You are here

UIA Survival: Separating Siamese Twins?

A challenge of conflicting cultures (Part #1)

Dissociation of the statutory UAI Culture from the operational UIA Culture
Survival vs Centennial celebrations?
Surrogate strategic decision-making
Erosion of integrity and ethical sensitivity
Hidden agendas?

[Parts: Next | Last | All ]


On 21-22 January 2005 a meeting of the UIA Bureau was held on the initiative of members of the Bureau, despite earlier reluctance on the part of the President. Members of the Bureau were unable to articulate an agenda for the meeting in advance - other than to 'review' the current situation. A draft agenda prepared by the Secretariat had been accepted with modifications by the Bureau and circulated to other Council members for information and to solicit possible inputs. Numerous documents on the situation were prepared - most circulated in advance. The prepared agenda was not followed and extensive time was devoted to points that had not been placed on it. Discussion of urgent matters was avoided.

Information was provided by the Secretariat concerning the cash flow crisis that was forecast to re-emerge in June-July 2005, partly as a consequence of having to repay the loan made by the UIA publisher to survive a similar crisis in August 2004, if income generating measures already put in place by the Secretariat are less successful than forecast (subscriptions, etc). This crisis would result in immediate inability to pay salaries.

The following account is a description of the circumstances that resulted in the author, as Secretary-General ad interim, renouncing this function during the course of the meeting. The function had been attributed by the Bureau meeting of June 2004 in order to take swift remedial measures to ensure the survival of the UIA through 2004 and 2005 - following the inability (for family reasons) of the elected Secretary-General, André Onkelinx. Survival through to June 2005 seems assured.

This account is extremely frank because a principal challenge in UIA decision-making processes is the marked tendency to hide behind formalities and politeness to the advantage of some in avoiding unpleasant management challenges and implementing effective responses to them. Any effort to acknowledge challenges is labelled as negative and unconstructive - to the point of being perceived as rude and inappropriate. Use of criteria of politeness ands due process as a form of procedural manipulation or blackmail is unacceptable - especially at a time when the survival of a 100-year old institution is threatened. A high degree of frankness is then called for from those who have invested decades of effort in ensuring that it thrived.

In engaging in this report, the challenge is to find a form that can help to reframe the debate rather than to exacerbate its dysfunction characteristics. This suggests that, although the 'UIA' is an apolitical organizaton, it is effectively faced with a political struggle to preserve and develop a particular set of values in the face of forces that would seek to eliminate them.

develop a particular set of values in the face of forces that would seek to eliminate them.

[Parts: Next | Last | All ]