The following suggestion may sound a little laid back. However, I believe the institution of a council of elders serves a very basic need: Trust!
Trust is good
As a further control mechanism – apart from the general meeting – for the president and the management, a committee of few incorruptible world citizens could serve (“council of the elders”). In terms of the law of associations, this would be somewhat like a supervisory board. To remain agile, it should not comprise too many persons. The persons should be internationally recognized. The areas of success should be of different nature and require different competences to secure diversity. They could be philosophical, entrepreneurial, social, or political, for example. To ensure continuity and to keep the loss of know-how during the transition from one president to the next to a minimum, past presidents should be members of the Council of Elders for one further term of office according to the statutes. The other members of the Council of Elders would be elected via the internet during the general assembly.
Control is also good
In addition to an advisory function for the president and the management, the Council of Elders would have the right to dismiss the president by a simple majority if his or her actions endanger the survival of the planet, the non-discriminatory coexistence or other essential contents of the statutes objectively and demonstrably. The same applies if he or she is very likely to be held criminally responsible. This is not intended to go against the principle of “in dubio pro reo” it is necessary to safeguard the associaitions reputation. Until the next assembly, someone from the Council of Elders would then continue to manage the associations. To carry out this toughest of all interventions and to make abuse at least less likely, it would make sense to make it additionally subject to the approval of an independent arbitration board (see point 3.2 below).
Is a council of elders antiquated?
Ancient institutions – like the Council of Elders – often serve basic needs. These days we are all missing a comparable ethical instance. There are hundreds of expert commissions. One of them, the German Ethics Council, at least adresses interdisciplinary ethical question that arise with new technologies. However, it is being mandated, contracted. It is not a political or social institution. It misses the legitimization through elections. The council does not aim to impact the public opinion nor does it seek publicity. It remains to be an expert gremium with little effect in society.
Next week we will turn our eyes towords the mightiest of all instituions in the association: The general assembly.