General Assembly Structure
The General Assembly is at the heart of the movement and has the power to make decisions concerning:
- The representation of Operation Kindness as a whole (declarations, principles, visions)
- Overall strategy and campaign planning
- Financial decisions related to Operation Kindness as a whole
The General Assembly membership consists of:
- Two country representatives from each of the Operation Kindness National Committees
- Two representatives from each specific working group
- Two representatives from each specific caucus
- Working groups are groups that are contributing to the logistical and financial operations of Operation Kindness on a consistent basis.
- Caucuses are self-determining groups of people that share a common experience of being systemically marginalized in society at large. This marginalization may be based on, but not limited to, their real or perceived race, gender identity, sexuality, age, or ability.
The General assembly structure will adopt a ‘Spokes Council’ approach to direct democratic decision making based on the notion that sustainability for large networks depends on this less bureaucratic and more collectivist system. A spokes council is a structure that has been used widely by democratic movements since the Spanish Revolution and draws inspiration from many indigenous struggles, such as the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico. It was used effectively and for many years in the Women’s Movement, the Anti-Nuclear Movement, the Global Justice Movement, and more recently in the Occupy Movement.
In the Operation Kindness structure two people sit in the Spokes Council (Operation Kindness General Assembly) and are backed by their country group, working group or caucus. These two people do not make decisions on behalf of the group – they are there to represent the consensus view and speak for their group. The two members will only cast one vote in decision making as they will both be representing the same consensus of their group. At times, they will need to confer with their group and then to reflect the ‘collective sentiment’ of the group back to the General Assembly. This process aims to ensure a participatory, democratic process, demonstrating true equality among members and avoiding hierarchy formation.
Principles of Solidarity
We come together as individuals, communities and grass roots campaigns to form an international activist/solidarity network. Our purpose is to imagine, articulate, implement and actualise alternatives to neoliberal globalisation based upon kindness, altruism and love, which deliver:
- Environmental sustainability
- Equality of access to resources and opportunities
- Restorative and redistributive justice
- Universal access to legal rights
- Genuine participatory democracy
We choose kindness and love as a frame of reference within which a visionary set of transformations will occur, resulting in principled and non-violent revolutionary social change.
International Committee of Representatives
The General Assembly will elect from within its membership (on an annual basis, also to avoid hierarchy formation) an international committee of representatives of no more than fifteen members. This central committee is elected to ensure effective coordination and delivery of the agreed objectives of the General Assembly. The purpose of this committee is one of representation, not leadership, and as such is accountable to the General Assembly at all times.
Operation Kindness National Movements and constituent local activist groups agree to align to the Principles of Solidarity listed previously whilst remaining autonomous and responsive to localized issues and campaigns. The national movements will also adopt a spokes council approach to democratic decision making as previously described. Each local activist group will select one member to represent them on a national committee. Each national committee will select two members to represent them on the general assembly (see previous general assembly section).
Layers of Operation Kindness Participatory Decision Making Process
Decisions will be made wherever possible through spokes council consensus. Failing consensus a quorum will be a two third majority of the General Assembly/International Committee of Representatives/National Committee/Local Activist Group.
Our structure ensures a ‘leaderless’ movement. Individuals will however ‘take a lead’ in different situations, on different projects, through mobilising and organising around different issues according to individual skills and knowledge. Leadership within the movement is expressed through service, solidarity and love and is always responding in support of the collective voice of the General Assembly.
In Operation Kindness, people will show leadership through facilitation, through the empowerment of those around them and in service of the Operation Kindness aims and objectives. The General Assembly must be actively conscious not to elevate individuals into positions of authority. Forms of domination are embodied in the hierarchical structures we ourselves have been conditioned within, and it is therefore important for the General assembly to self-consciously acknowledge how such unconscious conditioning could easily reproduce such norms and practices within our community and movement.
Umuntu ngu-umuntu ngobantu
‘I am because we are’