Statutes (English)

The Statutes of the Nonprofit

Berlin Forum on Global Politics e.V. (BFoGP)

Preamble

The Berlin Forum on Global Politics e.V. believes that the establishment of a public forum within a global and increasingly cosmopolitan city is of fundamental importance for people of different origins – without discrimination or exclusion – to come together and deal critically and progressively with the topics and challenges of our increasingly global, dynamic, and ever-changing world.

Berlin has become a truly global city in the decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Due to its turbulent history, the city is, at once, an example and a symbol of the many opportunities and challenges our world has once confronted, is currently facing and will face in the future. It is a special place where, by means of the encounters and continuous exchanges of thoughts between people, innovative solutions, even to seemingly insurmountable problems and barriers, were found, leading to the reduction and even elimination of some of these barriers. Building on this legacy, the Berlin Forum on Global Politics e.V. is committed to establishing a public and non-partisan forum, with headquarters in Berlin, to promote a democratic, plural, and multi-stakeholder debate and a transparent and participatory dialogue on topics of global political relevance among individuals, groups, and societies from around the world. The multicultural and multinational constitution of our members is an essential feature and key strength of our association.

Our global and digital world produces information with such abundance and speed that large numbers of people not only feel overwhelmed, but also experience it with the oppressive sensation of somebody drowned in news. As a result, the majority of the general public prefer to rely on “common sense” and general knowledge than to inform themselves in more detail, which in turn prevents change and  reinforces the status quo. The Berlin Forum on Global Politics e.V. believes, accordingly, that easily accessible critical analyses and public debates that inform, create knowledge, and address global topics of general relevance critically and progressively are needed to effect the necessary changes to our world. For these reasons, the Berlin Forum on Global Politics e. V. does not exclusively attend to a singular topic, but engages in efforts to clarify specific topics and events of global relevance as they unfold.

The Berlin Forum on Global Politics was founded in 2012 by an international group of doctoral candidates from the Centre for Global Politics (CGP) at the Freie Universität (FU) Berlin. Built upon shared values, concerns and aspirations, we founded the association in order to: advance science and research; advance internationalism, tolerance in all areas of culture and the concept of international understanding; as well as promote political education for nonprofit purposes. Our central objective is not only to promote access to and understanding of global politics to as many people as possible, but also widen and deepen it. Thereby, we place high value on a dynamic dialogue among various social stakeholders in order to guarantee a strong plurality of opinions and perspectives.

§1. Name, headquarters, fiscal year

1) The association enters the Register of Associations (Vereinsregister) with the official name: ‘Berlin Forum on Global Politics e.V.’ (hereafter association) and uses the abbreviation of ‘BFoGP’ in addition.

2) The association has its headquarters in Berlin (Germany).

3) Additional offices in other places must carry the name of the city, the country or the region together with the word ‘office’ in order to guarantee a clear differentiation from the head office.

4) The fiscal year is the calendar year.

§2. Goals and tasks of the association

The association pursues, exclusively and directly, nonprofit purposes. The main goals of the association are the following ones:

1) Advancement of science and research: The association promotes the better understanding of topical issues with global political relevance, both in academic and expert circles and within the general public.

2) Advancement of internationalism, of tolerance in all areas of culture, and of the concept of international understanding: The association promotes the development and strengthening of a cooperative, supportive, and globally oriented society. The association seeks to actively contribute to peace and equality among all people throughout the globe regardless of their nationality, citizenship, ethnic, and cultural origin and identity.

3) Advancement of political education with nonprofit purposes: The association promotes political education through research, enlightenment, and public debate regarding the development, structures, and dynamics of global politics. The understanding gained about complex interactions between domestic and foreign politics should allow civil society actors to use it for purposes of local and global public benefit.

In order to realize these goals, the association carries out the following tasks:

1) Undertaking of interdisciplinary empirical and theoretical research projects focusing on global politics, whose results should be published promptly.

2) Creation (i.e., conceptualization, editing, and publishing) and distribution of ‘open knowledge’ about global political topics in form of digital and/or printed publications; this includes also the development, maintenance, support, and distribution of digitally-based information and exchange fora and other formats to be decided upon, which contribute to civil society’s understanding of global politics.

3) Organization and undertaking of public events (such as lectures, expert workshops, and conferences) in order to foster public understanding of global politics and its debates with the ethos of a democratic, tolerant, and cosmopolitan society.

4) Organization and undertaking of workshops and lectures with scientists, experts, and interested parties from the general public so as to develop notions together that strengthen an understanding of civil society which transcends countries and cultures.

§3. Public benefit

1) The association pursues, exclusively and directly, public benefit purposes that comply with the ‘Tax-privileged purposes’ chapter of Germany’s Fiscal Code. The association is selflessly active; it does not primarily pursue profit-yielding purposes, but rather promotes the public benefit through public education and the provision of information.

2) Resources of the association can be used only in accordance with the statutory goals.  Membership status does not confer the right to receive financial profits from the resources of the association. In case members withdraw from the association, members cannot claim its assets.

3) No person can be favoured either through expenditures that do not comply with the purposes of the association or through disproportionately high remuneration.

4) People that volunteer can be reimbursed only in the case of proven expenses. The association can remunerate members or third parties an appropriate compensation for the execution of regular tasks or tasks within the scope of specific projects, if financial means are available. Travel expenses that result from trips intended to fulfil the association’s goals can be reimbursed.

§4. Funding of the association

The funding employed to carry out the association’s tasks are received through:

  • Membership fees (main source of income of the association)
  • Monetary and material donations from natural and legal entities
  • Grants from public and private sources
  • Grants for specific projects and/or publications
  • Voluntary donations to cover production and distribution costs of publications, materials, seminars, courses, etc.
  • Other contributions

§5. Membership and termination of membership

1) Members of the association can be all natural and legal entities that support and promote the goals and the tasks of the association in accordance with §2 and that acknowledge the statutes.

2) Membership can be acquired through a personal membership application and the subsequent decision of the executive board. The membership acceptance is made effective by a written notification from the board. If there is a rejection of membership application by the executive, the applicant has the right to appeal to the general assembly. This decision about membership is final.

3) Membership terminates in the event of death, withdrawal, or expulsion

  • The resignation of a member requires a written statement sent to the executive board not later than three months before the end of the fiscal year.
  • A member can be expelled by a decision of the executive board, if they

1. act contrary to the association’s goals or do not fulfil their duties towards the association.

2. are more than three months late with the payment of their membership fee and, despite a written reminder to pay the fee within at least four weeks as well as the threat of expulsion, still do not comply with payment of their membership fee according to §9.

  • An objectively verifiable inactivity can lead to removal from the members’ list. The imminent removal from the members’ list must be pointed out in advance to the member in written form. The expulsion of a member must be confirmed by the general assembly with a two-thirds majority. The member threatened by the expulsion is to be invited to the general assembly and should be heard to before the final decision.

4) There is a differentiation among ordinary, supporting, and honorary members:

  1. ordinary (active and passive) members are obliged to pay membership fees in accordance with § 9
  2. supporting members support the goals and tasks of the association through financial contributions in accordance with §9
  3. honorary members can be invited directly and in written form by the general assembly. Their task is to support the association through promotion of its projects to the general public.

5) The association commits itself to data protection. Within the scope of membership administration the following data of members is collected: first name, last name, date of birth, place of birth, place of residence, and professional activity. These data are processed for membership purposes and are stored by the association. The association publishes a member’s data only when the member in question has given their verbal or written consent.

6) Communication within the association can be carried out in written form. Notifications of any kind are considered received if they are sent to the postal or e-mail address given to the association. Besides German, English is an official language of the association (also in written form).

§6. Bodies of the association

The bodies of the association are:

1) Executive board (management)

2) General assembly (superior decision-making body)

§7. Executive board

The executive board is responsible for representing the association according to §26 of Germany’s Civil Code and for the management of its affairs. The executive board consists of a:

  1.    First chairperson
  2.    Second chairperson (i.e., deputy)
  3.    Secretary
  4.    Treasurer

The association is represented, judicially and extrajudicially, jointly by two members of the executive board. A person can hold only one position within the executive board.

1) The executive board is responsible for all affairs of the association, in particular for:

  • the management of the current business and legal responsibilities of the association
  • the organization and preparation of the general assembly, including setting the agenda,
  • the implementation of the decisions of the general assembly,
  • the management of the association’s assets and the preparation of the annual report,
  • the admission of new members.

2) Membership in the executive board requires membership in the association. The general assembly elects the executive board for a period of two years (which starts once the results of the elections are available). The re-election or the premature removal of a member of the executive board by the general assembly is allowed. A member of the executive board shall remain after the regular term of office until the election of their successor comes into effect. If a member of the executive board resigns, the remaining members of the executive board are allowed to elect a new one from the members of the association for that position until the election by the general assembly of a successor to the executive board.

3) The executive board shall meet as required. The meetings shall be convened by the executive board; at least one week notice should be observed. The executive board has a quorum if at least two members are present. As a rule, the executive board makes its decisions by consensus. In cases where, however, no consensus can be reached, the executive board shall decide by majority of votes. In these cases, the executive board must inform the members of the deviation from the principle of consensus and voting behavior. 

4) If a member of the executive board resigns during the regular term of office, the remaining members of the executive board unanimously elect a replacement for the remaining regular term of office of the retiring member.

5) If a position within the executive board is vacant, the executive board may temporarily appoint another member to the executive board (co-option).

6) Positions in the executive board are exercised honorarily. However, the general assembly may decide that compensation may be paid. The executive board is responsible for the terms of the contract. Representation allowances of the executive board may be paid upon presentation of proper accounts and stating the reason and necessity.

The decisions of the executive board are to be promptly recorded. The minutes shall be signed by the secretary or, alternatively, by another executive board member.

§8. General assembly

In the general assembly, each member present – including honorary members – has a full voice. The delegation of voting rights is only possible in written form. A member will be allowed to delegate only three votes in total.

1) The general assembly is responsible for the decisions regarding  the following matters:

a. Amending the statutes,

b. The appointment and dismissal of members of the executive board,

c. The acceptance of the annual report and the exoneration of the executive board,

d. The appointment of honorary members and the expulsion of members from the association,

e. Determining the membership fee and the membership contributions,

f. Deciding on applications and the appointment of committees, delegates, and auditors

g. The dissolution of the association.

2) At least once a year, if possible during the first quarter, the executive board shall convene a general assembly. The assembly shall be convened in written form or by email with a notice period of two weeks and shall include the agenda. The period begins on the day following the date of sending. The invitation must be sent to the last known (electronic or postal) address of the member. Participation can be in person or – subject to prior approval by the executive board – by electronic means (video conference, etc.).

3) The agenda is set by the executive board. Each member of the association may request amendments to the agenda, at least one week prior to the general assembly, in written form to the executive board. The executive board decides on the motion. The general assembly shall decide by a majority vote of the members present; this shall not apply to motions that have to do with changes in the statutes of the association, the dissolution of the association, or the change of the membership fee.

4) The executive board shall convene an extraordinary meeting of the general assembly if required in the interests of the association or if a quarter of the members requests it in written form, stating the purpose and reasons. As far as circumstances permit, the invitation should be sent with a notice period of two weeks before the meeting and should include the agenda.

5) The general assembly is chaired by the first chairperson. In their absence, the meeting shall be chaired by one of the other executive board members.

6) The general assembly has a quorum if at least one quarter of all members of the association are present (either in person or by video conference) and if it is convened in due time and form. When there is no quorum, the executive board is obliged to convene a second meeting with the same agenda within four weeks. This constitutes a quorum regardless of the number of members present. This fact is to be stated in the invitation.

7) The type of voting is determined by the chairperson of the general assembly. The vote must be cast in written form and anonymously if a member has requested so (for better data protection, election officials can be chosen; the content of votes are protected data and there is an obligation to treat these as such). A simple majority of valid votes is required. Abstentions are not considered. For changes in the statutes, a three-quarters majority is required, and for the association’s dissolution, a two-thirds majority is required. Changes to the goals of the association require the consent of all members; Absent members can, within one month, provide their decisions on the matter in written form to the executive board. The period begins on the day following the general assembly.

8) Before the election for the positions of the executive board, an election official or council is to be chosen. Elections are generally performed separately for each position and must be submitted in written form. If in the first ballot no candidate receives the majority of the votes, a runoff between the two candidates who have previously obtained the most votes is carried out. Abstentions are regarded as invalid votes.

9) By the end of the meeting, the minutes recording all the decisions made by the members should be concluded. This is to be signed by the secretary and by the chairperson.

§9. Membership contributions

1) Each member has to pay a membership fee, the amount and due date of which are determined by the general assembly. This determination should adequately consider the accessibility of the association to the general public.

2) If necessary, the executive board can decide, by majority of votes, to fully or partially exempt a member from paying the membership fee. Honorary members are always exempt from all contributions. The financial situation of students, pensioners, and unemployed people are acknowledged by a reduced membership.

3) The contributions are collected every twice a year.

4) In order to finance specific projects or to cope with financial distresses, the general assembly can approve the implementation of special contributions.

5) New members have to pay the membership fee in its entirety within two weeks of their acceptance. The amount of the membership fee is decided by the general assembly by a simple majority, and, if necessary, updated by decision of the general assembly.

§10. Rights and duty of the members

1) Every member has the right to participate actively in the implementation of the purposes of the association and to participate in collective events. Every member has an equal say and vote in the general assembly.

2) Every member has the duty to promote the interests of the association, especially to pay their membership fee regularly and, as far as it is in their power, support the events of the association.

3) Every member has, within the framework of the association’s goals, the same right to use the association’s property and to get assistance, in word and deed, conveyed by the executive board.

§11. Recording of decisions

1) The decisions of the executive board and the general assembly shall be taken down in minutes, which should be signed by the secretary and by the chairperson.

2) Besides German, English is the official working and written language of the association.

§12. Amendments to statutes

The statutes can only be amended with the support of a two-thirds majority of the members entitled to vote.

§13. Publications

Publications of the association are all those edited materials used to make known and to distribute, promptly, in accordance with §2, the results of the association’s projects.

The publications that are published by the association must bear the official logo and recognize the authorship of the authors involved. Official communications and political communiqués edited by the executive board do not require acknowledgment of authorship, as they are signed on behalf of the association.

Contributions of the association to books, collected works, press articles, and electronic media, published by third parties, should explicitly refer to the association through attribution.

The association commits itself to ‘open knowledge’ and to making its electronic publications available for free and freely accessible under ‘Creative Commons’ licences. For published works in print and digital formats, fees can be charged to cover the costs of production.

The publications may be made in cooperation with other individuals, groups, and organizations; particularly in those cases where a part or the whole work or even the edition is financed by a third party, or if the publication includes the production and distribution of materials.

§14. Public finances and audit

1) The general assembly decides the financial framework for the membership contributions.

2) The treasurer is responsible for the management of the association’s financial resources and, at end of each fiscal year, is obliged to account for all incomes and expenditures, which before being presented to the members, have to be checked by at least two members of the executive board.  

3) The budget and the use of financial resources for the upcoming fiscal year have to be decided at the general assembly by two-thirds of the members present.

4) The liability of the association is accountable to creditors’ claims solely against its assets.

15. Dissolution of the association, termination for other reasons, loss of tax-privileged goals

1) The dissolution of the association must be decided by a three-quarters majority of the members in a general assembly. The decision can be made only at an ordinary general assembly. Unless the general assembly decides otherwise, the first and the second chairpersons shall act jointly as authorized liquidators.

2) Upon dissolution of the association or loss of its fiscal status as a tax-exempt association, remaining assets pass to the the SOS Kinderdorf e. V. (a registered charity). The designated assets should be used immediately and exclusively for nonprofit purposes.

3) Liquidators must be the chairperson and their deputy (if necessary, also supported by the treasurer) as a collective representation, unless the general assembly decides otherwise.

4) The preceding regulations apply accordingly if the association is dissolved for other reasons or loses its legal capacity.

5) The intellectual heritage of the association remains a common good.

The wording of the above statutes corresponds to the statutes entered in the Register for Associations and contains the amendments that were adopted in the general assembly held on 15th September 2015. For correctness and completeness pursuant to § 71 paragraph 1 of Germany’s Civil Code, the executive board signs as follows:

Daniel Cardoso (first chairperson)

Miguelángel Verde Garrido (second chairperson)