SECTION 1 – Elaboration on matters in the Articles of the Constitution of the IFAA in relation to Article 5(4) of the Constitution of the IFAA:

The duties of a member Association of the IFAA that define an Association’s engagement with the IFAA include:

  • Payment of fees as required in Article 5(2) of the Constitution.
  • Providing information concerning the Association’s President (or equivalent), Treasurer (or equivalent), and delegates to the IFAA.
  • Responding to official requests from members of the IFAA Executive Committee.
  • Responding to official requests from the IFAA’s Federative International Programmes and Committees
  • Participating in IFAA referenda.
  • Providing evidence that the Association’s Committee of Management (or equivalent) has, on its business agenda, ‘International Affairs’ that include matters relating to the IFAA.

In relation to Article 8(2) of the Constitution of the IFAA:

The Executive Committee agreed that Associations with more than 500 members recognised for payment of dues to the IFAA are entitled to four votes (which may be split) while balloting on IFAA matters, that Associations between 101 and 500 members recognised for payment of dues to the IFAA are entitled 2 votes (which may be split) while balloting on IFAA matters, and Associations with 100 or less members recognised for payment of dues to the IFAA are entitled to 1 vote while balloting on IFAA matters.

Where an Association is granted more than 1 vote, these are available for balloting whether at the General Assembly (as indicated in the IFAA Constitution) or at IFAA referenda carried out between Congresses.  

In relation to Article 13 of the Constitution of the IFAA

The Executive Committee administers the IFAA.”

There are many provisions in the IFAA Constitution that specify the role of the Executive Committee (e.g. Article 20 and all articles concerned with the roles of officers). In the main, given that the Executive Committee functions through the Federative International Programmes (FIPs) and Federative International Committees (FICs), Article 20(n) is explicit in stating that the Executive Committee’s role is to “receive, and debate, reports, resolutions, action plans and proposals from Federative International Programmes and Committees”. In addition, Article 22(1) states that the Executive Committee proposes FIPs and FICs (to be approved ad referendum of the General Assembly: Article 10(d)). From Article 10(d), the General Assembly approves the rules and reports of FIPs and FICs. This normally takes place every 2 or 5 years when the General Assembly meets at an IFAA Congress and once the Executive Committee have also debated and approved the rules and reports (Article 20(n)).

Also from Article 10, all members/associates of FIPs and FICs are RECOMMENDED by the Executive Committee and ultimately approved by the General Assembly. Clearly, membership is suggested by the Chair of a FIP or FIC (after appropriate consultation) but these suggestions have to be approved and recommended to the General Assembly by the Executive Committee. In this context, the IFAA Constitution is also clear about the membership of FICs and FIPs in that they serve for a term (usually 5 years) that begins at the time of a Federative International Congress. Members/associates are eligible for reinstatement. As for the Officers of the IFAA’s Executive Committee, Chairs of FIPs and FICs are normally only eligible for re-election once (exceptions might be granted by the Executive Committee under exceptional circumstances (see endnote[i]). A FIP or FIC shall initially nominate its Chair and Secretary. Such nominations shall be considered for approval by the Executive Committee and then by the General Assembly (ad referendum if necessary). Concerning membership of a FIP and FIC, it is also clear from the Constitution (Article 22(2)) that FIPs and FICs shall be comprised of representatives of as many Anatomical Associations as possible, provided they are members of IFAA.

The ‘authority’ of the Executive Committee is also demonstrated by Articles 5(4) and 14(6) which outline the committee’s responsibility to require the resignation of an officer or a constituent member association of the IFAA that is not ‘sufficiently engaged’ in matters pertaining to the IFAA. Since the Executive Committee ‘administers the IFAA’ (Article 13), it has oversight of the IFAA Constitution and it has responsibility for interpreting the provisions of the Constitution. Should there be any disagreement about the Constitution from outside the Executive Committee, the matter should be debated by the Executive Committee who, if they agree that there is ambiguity or a need to refine aspects of the Constitution, may put to the General Assembly ad referendum a recommendation for change (Nota Bene, a 2/3rd majority is required for a change to the Constitution: Article 29).

Finally, Article 30 should be noted where it is written: “cases not considered by this Constitution shall be DECIDED by the Executive Committee and, when deemed necessary, ad referendum of the General Assembly”.

The Executive Committee works with the IFAA’s General Assembly under specific Constitutional provisions.The General Assembly’s primary role is to elect and approve members of the Executive Committee (Article 10(a)), vote on admission of Anatomical Associations to the IFAA (Article 10(g)), vote on venues for the IFAA Congresses (Article 10(h)), ratify Constitutional matters where not previously approved ad referendum (Article 10(b)), approve the reports concerning IFAA and FIP and FIC activities (Article 10(c)), and consider the budget and balance (Article 10(e,f)).

Article 10(i) indicates that the General Assembly can deliberate (but not decide) on matters submitted by the Executive Committee or by any member association of the IFAA. Accordingly, it is the responsibility of the Executive Committee to consider the views of the General Assembly although, in relation to the prime responsibilities of the General Assembly, the Executive Committee must implement resolutions approved by the General Assembly (Article 20(i)). It is the role of the Chair of the General Assembly (normally the President) to rule on whether an issue is for deliberation or resolution.

Article 7 of the IFAA Constitution states that “the General Assembly shall represent the universality of the members of the IFAA and its decisions shall be final’. Some common-sense gloss has to be added to this statement. First, the General Assembly can only represent the universality of IFAA members if ALL representatives are present at the face-to-face General Assembly. It is for this reason that Constitutional issues are voted upon ad referendum and that matters brought to the attention of the IFAA at the face-to-face meeting of a General Assembly should be acknowledged but resolved subsequently by communication (and, if need be, following a vote) with ALL members of the IFAA. Second, the General Assembly (as all Administrative organs and officers in the IFAA) are not granted infallibility. Therefore, the word ‘final’ does not mean that a decision has to be ‘for all time’. And common-sense would indicate that a decision of the General Assembly has considerable authority that can only be overturned by reasoned argument and by agreement of the General Assembly (if need be by voting ad referendum).

In summary: both the General Assembly and the Executive Committee are administrative organs of the IFAA where day-to-day administration is provided by the Executive Committee. The General Assembly has specific responsibilities in electing officers, member associations and Congress venues and, voting ad referendum, deciding on matters such as the Constitution. The Executive Committee works essentially by following General Assembly’s decisions and by deliberating on issues brought up by the General Assembly that need to be communicated to the universality of IFAA members. The Executive Committee largely functions by ensuring the proper running (and membership) of its FIPs and FICs.

In line with Article 10(a) and 14(5) of the Constitution of the IFAA:

Vice-Presidents of the IFAA are appointed from the Presidents of the IFAA Congresses and therefore are not reinstated for a second term of office.

In order for the Vice-president to have a period of office overlapping her/his Congress, in order to provide advice and guidance to the organisers of the Congress after her/his Congress, the following Convention applies:

When a constituent member association of the IFAA gains the support of the General Assembly to hold an IFAA Congress in 5 years time, the member association (in accordance with the IFAA Constitution) will elect a President for the Congress. This President will become a Vice-President on the last day of the IFAA Congress preceding her/his Congress and will continue as Vice-President through the period of her/his Congress until the first day of the next Congress. This arrangement ensures a 5 year period of office with the Vice-President being able to provide advice and guidance to the IFAA Congress after the Congress held by her/his constituent member association.

The following diagram provides further explanation of how this would work:

In relation to Article 14(4) of the Constitution of the IFAA:

Either the President or the Secretary-General of the International Symposium on Morphological Sciences (ISMS) will be regarded as a regular observer at meetings of the Executive Committee.

In relation to Article 14(5) of the Constitution of the IFAA

The process of nomination for positions on the IFAA Executive Board

Every five years, according to its Constitution, the IFAA holds elections to fill vacant positions on the IFAA Executive Board.  Outlined below is the process that is undertaken to fill such positions:

  1. The Secretary General of the IFAA contacts all designated “representatives” of member associations to elicit nominations for membership of the IFAA Nominating Committee (NC) (±18 months prior to General Assembly [General Assembly]). The Nominating Committee is set up by the nomination of a representative from all six continents (not individual countries or associations). The nominations are reviewed by the IFAA Executive Board and the final Nominating Committee is approved by the IFAA Executive Board (±15 months prior to General Assembly).
  • The Nominating Committee consists of the following members:
    • A Chair (either the President of the IFAA or the Past-President, dependent on whether the President’s position is up for re-election)
    • A secretary
    • One representative from each of the following continents: Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Oceana and Africa.  These are individuals who will act on behalf of a “continent” and not on behalf of an Association.
  1. Nominations are then requested by the Secretary/Chair of the NC from the members of the Nominating Committee. These nominations must be made from both their own continent as well as other continents. (±12 months prior to General Assembly).  This to provide an international, non-partisan panel of nominees..
  2. The Secretary General will simultaneously request nominations from all member associations of the IFAA through their official “representatives”.  The Secretary General will request nominations both internal and external to the member association’s own association. In addition, the Secretary General requests biographical information on nominees from the member associations, to allow for background information with which the NC can screen all nominees. Biographical information is essential for a well-informed election of officers of the IFAA. A template for nominations is available.  It is also important that member associations understand that the nominations of “their” member who has been nominated to serve on the NC, is totally independent of the member association and is not nominating on their behalf.
  3. The consolidated list of nominations (i.e., NC nominations and member association nominations together) is then sent to the NC for scoring (± 10-12 months prior to General Assembly). The NC is requested to be non-partisan and to be as inclusive of widespread representation of international anatomists, in their voting.
  4. Following receipt of the scores of the members of the NC, the consolidated scoring list is then circulated to members of the NC for checking, information and transparency.
  5. The final list of nominees for election consists of the two highest scorers in each category plus a reserve.  The reserve is the next highest scorer in each category.
  6. The two nominees who have received the highest scores in their category, are then contacted to advise them of their nomination (±9 months prior to General Assembly).  Each nominee is asked whether they will accept nomination.  In the case where a nominee does not accept nomination, the reserve nominee for that category is then contacted.
  7. On acceptance of nomination, each nominee is requested to produce a summary curriculum vitae and a manifesto.  A copy of the IFAA portfolio descriptions (see Conventions of the Constitution) should be sent to each nominee to illustrate the requirement of the position for which the nominee has received nomination.
  8. The curricula vitae and manifestos are then placed before the IFAA Executive Board for discussion (last face-to-face meeting of Exec prior to General Assembly).
  9. The Secretary General sends out the list of nominees plus CVs and manifestos   to the representatives of the member associations at least 6 months prior to the General Assembly.
  10. Voting takes place at the General Assembly of the IFAA Congress in the 5th year of a cycle. Voting is carried out by the designated “representative” of each member association.

In relation to Articles 15(1) and 23 of the Constitution of the IFAA:

In the event of the indisposition of the President of the IFAA, because the responsibilities are to be undertaken by a Vice-President who is not an elected member of the Executive Committee, the Vice-President to act as the President will be chosen by the Executive Committee but will serve temporarily until the next General Assembly when there will be an election of President from names put forward by the Nomination Committee following receipt of recommendations from the member associations of the IFAA.

In relation to Article 19 of the Constitution of the IFAA:

The Executive Committee will normally hold twice-yearly meetings (either face-to-face or by telephone/video conferencing). At the start of an Executive Committee meeting, members will be asked to report upon any conflicts of interest. Issues of confidentiality will also be signaled on the agenda papers of the Executive Committee. Members of the Executive Committee are required to keep all discussions confidential with respect to the opinions of members of the committee.

In relation to Article 20(n) of the Constitution of the IFAA:

FICs and FIPs report to EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE who ‘administers the IFAA’ (Article 13). Therefore, minutes of meetings of FICs and FIPs are NOT ‘confirmed’ until they have been approved by the FIC and FIP at a subsequent meeting and until, as written in the Constitution, they have been approved and debated by the Executive Committee.

In relation to Article 29 of the IFAA Constitution:

Should the General Assembly propose a change to the Constitution of the IFAA then, to allow all constituent member Anatomical Associations of the IFAA to deliberate on the issues involved, the Executive Committee of the IFAA must provide a document outlining the proposed change (together with reasons for the change and the advantages and disadvantages), so that representatives of the Associations can be advised by their Association about voting intentions in a subsequent referendum.

SECTION 2 - Descriptions of the portfolios of Officers of the IFAA Executive Committee (including general expectations) (see also the Constitution of the IFAA)

Officers of the Executive Board are expected to meet at least once a year for an Executive Board Meeting at any place worldwide (preferentially associated with an Anatomical Meeting or Congress) and in addition to perform one or two telephone or Skype Conferences a year. Personal participation in these meetings is mandatory and expected. It should be stated that the participation in the Executive Board is associated with a workload that is voluntary.

1. The duties of the President shall be:

(a) To provide leadership to the IFAA by fostering its main aims and objectives and its traditions and by ensuring strategic development to enhance anatomy’s national and international reputation (Article 15 (1a) of the Constitution of the IFAA).

(b) To represent the IFAA at all events (Article 15 (1b) of the Constitution of the IFAA)

(c) To preside over the sessions of the General Assembly and of the Executive Committee (Article 15 (1c) of the Constitution of the IFAA).

(d) To chair the Nomination Committee for the election of Officers of the Executive Committee (Article 15 (1d) of the Constitution of the IFAA).

(e) To seek out Anatomy Associations and encourage membership of the IFAA.

(f) To initiate activities which will strengthen the discipline of anatomy.

(g) To draw up the agenda (together with the Secretary General) for the General Assembly and the Executive Committee meetings.

2. The duties of the Immediate Past –President shall be:

(a) To maintain the IFAA Constitution and make written changes agreed ad referendum and at the General Assembly. 

(b) To advise Officers, Constituent Associations and the Executive Committee of the IFAA of their responsibilities and activities as specified in the IFAA Constitution.

(c) To act in an advisory capacity to the President and the Executive Committee, particularly in relation to past IFAA activities

(d) To advise the Vice-President responsible for maintaining the historical archive of the IFAA.

3. The duties of the Vice-Presidents shall be:

(a) To carry out the functions of the President in her/his absence in line with Article 15(1) and Article 23 of the Constitution of the IFAA

(b) To liaise with future Congress Presidents to pass on organisational knowledge regarding an IFAA Congress, in order to achieve continuity

(c) One Vice President shall act as a regular communicator between the IFAA (including its Executive Committee) and it’s member Associations. This responsibility will be assisted by ONE of the Secretaries of the Executive Committee as outlined in Article 17 of the Constitution of the IFAA.

(d) One Vice President shall collect and collate information for, an archive related to the history of IFAA. In addition she/he should:

  1. Maintain the historical description on the IFAA webpage
  2. Maintain a database of IFAA activities in a chronological context.

The duties of the Secretary-General shall be:

(a) To substitute for a Vice-President in her/his absence (Article 16 of the Constitution of the IFAA).

(b) To ensure that the decisions of the General Assembly and the Executive Committee are executed (Article 16 of the Constitution of the IFAA). 

(c) To monitor the daily routine activities of the IFAA, i.e. correspondence between the Executive Committee and member societies, correspondence with member societies, etc.

(d) To prepare the report of the activities of the IFAA (Article 16 of the Constitution of the IFAA). Note, this will be achieved together with the President.

(e) With the President, to set the agenda for meetings of the IFAA (i.e. General Assembly and Executive Committee) (Article 16 of the Constitution of the IFAA).

(f) With the Treasurer, to maintain a list of contacts (e.g. representatives) for constituent Anatomical Associations that are full members of the IFAA (Article 16 of the Constitution of the IFAA).

(g) To monitor the activities of a Nomination Committee set up to provide names for election for the Executive Committee (Article 16 of the Constitution of the IFAA).

(h) To care for, and monitor, the content of the IFAA webpage.

(i) To prepare and organize all matters that are related to the election process of new member societies and Executive Board positions before and during IFAA Congresses (General Assemblies).

(j) To liaise with the Secretary responsible for drawing up distribution lists for the IFAA.

(k) To collect and store relevant information about IFAA (to be “the IFAA brain”).

The duties of the Secretaries (who are not Chairs of Federative International Programmes) shall be to record and prepare the minutes of the sessions of the General Assembly and of the Executive Committee as well as to substitute for the Secretary-General and/or the Treasurer in cases of absence. The Secretaries shall also register the attendance of representatives of national associations that are members of the IFAA at the General Assembly and shall organise the voting at the General Assembly (Article 17 of the Constitution of the IFAA).

 In addition, pertaining to the tasks of the three individual Secretaries:

  • ONE of the Secretaries shall assist ONE of the Vice-Presidents in ensuring good liaison with member Associations of the IFAA in line with Article 15(2)
  • ONE of the Secretaries shall maintain in good order, the contacts for the following IFAA distribution lists (togetherwith the Secretary-General and Treasurer):
  • Presidents, Secretary Generals and Treasurers of Member Associations of constituent Anatomical Associations/Societies that are full members of the IFAA
  • Representatives (delegates) of Member Associations
  • ONE of the Secretaries shall assist the Secretary General with obtaining information and news to populate the IFAA Website and ensuring information on the website is up to date.
  • ONE of the Secretaries shall take the minutes of each Executive Board Meeting and of the General Assembly during IFAA congresses.

The duties of the Treasurer shall be:

(a) To take responsibility for the resources of the IFAA.

(b) To collect and deposit the income into bank accounts of the IFAA.

(c) To maintain the financial records of the IFAA (including the bank accounts, all records of deposits, expenditures and withdrawals, and any and all costs relating to maintaining such records).

(d) To advise the Executive Committee of the membership status of national Anatomical Associations/Societies.

(e)  To pay such sums of money that are authorized by the Executive Committee to individuals and/or organisations (in line with the aims of the IFAA).

(f) To liaise with the Secretary responsible for drawing up distribution lists for the IFAA.

(g) To present the IFAA accounts at each annual meeting of the Executive Committee and at the General Assembly at the IFAA’s International Congress.

(h) Three months prior to the General Assembly of the IFAA, to appoint a certified public accountant to perform a review procedure on all of the IFAA’s accounts and financial statements.

7. The duties of the Editor of the IFAA Newsletter will include:

  • Production of an official Newsletter at least twice a year for distribution to Member Associations
  • Liaising with Member Associations to obtain information and articles for the Newsletter
  • Submission of an annual report to serve before the IFAA Executive at it’s mid-year meeting

8. Duties of Chairs of Federative International Programmes (FIPs) and Committees (FICs)

The duties of the Chairs of FIPs shall be to take responsibility for coordinating the daily activities of their Programmes or Committees. In addition, the Chairs of the respective FIP or FIC are responsible for:

  • Creation of a five-year strategic plan at the beginning of a cycle
  • Submission of an annual report to serve before the IFAA Executive at it’s mid-year meeting.

In addition, the duties of ALL members of EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE should include:

  • Seeking out Anatomy Associations and encouraging membership of the IFAA.
  • Initiating activities which will strengthen the discipline of anatomy.
  • Ensuring that the decisions of the General Assembly and the Executive Committee are executed.

SECTION 3 - Guidance for Code of Conduct for IFAA Meetings and Communications

1.The Chair of the meeting, in consultation with the Secretary and Chairs of subcommittees, shall agree the dates and timings of meetings and their agenda;

2. The Chair shall call the meeting to order and can, at any point, declare suspension of business;

3. All members who wish to speak should do so through the Chair - that is, they catch the chair's eye (such as through raising their arm) and wait to be invited to speak. Should a speaker talk directly to a member of the committee other than the Chair, the Chair may deem this inappropriate without needing to provide explanations;

4. Normally, members may speak only once on one motion or amendment and for a period not exceeding 10 minutes. For this purpose, points of order and information are not classified as speaking. However, the Chair might allow this rule to be waivered;

5. Members should show respect for each other and for each other’s views, even when there are marked differences of views that are strongly held;

6. Where following a debate there is no clear consensus, the Chair might agree to a request for a vote. Voting is usually carried out by a show of hands. The Chair will normally decide whether the voting numbers are counted and recorded, but any member can ask that this be done.

7. In addition to voting against a motion, any member who strongly opposes the motion may ask that their dissent be recorded in the minutes. This will then be recorded in the minutes along the lines of this example: "Dr X asked that her dissent be recorded.

8. Provided that the committee's constitution/conventions provides for it, the Chair can exercise a casting (extra) vote in the event of a tie in voting numbers. Traditionally (but not necessarily) in cases where the vote is between the status quo and an alternative, the Chair votes in favour of the status quo.

9. Unless there is agreement by the committee and/or the Chair, the deliberations of the committee shall remain confidential and all records of the meeting shall be written under the principle of anonymity;

10. The results of the committee’s work may be deemed by the Chair to be the property of the committee and of the IFAA and therefore not for reporting elsewhere. This applies particularly to results of the committee that will be published in the public domain (e.g. articles in learned journals).

11. Where the rules of debate and reporting are flaunted, the Chair can ask for the person(s) involved to desist, make a public statement correcting errors or loss of confidentiality, and/or request that they are no longer members of the committee.

[i] However, in the event that the Executive Committee considers by a two-thirds majority of its members that a Chair of a programme or committee should continue to ensure successful completion of important tasks, such a Chair might be allowed to continue beyond a two-term period of office but shall NOT have voting rights in the Executive Committee of the IFAA. This requires approval of the General Assembly.


International Federation of Associations of Anatomists

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