The Constitution of the ISO, as adopted at the National Conference, 20 November, 2016
International Socialist Organisation Constitution
- Purpose and preamble
- The ISO is an organisation of revolutionary socialists in Aotearoa/New Zealand dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism internationally and the construction of a democratic socialist world. A broad outline of the political foundations of the I.S.O. are laid out in “Where we Stand” document in Appendix 1.
- The ISO stands in and develops the revolutionary socialist tradition of Marx & Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, the first four congresses of the Third International, and the post-Second World War tradition of International Socialism. In other words, we are distinct from social democratic and Stalinist traditions.
- The aim of the organisation is to lay the foundations for the building of a revolutionary socialist party comprised in its overwhelming majority of workers.
- A person must apply, if only informally, to join the ISO. Membership may be declined by the relevant branch or the National Committee (NC) by reason of the applicant seeking membership for an ulterior motive or the applicant may bring the ISO into disrepute or that the applicant is considered unlikely to meet membership obligations.
- A member of the ISO must broadly support the purpose and aims outlined in Section A above.
- All members must pay dues according to the nationally agreed dues structure. Membership lapses upon dues payable becoming 3 months in arrears.
- Members in paid employment must join the appropriate union.
- Where a member has care responsibilities the organisation shall take measures to assist the member to participate in the life of the organisation.
- A member must be politically active, take and sell our regular publication, and participate in their branch. A member-at-large must participate in the ISO and report to the NC. However, personal circumstances, such as care responsibility, illness or shift work, may limit a member’s ability to participate in political life. Membership of the ISO will be retained while constraining personal circumstances exist.
- Democratic centralism
- All members of the ISO have equal rights.
- Decision making within the organisation shall follow a democratic process.
- The rights and obligations of membership are informed by the principles set out in “Tikanga of the ISO” in Appendix 2.
- In any body of the ISO the Chair of the meeting shall conduct any votes to be taken. The Chair has the right to cast a normal vote.
- Proxy votes are not allowed.
- Debate and discussion is encouraged. In principle debate is carried out in the open. However, in order for frank discussions to take place and to avoid public misunderstanding of ISO policies the branch may close meetings to non-members.
- At the NC’s discretion, when there are differences of opinion on important questions, ISO publications shall reflect the different standpoints.
- Political action shall be carried out in unity in accordance with the democratically-arrived at decision.
- All elected bodies of the ISO are subject to the right of recall.
- National Conference
- The sovereign decision-making body of the ISO is the annual National Conference, at which all members are entitled to attend and speak.
- Any member, group of members, or faction may put proposals to the conference, providing that the proposal has been published in advance in an internal bulletin.
- Any member, group of members, or faction may propose amendments either published in advance of the conference in an internal bulletin or during the conference. Wrecking amendments, i.e. amendments designed to conflict with the broad aims of the proposal, are not allowed.
- At any time after the National Committee (NC) has notified the National Conference arrangements any faction of two or more members will have the rights to have their material published in pre-conference internal bulletins, have their material circulated during the conference, hold faction meetings during the pre-conference period and during the conference. Factions may advance specific goals or a general programme consistent with the purpose and aims of the organisation. Factional rights outlined above shall end upon the ending of the conference. After the conference factions may continue informally without the rights to publicise material, except at the discretion of the NC.
- The National Conference shall be opened by a member of the NC who shall conduct an election for the conference Chair or, if members wish, Chairs of sessions.
- The outgoing NC must give a report on its actions and decisions over the previous year to members at a session during the conference.
- After all proposals have been decided the National Conference shall elect the NC. The election of the NC shall follow nominations for a complete committee (a slate of members). Any member, group of members or faction may nominate a slate providing it consists of a minimum of 3 members. The nominated slates shall be put to the vote. If no one slate obtains a majority of the conference, the slates will be put to the vote again with the lowest polling slate removed. This process will be repeated until a slate obtains a majority.
- After the election of the NC the National Conference shall elect an Appeals Committee of 3 members by the same slate system. NC members shall not be eligible for election or to nominate members of the Appeals Committee.
- National Committee
- The NC’s role is the practical and political leadership of the organisation between Annual Conferences.
The NC’s duties include:
- Editorial control of all printed and electronic publications of the ISO
- Implement the decisions of the Annual Conference
- Foster internal democracy by instituting items for discussion within branches, publishing internal bulletins and calling special conferences as and when required
- Determine new national initiatives, tactics and policies after consultation with branches
- Take executive decisions when time does not allow consultation
- Determine the formation and dissolution of branches and allocation of members to branches after consultation with the members concerned.
- Set membership dues
- Take disciplinary decisions.
- To maintain a secure register of members
- After each meeting the NC shall produce a brief summary report for members that outline the matters of substance discussed and decisions made. Any matters of substance that were contentious shall be indicated and the position taken by each NC member given in brief.
- The NC shall arrange the National Conference at least annually and notify members of the date and place at least 3 months in advance. The pre-conference arrangements shall allow for the publication of internal bulletins for members and factions to publish their proposals in advance.
- A resignation from the NC that occurs before the 3 month pre-conference period will generate a vacancy that shall be filled by a democratic procedure as determined by the NC.
- The membership has the right of recall of the NC at any time, by vote of a simple majority. The recall votes and subsequent election votes can be carried out by the Appeals Committee.
- The NC’s role is the practical and political leadership of the organisation between Annual Conferences.
- Special National Conferences
- In addition to the Annual National Conference further special conferences shall be arranged by the NC as it deems desirable or at the request of 50% of the membership. The agenda of special conferences shall be limited to the purpose for conference.
- Attendance at a special conference may be delegate-based from branches or by all members at the discretion of the NC.
- The base unit and the core of the organisation of the ISO is the geographical branch. Geographically isolated members will be allocated to member-at-large status with full membership rights. Members-at-large will report to the NC and act in concert with its decisions.
- The branch meeting is the place for political discussion, political education, reporting back of members’ political activity and planning further activity.
- Each branch shall at least annually elect a Branch Committee (BC) by the slate system. The main duties of the BC are to organise and set the agenda for branch meetings, communicate with branch members and contacts, and to take responsibility for the branch’s assets including the stock of publications and branch funds.
- Branch Committees have the responsibility to produce notes on the activities of the branch, the sales of our publications, changes in membership and the decisions made at their meetings. These notes will be communicated to the branch members and the NC regularly. The branch will provide a branch report and financial report to the National Conference.
- That the branch may at any time recall their BC provided that they have 50% of the branch on side.
- Disciplinary provisions are necessary for two reasons: a) to preserve the political cohesion of the organisation, and b) to preserve the integrity of the organisation before the working class. Disciplinary issues could be unacceptable personal behaviour or unacceptable political activity. In principle the issues around misconduct of members must be dealt with in a branch in a timely manner. Formal disciplinary action is taken by the NC and may be either censure, suspension or expulsion.
- Any member or branch committee may make a disciplinary allegation in writing to the NC. The NC may at its discretion investigate, consider any verbal or written reports and take a disciplinary decision.
- For alleged unacceptable personal behaviour the NC must give the member the opportunity to be heard. If the opportunity is not taken the NC may consider the allegation in the absence of the member in consultation with the branch committee concerned.
- For alleged unacceptable political activity the allegation should first be discussed at a branch meeting. The allegation should be put to the member(s) concerned who shall be given the opportunity to be heard. The branch may make recommendations to the NC. The NC may conduct any enquiry as it deems fit and use its discretion as to any disciplinary action being taken.
- If unacceptable personal behaviour or unacceptable political activity is alleged against a member of the NC that person cannot participate in the deliberations of the NC on the allegation.
- Appeals Committee
- An Appeals Committee will be voted on at National Conference.
- Parties to a disciplinary decision may appeal to the Appeals Committee. An appeal must be lodged within one month of the disciplinary decision.
- The Appeals Committee may at its discretion revoke, amend or confirm the original disciplinary action. The Appeals Committee decision is final.
- The Appeals Committee will report its decisions to the Annual National Conference.
- Amendment of the Constitution
- Any member or body of the organisation may submit an amended constitution to an Annual National Conference.
- A change to the constitution requires a simple majority vote, at conference where it is discussed.
Appendix A. Where We Stand
Appendix B. Tikanga for the ISO
|Value||Meaning||What it looks like|
|A sense of belonging.||Getting to know one another.
|It is a measurement of people’s ability to extend aroha.||Comrades helping each other, Tautoko/support, coaching, awhi/caring, active listening, walking the walk, follow up.|
|Oneness.||Everyone doing the same thing at the same time. Paddling the same waka, following the same goals.|
|Self-governance.||Comrades being in control. Being aware of one’s autonomy.
Deciding on the path that best suits one’s self or one’s branch or the organisation.
|Sharing of information.||Comrades building on their knowledge. Learning new information /strategies.|
|Understanding.||Can see the relevance in learning something and how they can apply it.|
|Tuakana / Teina
|Older/senior comrades looking after the younger/recent comrades or experienced comrades helping less experienced comrades|
|Guard our resources. Our studies. Our understanding of socialist ways of being. Maintaining links for the future.||Reciprocity (giving back)
Growing the organisation
|Remembering and honouring the history of the Socialist movement.||Making whanau links in the group.|
|Spiritual wellbeing.||A sense of wellbeing. Being responsive to the energies of others. Being empathetic.|
|Our way of being comrades. Expectations, aspirations and values.||We would see comrades operating within the confines of established tikanga|
|Celebratory feast.||Sharing of kai to facilitate communication, to facilitate a sense of belonging.|
|Paying respect to the spiritual connection.||Knowing and respecting each ISO branch and the connection to the whole.|
|It is you
It is your uniqueness.
|It is our life force. Helping maintain our uniqueness and individuality.|
|Kanohi ki te Kanohi
kah/nor/he key teh kah/nor/he
|Face to face communication.||A form of communication to be used when both parties feel comfortable. Leaves less room for misunderstanding.|
|ISO protocols- These protocols are still to be created.||The established protocols used to minimise misunderstandings.|
|The courtyard of a Maori meeting house, especially as a social or ceremonial forum.||Our meeting places will be our Marae. This is where we will forge our connections.|
|The process of establishing relationships, relating well to others.||ISO comrades will help each other forge connections.|