Motions & Motions Committee

In the image: MSF Sweden and Norway members presenting a motion during the Joint GA 2017 in Stockholm

All members are invited and encouraged to write motions and recommendations to be discussed and debated during the Joint General Assembly. A motion presented at the joint Nordic GA can be directed to MSF Sweden, the OCB Gathering, or the International General Assembly, depending on whether it is an issue that pertains to the movement as a whole or not.  If the motion is intended for the IGA, there are some additional rules

  • The deadline for submissioin of motions is nine month prior to the IGA (normally held at the end of June each year). In very exceptional circumstances, the IB can grant an excemtion to the nine month deadline.
  • At least one month prior to the IGA, Insitutional Members (with motions that meet the critiera must inform the IGA Motions Committe of at least two other IMs that support their motion to the IGA. A total of at least three IMs must support a motion for if to go through to a vote at the IGA.
  • Motions are submitted to the IGA with a decleration of intent by the supporting IMs to support the IB with the follow up of the motion, if themotion is approved by the IGA. 

Motions addressing MSF Sweden alone will be dealt with during the national segment of the General Assembly, while issues addressing the greater movement will be handled during the joint motion session. With the exception of motions dealing with the statutes of the Association, motions may also be submitted after the deadline, but will only be added to the agenda for discussion and vote if 4/5th of the voting members agree. 

For 2020-21 MSF Sweden has a Motions Committee consisting of: Jon Gunnarsson Ruthman, Chair (MSF Sweden Board), Katrine Konar (MSF Sweden Board's Secretary); Kristina Skender (Asso Member), Torulf Jörnholm (Asso Member and representative from the Executive), and Ana Chaurio (Association Coordinator). You can be part of this Committee if you are an MSF Sweden member!

The Motions Committee urges all members to get in contact if you are interested in motions, want to write a motion, have written a motion and want feedback! 

Click on the topic that interests you:

What is a motion?

Motions should be used to push issues you strongly believe in at level of the missions, the association and/or the movement.  A motion should address the associative and is about the fundamentals of the movement, its identity, aspirations, responsibilities, principles and its mandate. If a motion is adopted by the members at General Assembly it is then followed-up by the Board who has a responsibility to report back to the members on the progress of the motion.

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.

Motions are also a tool to change the governance of the section, for instance changes to the statutes will be presented as a motion.

Do you want to change the fundamentals of the movement?

  • Motions are about the fundamentals of the movement: our medical- humanitarian identity, aspirations or responsibilities towards our patients. Motions provoke change and put issues on the MSF agenda. 
  • Motions are a request to the association, voted on the GA and their progress is monitored and reported through the year. 

Do you want to change the way we work? 

  • A recommendation is directed to any area of the executive: they are suggestions related to structural or operationals issues, or related to managament policies implemented by the executive. 
  • Recommendations are not voted on the GA but they are given to the executive and their progress is monitored and reported. 

Some bullets on motions

  • 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. (past MSF-Sweden Motions; past OCB Gathering Motions; past IGA motions - log in: msf; password: iga) 
  • Avoid writing motions you are not ready to defend.

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 General Assembly to rally people around your idea. You may want to recruit co-sponsors. 
  • 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?
  • Use the examples of previous motions to help you word and present your motion. Also, check that your proposal does not duplicate past motions or recommendations by checking the MSF Sweden Motions Update, all Motions voted on in OCB, and the International Motions Registry (username: msf / password: iga)
  • You can get the help of Board Members or the Association Coordinator if you have questions.

Who can present a motion?

You need to be a member of the Association to present a motion. You need to be a member of either MSF-Norway or MSF-Sweden to present motions at the joint Nordic General Assembly.

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?

Once a motion is submitted to the General Assembly it will be debate and voted on. If the motion passes the Board is responsible to follow up and report back on progress made. If the motion is meant for the OCB Gathering and/or the IGA it will also be submitted to those platforms. Due to the sheer volume of motions submitted to the international platforms, both the OCB Gathering and the IGA use Motion Committees to decide which motions will be brought to a vote by the members. They often combine motions of similar nature to cover as much ground as possible. You can read more here about the work of the OCB Motion Committee here.

Motions intended for the International Movement

As you may know, at the 2019 IGA, a few changes were made to the way motions can be brought to the International General Assembly (IGA). 

From now on:

  • motions must be submitted 9 months prior to the IGA to the international motions committee by an MSF Association;
  • the association submitting the motion must build support around it in the run up to the IGA, and be able to identify two supporting associations by one month before the IGA.

Why this change?

Since 2015, only motions that have gathered support from a critical mass of members by being approved at a General Assembly, can be presented at the IGA. However, the GA season extends over a rather short period of time and motions are presented to the IGA which takes place at the end of June of the same year, sometimes just two weeks after the last GA. As a consequence, there is little time before the IGA to check that motions presented to the motions committee meet the criteria; to work with motions authors on the final wording of their motions if necessary; to explore the possibility of merging some motions; and above all, to organise an in-depth discussion around international motions with all association members and staff. This also leaves little time to create real buy-in and ownership across all MSF Associations on international motions, which at times gets in the way of their follow-up and/or implementation within the movement.

Allowing more time for movement-wide motions to be discussed across MSF associations, to mature and gain support from a wider number of members can only contribute to a better quality of international motions, a more informed discussion at the IGA and a more robust follow-up.

What does it mean for General Assemblies?

Motions presented to General Assemblies may come from FADs, or from individual associative members (or groups of members) of that association. Again, this means a change of process for motions that, having an international scope, may go to the IGA. If approved at the GA, your motion can start being implemented/followed up on by your board and the motion’s authors.

If your motion has a movement-wide dimension, your board may want to bring it to the IGA of the following year. Concretely, your 2020 motion from FAD or as (an) individual member(s) will be presented at your 2020 GA but if passed, it may only be discussed at the 2021 IGA, after being shared with the international motions committee in September 2020. This will leave enough time for you and your association to further refine it, and to seek additional support by discussing it with other members from other MSF associations throughout the year, with a view to getting your motion supported by 2 additional associations so it is discussed at the IGA.

Life of a Motion

Life of a motion from Inside Ocb on Vimeo.

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 too that motions can sometimes not be implemented for a number of reasons.  By submitting a motion that is accepted to the General Assembly you guarantee that the issue is debated and that there will be feedback from the Board on why or why not a motion was implemented. Hold the Board accountable by asking questions!

And then: feedback!

If your motion is approved you will receive feedback at the different stages of the process: following the General Assembly through your Asso Newsletter, the Nordic Facebook page, InsideOCB and during following General Assemblies. 

By: Rebecca Cederholm