Conference Design

Getting in Shape with UIA Round Table Europe

22nd November 2019

The UIA Round Tables are organized annually by the Union of International Associations, the Brussels-based research institute and documentation centre. They lie at the very core of UIA’s education project, and provide an opportunity to learn through networking and practice how to better run associations. UIA has been a pioneer in monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since its establishment in 1907.

The Round Table Europe was held on 4 November at Crowne Plaza Le Palace in Brussels (there’s also an Asia-Pacific one) and was attended by almost 200 participants from 30 countries, 80 per cent of whom came from European and international associations. Other attendees, sponsors of the day, came from venues and destinations, such as Thailand, Canada or Riga for instance and undertook some promotion activities for organizing congresses.

The morning kicked off with a speech by Cyril Ritchie, UIA President, who talked about ‘Association Values vs Realpolitik’. As ‘realpolitik’ refers to a politics based on practical objectives rather than ideals, it connotes a system of adaptation to things as they are, and suggests a pragmatic, no-nonsense view and a disregard for ethical considerations. Ritchie warned about associations walking a fine line there: as transparency, governance, dedication and openness to new ideas are at the core of the mission and vision associations set for themselves, they shouldn’t move away from their responsibility and always keep their higher purpose in mind: advancing the cause which they originally were founded for.

Innovative formats

In terms of format, UIA successfully tried to innovate this year: the day was organized in small workshops which participants could choose from. They were ten booths and 23 topics in total, ranging from ‘Tips and Tricks for Networking With Your Peers’, ‘EU Funding: Where to Start?’, a Masterclass to get familiar with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Companies and Belgium’s new Association Code or how to get in legal shape by 2020 (and more!).

This last one was actually particularly appreciated and focus especially of the shaping of international associations to the new legal regulations. If you work as an association director (=read board member or Secretary General) there are some aspects to take into account in order to protect yourself against liability procedures. The workshop included very practical tips such as how to voice possible concerns during board meetings, and the necessity – or not – to take a liability insurance for directors (which did not exist until recently) and to assess directors on a yearly basis during the General Assembly in order to discharge them eventually, proved to be quite popular among members of the audience.

Additional learning sessions were attended, such how to brand your name, what about the (vulnerability) of the financial position and should external funding, i.e. by non-members be considered.

The next Europe Round Table will take place on 12-13 November 2020 at Vienna House Diplomat Prague, in the Czech Republic.

Since 1907 the Union of International Associations (UIA) serves as an information clearinghouse and research institute which promotes the visibility of international organizations worldwide. In addition, the UIA offers associations a range of services and support. The UIA serves two main purposes: to maintain and provide comprehensive, up-to-date, and reliable information on international associations, their activities and concerns, and their meetings activities; and to support and facilitate the work of international associations through training and networking opportunities.

This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Remi Deve. The right to use it, in parts or fully, has to be granted by the Publisher.

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