Draft of the constitution of the NEALT

Version 0.9.4 (Thursday 16.3.2006 12:00 EET)

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I. Name and Domicile

  1. The name of the Association is Northern European Association for Language Technology (NEALT)[1], and its domicile is Helsinki, Finland [2].
  2. The Geographical Area of the Association consists of the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark including the Faroe Islands and Greenland, Iceland), the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Northwest Russia [4].
  3. The Official Language of the Association is English. [3] Official calls and documents of the association will be written in English, which is also the language of its Business Meetings.

II. Purposes

The Association is a scientific, non-profit and non-political association focusing its activities especially on the Geographical Area and on the languages spoken in that area. The purposes of the association are:

  1. To promote research and development activities in the field of language technology, including speech technology.
  2. To promote cooperation and information exchange among related professional and technical societies.
  3. To represent language technology to funding bodies and government agencies.
  4. To disseminate information on language technology to the general public.

III. Membership

  1. Regular Membership is open to any individual [5] with an interest in language technology who lives in the Geographical Area of the Association or who has an explicit interest or connection with the Geographical Area. Each Regular Member has one vote in the Association's ballots [6] and may hold office in the Association.
  2. Supporting membership is open to commercial companies, associations, institutions and societies which have an interest in language technology or its applications. Supporting Members pay Dues (usually higher than the Regular Members) but they have no vote in the meetings and they cannot hold office in the Association.
  3. There are two main classes of Regular Memberships: Normal and Student. Student members are eligible for reduced dues rates. To qualify for the student rate, a person must be enrolled as a full-time student at a university in the Geographical Area.
  4. New members are accepted by the Executive Committee based on applications.
  5. Dues for each calendar year are payable upon receipt of a dues statement and membership will lapse if dues are not received. [7]
  6. Distinguished scholars in the field may be elected Fellows of the Association by the Business Meeting, upon recommendation by the Nominating Committee. The number of living Fellows shall not exceed twenty-five; no more than three may be selected at any Business Meeting.
  7. The Executive Committee shall maintain a list of members. The list of members shall contain information on the name, address, e-mail address, and nationality of the members. All communication from the Association to the Members is sent via e-mail to the addresses supplied by the members.
  8. A Membership is automatically terminated in the event of death of an individual, and the dissolution of other legal entities (such as companies and organizations).

IV. Business Meeting

  1. There shall be a Business Meeting of the Association at least every second year, with notice mailed to the Membership at least two months before the meeting date. The call will be sent to the email address provided by the Member.

    Business Meetings can be held in conjunction with workshops or conferences (such as NODALIDA), or by electronic means (such as electronic mail or videoconference).

  2. In votings and elections, the alternative which gets most votes will become the decision of the meeting, or the candidate who gets most votes will be elected. If two or more alternatives share the same highest number of votes, (a) in open ballots, the chairperson will have the casting vote and (b) in closed ballots and elections, a decision will be reached by drawing lots.

  3. The Agenda of the Business Meeting is as follows:

    1. Election of a chairperson for the meeting.
    2. Election of the secretary for the meeting.
    3. Election of two members to check the minutes of the meeting.
    4. Establish if the meeting has been properly convened,
    5. Presentation of the President's report,
    6. Presentation of the Treasurer's Annual Financial and Membership Reports,
    7. Presentation of the Account Auditor's report,
    8. Adoption of the reports and accounts,
    9. Establishing the annual Membership Dues for the following two years for each type of Member: Supporting Members and Regular Members of two types, Normal Members and Student Members,
    10. The election of the members of the Executive Committee of the Association (including the President, the Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Editor in Chief and other positions) as needed and on the basis of the nominations by the Nominating Committee and Regular Members. For each position, a deputy shall also be elected. An option is to elect the deputies according to the Succession scheme.
    11. Election of one Accounts Auditor and one Deputy Auditor.
    12. Any other business which has been mentioned in the call.

V. Administration

  1. The administration of the Association shall be the responsibility of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee consists of six members [8]:

    • a President of the Association,
    • a Vice-President of the Association,
    • a Secretary of the Association,
    • a Treasurer of the Association,
    • the Editor in Chief of the publications of the Association, and
    • one additional member.

    The Business Meeting elects the members of the Executive Committee. The new Executive Committee elected shall take office on January 1st of the year following the Business Meeting and the term of it is two calendar years.

  1. The normal Terms and the expected Succession of the members of the Executive Committee are as follows [9]:

    1. The Vice-President is elected by the Business Meeting for a 2-year term, and after those two years, the Vice-President becomes the President for the next 2-year term.
    2. The President elected by the Business Meeting, or entered that position through Succession, leaves that position after the 2-year term.
    3. The Secretary, the Treasurer and the Editor in Chief usually serve two successive 2-year terms.
    4. The additional member of the Executive Committee has a term of two years.

    If vacancies occur, the Executive Committee shall appoint replacements according to the scheme of Succession and the deputies elected by the Business Meeting and these serve until December 31 following the next Business Meeting.

  2. The President of the Association shall chair the Executive Committee.

    The President and the Vice-President are authorized to sign the name of the Association in all matters, and the Treasurer has the right to sign the name of the Association in financial transactions.

    The Treasurer is empowered to deposit and disburse funds and to enter into contracts as appropriate to conduct the business of the Association. The Treasurer shall deliver a written Annual Financial and Membership Report, to the Association by the end of each year. The Association may have one or more bank accounts.

  3. The Executive Committee shall (a) determine the place and time of the Association's meetings and appoint members to be responsible for organizing its programs and for local arrangements; (b) select or approve the editors and editorial boards of any publication sponsored by the Association; (c) appoint members to various positions and form committees to assist in conducting the activities of the Association; (d) collect the Dues of the Association according to the decisions of the Business Meeting; (e) be responsible for a review of the Treasurer's Annual Financial and Membership Reports before these reports are presented to the Business Meeting; (f) establish and oversee Special Interest Groups of the Association; (g) fix the times of the Business Meeting, prepare the agenda and announce the meetings.

  1. There shall be an Accounts Auditor elected by the Business Meeting and a Deputy. The duty of the Auditor is to consider the Treasurer's Annual Financial and Membership Reports and to review the financial state of the Association, in preparation for the Business Meeting.
  1. The Accounting Period is one calendar year. Balancing of accounts will be done every year.
  1. There shall be a Nominating Committee consisting of the two most recent Past Presidents not on the Executive Committee, each serving for the four years following their own Presidency. The member whose term is about to expire shall chair the Committee. In case of a vacancy the Executive Committee shall appoint a member to serve for the appropriate period.

  2. Nominations shall be conducted as follows: the Nominating Committee shall nominate (normally two) people who are willing to serve in each position to be filled at an election at the Business Meeting. When selecting the candidates the Nominating Committee shall also consider the balanced representation of genders and nationalities. [10]

    The Secretary shall announce these nominees to the Membership, post their names on the Association web site, and invite the Regular Membership to submit additional nominations. Additional nominations will be accepted by email, provided that two Regular Members of the Association second each such nomination and provided that evidence is presented that such a nominee will serve if elected.

    The nomination has to be completed so that it can be included in the call for the Business Meeting.

VI. Amendments

  1. Amendments to the Constitution shall be made in a Business Meeting with two-thirds majority of voters based on a proposition made by the Executive Committee or a group of no less than ten Regular Members. The proposition must be included in the announcement of that meeting.
  1. The Dissolution of the Association requires a two-thirds majority of voters in a Business Meeting. If the Association will be dissolved, possible funds and property of the Association will be used in a way consistent with the Purposes of the Association as decided by the meeting dissolving the Association.
  1. Items not covered in the present constitution of the Association will be regulated by laws on free associations of Finland. If the present Constitution of the Association is inconsistent with the Finnish legislation, the latter will take precedence.

Comments and Notes (not part of the constitution)

Footnotes

[1] See discussion about the various definitions of the term North Europe on a separate page for bacground material.
[2] It has not been decided yet where the Association will be registered (if a formal registration is made). Sweden is equally possible as Finland. In Finland a registered association is more independent but on the other hand, some translation and a bit more bureaucracy is needed. If the domicile of the association is e.g. Sweden, replace 'Finland' with 'Sweden' in relevant paragraphs.
[3] If the association is registered in Finland, official documents passed to the authorities have to be in Swedish or in Finnish. Thus, some translation would be necessary.
[4] See discussion about the various definitions of the term North-West Russia at a separate page for background materials
[5] There is also a term physical person which is used to distinguish individual persons from legal persons such as associations, commercial companies etc. Is individual sufficient to make this distinction?
[6] At least the Finnish legislation makes a difference between voting in elections (to elect individuals, in Finnish "vaali") and voting in decisions concerning what to do (in Finnish "äänestys"). They are different when two alternatives get an equal number of votes c.f. II.2. Both types can be either secret (with ballots) or open.
[7] In the Finnish practice the statutes have to say exactly which organ accomplishes this.
[8] There has been discussion on whether the Executive Committee should consist of five or six members. Both sizes would seem ok. Comments are most welcome.
[9] There has been discussion on the duration of the terms of the Executive Committee and the Nominating committee. This association is based on a two-year cycle because the natural occasions for having a Business Meeting (NODALIDA) is biannually. This makes the circulation of officers slower as compared to the ACL, and therefore changes have been made in order to compensate for the longer terms. Comments are most welcome.
[10] There has been discussion about the fair or equal representation of sexes in the Executive Committee and in other positions. It is probably not possible to constrain the freedom of the Business Meeting in its power to elect members of the EC. It is probably be ok to say that the Nominating Committee ought to consider the balance between the sexes in the nominations - but only as a recommendation. Furthermore, the areal representativeness has similar aspects. We wish to reach a reasonable balance, but we do not think that the Association should be built on representatives of groups or nations.