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Rules and Code of Practice

3 - General Meetings, votes and elections:

This section complements articles 4 and 8 of the statutes that provide for a General Meeting of ICO every three years. ICO holds a Congress every three years. The ICO Congress consists of a business part, known as the ICO General Meeting, and an International Scientific Conference part.


Tradition holds that General Meetings are held in two sessions with more than 24 hours between the end of the first session and the beginning of the second session.

Attendance in the General Meeting 

During any session of the General Meeting, the Secretary circulates a list of attendance. Each attendant signs the attendance list, indicating

* their capacity of ICO Bureau member, official delegate an ICO Territorial Committee, representative of an associate member, member of an ICO Committee, or observer (more than one category may apply);

* their country or ICO territory.

According to article 4 of the statutes, the number of official delegates of ICO Territorial Committees is equal to their respective numbers of votes. The number of official delegates may in no case exceed the number of votes, but if the actual number of official delegates at a General Meeting is smaller than the number of votes, the Territorial Committee still keeps the same number of votes.

Voting procedure:

Except as indicated in articles 8 (agenda of the General Meeting), 11 (duration of the commission), 12 (alterations to statutes) and 13 (alterations of the Rules and Codes of Practice) of the statutes, decisions of the General Meeting, including elections, are by a majority of the votes of the members present and taking part.

Except for the ICO Bureau election, where secret ballot is the rule, the ICO President decides whether votes need to be made by secret ballot. A member having N votes is provided with N ballot forms; this applies to both the Territorial Committee members and the International Organisation members. The member may decide to cast identical ballots or not.

Nomination procedure:

Candidates for the ICO Bureau may be nominated by the ICO nominating Committee (see section 6 below) and/or by the Territorial Committees. No other nomination may be received. The Nominating Committee writes to the Territorial Committees at least one year before the election to request nominations for all positions in the ICO Bureau.

Endorsement of all candidates by their respective Territorial Committees is requested in all cases. In addition, Territorial Committees may endorse candidates from any Territory. At the time of the General Meeting, the delegation of the Territorial Committee to the General Assembly makes endorsements in its name.

Endorsement means that the person is considered by the endorsing Territorial Committee as a good person to stand for an ICO election and is to be understood as an intention, not an obligation, to support this candidate at the election, given the list of candidates at the time the endorsement is made.

The Nominating Committee establishes a first list of candidates that is sent to the territorial Committees along with the agenda of the General Meeting.

Nominations may be received until 24 hours before the election. After the closure of nominations, the Nominating Committee establishes a final list of candidates. In addition, each candidate provides the Nominating Committee with a short curriculum vitae and a statement on his/her policy if elected for distribution to the General Meeting.

Except as provided in this and in the next subsection, there is no official campaign for the ICO Bureau.

Elections for the ICO Bureau:

Bureau Elections are by secret ballot in all cases.

Tradition holds that:

*during the first session of the General Meeting, the Nominating Committee presents its report and indicates the current list of candidates for the ICO Bureau offices;

*elections are held during the second session of the General Meeting;

*for the offices of President, Treasurer, Secretary and Associate Secretary, each candidate is given, immediately before the vote, a short prescribed time (typically between 5 and 10 minutes) to present himself and his/her policy to the General Meeting. If there is only one candidate, that procedure is optional.

The elections are conducted by the chairperson of the Nominating Committee. After each vote, the Nominating Committee counts the votes and during that time, the General Meeting may treat agenda items other than the elections.

In the case of a tie for any vote, the elder candidate is declared elected.

For any vote, if the number of candidates is equal to the number of seats, the Nominating Committee Chairperson may decide that there is no vote and declare the candidate(s) elected.

Concerning the Vice-Presidents, the idea is that eight Vice-Presidents represent the Territorial Committee Members and are elected only by the Territorial Committee Members, while a number of Vice-Presidents represent the International Organisation Members and are elected only by the International Organisation Members. Since it is not advisable to have too many members on the Bureau, the number of Vice-Presidents representing Territorial Committee Members has been set to eight, and the maximum number of Vice-Presidents representing International Organisation Members has also been set to eight.1 

The votes are held in the following order:

Executive Committee (elected by all members):

* one vote for the President;

* one vote for the Treasurer;

* one vote for the Secretary;

* one vote for the Associate Secretary.

Vice-Presidents elected by Territorial Committee Members (only the Territorial Committee Members vote):

•in a first vote, members vote on four (4) names; all candidates are eligible, whether they come from industry or not; if, among the first four (4) candidates ranked by number of votes, no one is from industry, the first three (3) are declared elected; if at least one is from industry, the first four (4) are declared elected;

•if the first vote did not lead to the election of two (2) candidates from industry, a second vote is made, where only candidates from industry are eligible; as a result of this vote, the number of candidates from industry elected is brought to two (2); in that vote, members vote on one (1) or two (2) names, depending on how many candidates should be elected;

•in a last vote, all candidates are eligible, whether they come from industry or not, and the total number of Vice-Presidents is brought to eight; in that vote, members vote on three (3) to four (4) names, depending on how many candidates should be elected. 

In every vote, the ballots forms given to the voting members should indicate the number of seats to be assigned by this vote; nevertheless, ballots with a smaller number of votes are valid. On one given ballot form, no name should be written more than once and the ballot form must be explicit about that rule. If nevertheless one name is duplicated, it is counted only once. Ballots containing a number of different names larger than the number of seats to be assigned are not valid.

Tradition holds that for ICO elections, the detail of votes are not made public but are kept by the Nominating Committee Chairperson. Consequently, it is not sensible to repeat votes in order to reach an absolute majority and the applicable majority rule is always the relative majority, i.e. the candidates that have more votes are elected, whether they have reached the absolute majority or not.

Vice-Presidents representing International Organisation Members (IOM):

For the Vice-Presidents appointed by the International Organisation Members, prior to the General Meeting, every International Organisation Member appoints one representative. If the representative is elected on the Executive Committee or as one of the eight elected Vice-Presidents, the International Organisation Member appoints another representative at its earliest convenience but no later than September 30th

•If there are less than eight International Organisation members, their representatives automatically become Vice-Presidents.

•If there are more than eight International Organisation Members, unless a consensus agreement is found among the International Organisation Members, the election of their eight Vice-Presidents takes place last and the candidates are automatically the appointed representatives of the International Organisation Members.

The Nominating Committee contacts the International Organization Members at least six months before the GA to request the appointments. 


1The whole point of having an International Organisation Member category is to give them close contact with the ICO and therefore they are well represented in the Bureau. Nevertheless, their representation in the Bureau cannot exceed that of the Territorial Committee Members. Just like it is impossible for all Territorial Committee Members to have someone on the Bureau, it will also be impossible for all International Organization Members to have someone on the Bureau if their number exceeds eight. While this is a fair rule, it may generate difficulties and frustration if the number of International Organization Members happens to be just slightly larger than eight. If that happens, one option open to the ICO President will be to invite those International Organization Members that have no Vice-President to attend part or all of the Bureau meetings as observers.

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