must be governed by a publicly available document, such as a statute, constitution or mission statement, that they consider binding.
        2. Membership Organisations must recognize and promote human rights as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially freedom of religion and belief, including the individual's freedom to change or abandon their religion, as well as uphold such principles as respect for every human being without distinction, non-discrimination, justice and equality. Additionally, they must support interfaith and intercultural dialogue.
      2. The Application process
        1. Organisations wishing to become members must submit the application form available at www.iarf.net/membership-application.
        2. The application is received and reviewed by the Administrator. If necessary, they request additional information from the applicant before presenting the submission to the International Council without undue delay.
        3. The International Council deliberates on the submission outside of regular Council Meetings by digital means of communication, such as email or video calls. It will make such requests of the applicant as it deems necessary, including for information, clarification or an interview with a representative of the applicant.
        4. The International Council may establish a committee or appoint an individual to conduct this process and produce a recommendation.
        5. The decision is taken in the form of a resolution and communicated to the applicant without undue delay. If negative, the decision will state the reason for denial.
        6. If the application is denied, the applicant may submit another four years after being notified of the negative outcome of the application process.
    2. Chapters
      1. Formation
        1. A Chapter may be formed by a group of at least 25 adult individuals.
        2. It is not required for a Chapter to be incorporated, though it is encouraged. However, it must be governed by a constitution that is publicly available, produce annual financial reports and have a democratic form of governance.
        3. A Chapter's area of operation is a state. In principle only one Chapter may be established in a given state.
        4. In exceptional circumstances, the International Council may allow multiple Chapters to be established in one state. The Council will carefully examine the case presented by the group proposing to establish a new Chapter and consult representatives of the existing Chapter. The Council may appoint a committee or an individual to examine the case and prepare a recommendation. Special care will be taken to resolve any conflicts.
        5. A representative of the Chapter's founding members must submit the Chapter application form available at www.iarf.net/chapter-application, and attach signatures of the required number of individuals, as well as a draft of the Chapter's constitution. The Administrator will assist prospective Chapters in meeting these requirements.
        6. The admission procedure that follows is identical to the one outlined in Article 1.
  2. Rights
    1. Members have the right to vote at General Meetings.
    2. Each Voting Member, that is each Member Organisation or Chapter, has one vote at the General Meeting and in any vote held outside of General Meetings.
    3. Members can put forward candidates for all offices.
    4. Members may call extraordinary General Meetings, provided the requirements set out in the Constitution are met.
    5. Members have the right to contact all officers and employees of the Association, request information and bring matters to their attention.
    6. Members have the right to be informed of the Association's work, strategy, financial situation etc. This includes reports made by officers and employees at General Meetings as well as answers to inquiries made to the Trustees, the International Council, the committees/working groups it appoints and the Association's employees. The bodies and officers of the Association will respond to inquiries without undue delay. They may refuse to disclose certain information in exceptional cases, for example involving personal data, in accordance with applicable UK law.
    7. International Council Meetings are open to the Association's Members. The number of observers at a given meeting may be limited due to practical considerations, for example to only one representative from a Member Organisation or Chapter, or to a fixed number of representatives, in which case the observers will be selected by order of registration.
    8. The Members have the right to participate in all programmes organized by the Association. A selection procedure may be established by the International Council.
  3. Obligations
    1. Members refrain from making statements and taking actions that violate the principles and values espoused by the Association.
    2. Members actively support the Association in carrying out its mission and work to promote it and its goals.
    3. Members contribute financially to the Association.
      1. Voting Members contribute financially to the Association on an annual basis. So as not to place an excessive burden on its Members, and allow as many interested parties as possible to become Members without regard to their financial capacity, in order to further its mission, the Association does not set a flat membership fee. Rather, with the coming to the force of this policy, there will be a minimum fee determined by the Trustees, acting as part of the International Council, in the form of a resolution. The Trustees will review the fee at every Annual Meeting. The Association encourages its Members to consider increasing their annual contributions beyond the minimums.
      2. The International Council may relieve a Member from the obligation to contribute financially to the Association for a given year or accept a lower contribution than the minimums set out in the resolution on membership fees.
  4. Termination of Membership
    1. Membership is terminated when a Member Organisation or a Chapter ceases to exist.
    2. The International Council may terminate the membership of a Member Organisation or dissolve a Chapter.
    3. The decision must be taken in the form of a resolution.
    4. The Member Organisation or Chapter must be notified of the Council's intent and be given an opportunity to present their case in a reasonable timeframe as mandated by the Constitution.
    5. Only severe violations constitute grounds for termination of membership. These include, but are not limited to, wilful and unapologetic violations of the values and principles espoused by the Association, failure to contribute financially for two consecutive years without obtaining a waiver from the International Council, and the inability to contact the Member for at least a year. The Trustees, acting as part of the International Council, determines what constitutes a severe violation on a case-by-case basis.
  5. Non-voting members

    Non-voting members are akin to honorary members and enjoy only such rights as defined in the bye-laws. This class of members comprises Associated Members and Individual Members.

    1. Associated Members
      1. After careful consideration, the Association decided not to make use of the possibility to accept Associated Members given by the Constitution.
      2. Organisations that are Associated Members on the day the policy comes into effect will be given the opportunity to become Voting Members.
    2. Individual Members
      1. Chapters constitute the primary framework for individual membership in the Association and individuals are encouraged to join a Chapter where they can exercise active and passive suffrage and influence its policy, including its vote at the Association's General Meetings.
      2. However, because the number of Chapters is limited and not every individual desiring to support the Association and demonstrate their connection to it, its mission and values may be able or willing to join a Chapter, individuals may become non-voting members of the Association.
      3. To become an individual member, one must submit the individual membership application form available at www.iarf.net/individual-membership-form.
      4. The Administrator receives the form and presents the application to the International Council.
      5. The International Council may delegate the processing of individual membership applications to a person or committee.
      6. Individual Members contribute financially to the organisation. The minimal annual contribution is determined in the resolution on membership fees adopted by the International Council. The Council may relieve an individual from this obligation for a given year.
  6. Record of members
    1. The Association maintains a record of its Members in accordance with applicable UK law.
    2. The Administrator, supervised by the International Council, is the party directly responsible for maintaining the record.
    3. The record includes at least contact details, address and the date of admission.
    4. The list of Voting Members is available to all Voting Members as well as to the public.
    5. A Member may request for its name to be removed from the public listing.
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