Motions and Recommendations 2016

1. Introduction

2. Motions

3. Recommendations

4. Some points on motions and recommendations

5. How to put together a motion?

6. A well-crafted motion contains the following

7. What happens next?

8. Life of a Motion

9. Checklist, Submission form, and examples of Motions

10. The OCB Motions Committee

11. Who can vote at the FADs?

12. Presenting motions at the OCB Gathering

13. Motions are not the "law"

14. OCB 2015 Gathering Motions Session

15. And then? Feedback!


At the end of the FAD debates the members can chose to write motions and/or recommendations.  If the motion – or recommendation – is approved by the FAD they will be sent to the OCB motion committee for possible inclusion in the OCB Gathering.  A motion that gains the additional support by being passed by the OCB Gathering can in turn be sent to the International General Assembly (IGA) if it has a movement-wide scope.  Please note that a motion cannot go directly from the field to the IGA without being approved at a national/ regional/ OC General Assembly. So what is the difference between a motion and a recommendation? And remember, all debates does not need to end with a motion or a recommendation!


Motions should be used to push issues you strongly believe in at level of the mission, your association and the movement.  A motions should address the associative and is about the fundamentals of the movement, its identity, aspirations, responsibilities, principles and its mandate.  If a motion adopted by the members at the Gathering it is then followed up by the OCB Board and the Executive.

Motions are a useful tool to provoke changes in MSF and/or put an issue on the agenda of the association as a whole. This is why motions should have a ‘wide’ scope: meaning they should not be limited to one country of operations but be applicable to several contexts, deal with MSF's long-term orientations and/or propose something ‘new’ – a different approach, a new strategy, a fresh ‘impetus’ etc. 


Recommendations on the other hand are meant for the Executive and are suggestions for structural, operational or management policies that are the responsibility of and implemented by the Executive. They can be specific to a particular project, mission or OC effort. The recommendations are not voted on at the OCB Gathering, but instead are the responsibility of the HoMs to ensure that they are considered and responded to directly in the field or submitted to the correct HQ departments.

Some bullet points on motions and recommendations:

  • All debates do not have to end with a motion or recommendation! The writing of a motion should only be considered if it brings a new spirit to the associative like new ideas that could make things move.
  • To avoid wasting time: motions that have already been approved by a previous GAs/OCB Gathering, or that refer to policies that have already been accepted and/or applied should not be written, unless you wish to re-emphasize a motion you feel have not been implemented.  A list of past motions can be found here.
  • Avoid writing motions you are not ready to defend at the OCB Gathering. For each selected motion the FAD representative and/or the Head of Mission from the corresponding mission will be invited to come and defend the motion in person at the OCB Gathering. 

How to put together a motion?

  • If you have a proposal to make and think it qualifies to become a motion, try and gather support of other members/MSFers around your proposal. You do not need to wait for the FADs to rally people around your idea.
  • Refer to the motions checklist to make sure that what you are proposing meets the ‘requirements’ to be considered as a motion. For example, does your proposal speak to MSF’s identity, principles or responsibilities to our patients? Does it apply to other contexts beyond yours? Have you checked that there is not yet a policy in place on the same topic? Is it proposing something new?  Etc. 
  • Use the examples of previous motions to help you word and present your motion. 
  • You can get the help of Board Members visiting your FAD (‘FAD Associates) if you are drafting your motion during a FAD and feel that you need guidance.

A well-crafted motion contains the following:

•    A title that clearly indicates what is the subject and to whom the motion is directed
•    A short background / argument in favor of  the change asked for
•    A request, i.e. the text that the assembly will vote on (the shorter and the more concise it is, the bigger the chance that it will pass) 

What happens next?

If it is determined that the motion should be addressed by the members at the OCB Gathering it will be submitted to the motions committee. All motions should be submitted to the OCB Motions Committee (send to Rebecca, Carole, or Monica) as soon as your FAD has finished, to allow for the Committee have enough time to prepare, assembly, organize, select, and verify the wording of the motions.  Motions can also be submitted through the partner sections of the OCB, or through discussions at the Head of Mission week.

A motion that gains additional support by being passed at the General Assembly of a national/regional association or OC gathering may be presented to the International General Assembly if it has a movement-wide scope.

FAD Process - click on the image to make it bigger

Life of a Motion

Life of a motion from Inside Ocb on Vimeo.

Checklist, Submission form, and examples of Motions

Before submitting a motion, take a look at the Motions Checklist, the Motions Submission Form, and examples of Motions

The OCB Motions Committee

The Motions Committee is made up of members from the OCB Board, and works on the substance (critical analysis and synthesis, overlapping content, repetitions from previous years, separating motions from recommendations etc.) as well as the form (clear and comprehensive, presentation and translation) of the motions submitted.  It recommends a limited number of motions to the OCB Board which has the responsibility for the final selection.

The Motions Committee will not be able to take into account a badly worded motion or one that is not accompanied by explanations. Therefore we strongly insist that you provide a short text for each motion explaining the context, and of other pertinent information, of the motion. 

Due to practical constraints only a reasonable number of motions will be presented at the Gathering.  The Motions Committee will be looking for motions intended to nurture the associative reflections in the field, to involve the field members in MSF, and to facilitate the expression of conflicting and challenging opinions about the way MSF functions.  Motions with similar aim from different missions will be summarized and merged into one proposal. 

Who can vote at the FAD?

All participants, whether a member of OCB or not, can vote when motions are approved at the FAD.

Presenting motions at the OCB Gathering

For each selected motion, the Head of Mission and the representative of the corresponding mission will be invited to publicly defend the motion at the GA/OCB Gathering. If neither of them wants to take responsibility for the motion, it will not be presented.  

Motions are not the “law”

Though the motions process is extremely important when it comes to influencing the movement and how we work, it is important to remember to that motions can sometimes not be implemented for a number of reasons.  By submitting a motion that is accepted to the Gathering you guarantee that the issue is debated and that there will be feedback on why or why not a motion was implemented in the end.

OCB 2015 Gathering Motions Session

You can watch the motions session from the 2015 OCB Gathering to get some tips. 

And then? Feedback!

If your motion can be addressed in the field, it will be the responsibility of the mission – including staff in the field – to follow-up on it. 

If your motion goes to other associative levels, you will receive feedback at the different stages of the process: following the decision of the Motions Committee(s), after the General Assembly/OCB Gathering if your motion is presented to the membership for a vote, and following the International General Assembly if it is accepted for debate. 

By: Rebecca Cederholm