|Do you know what are the Intercountry Committees?|
|Written by Serge Gouteyron|
|Monday, 22 September 2008 20:11|
The Intercountry Committees (ICC) are the first RI Structured Program dedicated to the advancement of world peace.
France-Germany Intercountry Committee
The first ICC between Germany and France was created between the two World Wars, but was officially founded on 23 May 1950 in Strasbourg during the district 70 conference. The ICC was the brainchild of Robert Haussman and Roger Coutant and its purpose was to reestablish Rotary relations between the two countries, which were strained during the Nazi era.
That day, Robert Haussman stated that “Rotarians must be from now on at the forefront of the peace ideal.”
An international spirit
The year was 1950 and it was no coincidence. During the war and the years that followed, the need for strong intergovernmental institutions became acute.
We needed institutions able to protect the humanist values on which civilizations were built and to promote world understanding between the people of all nations.
In fact, the United Nations, UNESCO, and RI’s Intercountry Committees were created to answer this need.
France-Germany ICC’s first initiative was to foster sister clubs. Under Jean Caroni’s leadership, the Lille and Cologne clubs were the first to become sister clubs and this relationship is still very much active 56 years later.
French Rotarians and their European counterparts currently enjoy a vast network of sister clubs: 311 with Germany, 348 with the UK, 233 with Italy, 193 with Belgium, 83 with Spain, 48 with Portugal, etc.
Very quickly, the ICCs diversified their projects which coincided with the expansion to African and Middle-Eastern countries.
As a result, they became a factor in improving relationships between developed and developing countries.
This meant contributing to the advancement of mankind through education, culture, literacy, water management, health care as well as fighting hunger, poverty, and maternal and child mortality.
To some extent, it meant participating in humanitarian and educational programs that would naturally later be a foundation for the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.
In the past 20 years, following the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe, the ICCs have displayed their importance by leading the way in reintroducing those countries to Rotary.
Those new Rotarians were bursting with ideas and projects and they found in the ICCs an avenue to freedom.
Rotary International is yet to realize the impact the ICCs had on the organization’s expansion to Eastern and Central Europe, as soon as 1988 for Poland and 1995 for Russia.
Support from RI Presidents and Board of Directors
From the beginning, ICCs received a strong support from the Presidents of Rotary International: financial support and participation in the annual general assembly in Strasbourg (Percy Hodgson (USA) in 1950, Frank Spain (USA) in 1952, Nitish Laharry (India) in 1963, CPH Teenstra (Netherlands) in 1966, Richard Evans (USA) in 1967, Bill Carter (England) in 1974, and Jack Davis (Bermudas) in 1978).
RI Presidents Stanley McCaffrey (1982),Charles Keller (1988) and James Lacy (1999) continued to be supportive of the ICCs.
Later on, four other RI Presidents, Cliff Dochterman (1993), Frank Devlyn (2001), Jonathan Majiyagbe (2004), and Wilf Wilfkinson (2008) presided over international conferences on the role and activities of ICCs.
Conference about ICCs in Lille in March 2001 with Frank Devlyn
Moreover, the Council on legislation 2004 and the RI Board of Directors in their decisions of February 2003, November 2004, and June 2007 reaffirmed the grassroots interest in the program without going as far as making it a Structured Program due to its lack of worldwide presence.
In June 2007, the RI Board of Directors updated the rules that govern the intercountry committees.
We now have in Europe, in Africa, and in the Middle-East and more recently in the United States, but also in South America, in Asia, and in the South Pacific (to a smaller extent) 230 active intercountry committees that contribute with great flair to the influence of Rotary International.
We would like to express our gratitude to the Rotarians who have been involved at one point or the other in ICCs’ activities. Their humanist ambition and relentless motivation are very much appreciated.
Their role is vital when the threats peace faces are a growing and persistent concern.
The administrative structure of the ICCs is quite simple: the ICCs comply with the rules of Rotary International without being under its control.
An Executive Council comprised of all national coordinators and a board (a chairman, a vice-chairman, a secretary, and a treasurer with 3-year terms) oversees the ICCs.
Its purpose is to monitor and expand the program throughout the world and through the ideal of peace.
The Executive Council Chairman acts as Rotary International’s correspondent.
In each country (or district when a district covers several countries), a coordinator is in charge of monitoring and expanding the ICCs in his/her area.
A committee features two sections and each section must be approved by one of the country’s district governors and national coordinator. Each section elects a board with a 3-year term and convenes a general assembly in one of the two countries.
Each section determines the projects it will carry out. The decision is made in consultation with the other section.
The administrative costs of the ICC and the budget of the national coordinator are funded by the districts, clubs and Rotarians.
Two Rotary international conferences highlighted the activities of the intercountry committees. Both were held in France: the first on 25 October 2003 in Antibes Juan les Pins under the presidency of Jonathan Majiyagbe, and the second on 28-29 March 2008 in Cannes under the presidency of Wilfrid Wilkinson.
Both conferences were a success with 650 attendees in Antibes Juan les Pins and a thousand attendees representing 41 countries in Cannes.
Even if Rotary International and the intercountry committees have not been able to impose their ideal of peace that Cicero called “freedom in tranquility,” they both demonstrate that peace is possible, which was also the theme of the Cannes conference.
A cultural blueprint for peace
To conclude, intercountry committees like other programs such the Rotary Centers for international studies on peace and conflict resolution provide though their activities an ethical and cultural blueprint for the advancement of peace and mankind.
This is the reason why many Rotarians believe that if ICCs did not exist Rotary International should invent them!
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 22 February 2009 17:35 )|