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News and Updates: General SETAC News

Review Proposed Revisions to the SETAC Constitution

Monday, April 22, 2019  
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The SETAC constitution and associated bylaws are the guiding documents for SETAC. They provide a stable basis for how we operate and outline the objectives of the organization. Changing them is not an easy thing to do, deliberately so, but from time to time, changes are necessary.

Addressing Minor Typographical Errors and Organizational Changes

Sometimes, the reluctance of an organization to update the constitution leads to ways of operating that are not strictly defined in it, or in the current case, we have been finding ways to deal with things that are not addressed in the constitution. Inevitably, there comes a time when the reality of how things are being done needs to be incorporated into the constitution.

Creating an Operational Management Oversight Group

The current constitution defines the SETAC World Council (SWC) as the governing body of the Society at the global level. It further provides descriptions of the roles of the officers – the president, immediate past president, vice President and treasurer – and the global executive director (GED), under Articles IV and V. However, those descriptions are rather minimal and don’t provide a clear definition of the differences between the operational responsibilities of the SWC, officers and GED. The bylaws similarly provide only minimal descriptions of the responsibilities of these positions.

The SWC is our peak representative body and functions very well as the policy setting mechanism for the Society. However, as is desirable, it represents our global membership, and its current composition spans 18 hours of time zones. Council members meet monthly, with two face-to-face meetings a year during annual meetings, and they carefully consider all decisions. However, it is impractical for the SWC to make quick decisions about operational matters. It simply takes time to get the SWC together and for people to understand the topic and make a decision.

Therefore, many operational decisions need a nimbler management structure than the SWC is designed to be. To date, the GED and the officers have been managing these tasks but without clear definition of the levels at which they can approve expenditure individually or collectively and the authority they have to sign things on behalf of SETAC. It has worked so far, but it is a bit ad hoc, and without clear guidance, the officers and GED have not functioned as a coordinated management body. Our current GED is a part-time appointment, and the officers are volunteer positions, so this means that the uncertainty could readily lead to indecision. Not that it has done so with any regularity, but the underlying potential is there.

So, we are putting to the membership, after consideration by the SWC, officers and GED some updates and changes to the constitution.

Proposed Revisions

Changes are highlighted in yellow. Underline indicates addition, strike-through indicates deletion, italic indicates corrections.

View the original constitution.

Article III. Membership

9. Global Partner/ and Global Affiliate Members are for profit/ or not-for-profit organizations, institutions, foundations or associations concerned with and supportive of the affairs and purpose of the Society.

Article IV. Management and Elections

6. All members of SETAC may attend any governing body meeting, except Officers of SETAC Executive Committee sessions.

12. The Executive Committee will consist of the Officers (i.e., President, Vice-President, Immediate Past President and Treasurer) and the SETAC Executive Director.

Article V. Duties

3. The duties of the SWC shall be:

  1. To manage oversee the management of the business, functions, programs and activities of the Society;
  2. To develop short-and-long–term strategic plans, establish policy and take such
    action as seems desirable and appropriate to promote the mission and objectives of
    the Society;
  3. To approve new Geographic Units.

4. The duty of the Executive Committee, in addition to the duties of each individual member of the committee as already defined, shall be as delegated by the SWC and include overseeing the following:

  1. Implementation of the Society’s policies in an efficient manner;
  2. Execution of programs consistent with the Society’s priorities as laid down in the Society’s strategic plans; and
  3. Management of the affairs of the Society to the financial limits delegated by the SWC.

5. The duties of the SETAC Executive Director shall be determined by the SWC. and may include:

  1. Implementing the Society’s policies and procedures;
  2. Supporting SWC and the Executive Committee as the governance structure of the Society.
  3. Developing and managing programs that advance the Society’s mission based on the Society’s priorities as identified in the strategic plans;
  4. Serving as a spokesperson for the Society; and
  5. Managing the legal and financial affairs of the Society.

Article VI. Quorum

2. Actions by the Executive Committee are only undertaken when all four (4) voting representatives are included.

The SWC has endorsed these changes, but changing the constitution requires a majority of votes from the SETAC membership.

As a first step, the council invites you to review the proposed amendments and to send any comments to by 31 May.

After the review period, you will receive an email to cast your vote. If you have opted out of SETAC email notifications, please contact the office at, and we will send you the link to vote directly.

For questions, please contact us at