IAF Constitution and Bylaws
The IAF is a non-profit non-governmental organization set up in 1951 under French law. Its structure is laid out in the IAF Constitution, which defines the IAF as a federation of member organizations where decisions are made by a General Assembly.
Chapter I - Introductory regulations
Article 1 - Name
1.1 Name and logo
The name of this association is the International Astronautical Federation. The Federation is an international non-governmental non-profit organization. The International Astronautical Federation may use the acronym IAF and its trade mark and logo in all official communications.
The legal domicile of the Federation and its headquarters are located in Paris (France). In its activities, the Federation shall observe the French law on Associations of 1901.
1.3 Fiscal Year
The fiscal year shall be the calendar year.
Article 2 - Purposes
Recognizing that space activities provided and will continue to provide significant benefits to humanity; and Recognizing that there is a continuing need to foster and make apparent the benefits of such activities, the International Astronautical Federation founded in 1951 exists to: Foster space research, development and application of space activities for peaceful purposes and for the enlightenment, enrichment and challenges of all society, and strives to make apparent to societyat-large the enabling benefits of space activities to the quality of life. Towards these ends, the International Astronautical Federation, with membership drawn from national and international institutions, industry, service providers, academia and professional societies and other institutions related to space, aims to be recognized and sought out as the worldwide, independent organization which, in cooperation with other organizations, develops and disseminates information on and supports advances in space activities.
Specifically, the International Astronautical Federation shall:
- a. Establish, maintain and further develop a global network for the benefit of its members;
- b. Organise international astronautical congresses, symposia, workshops, training and educational programmes and other events;
- c. Assist its members to promote their space activities and products;
- d. Produce publications and position papers on space related matters;
- e. Cooperate and advise with appropriate international and national institutions, universities, commercial enterprises, service providers and individual experts on all aspects related to space activities;
- f. Use the various media to stimulate public interest in and support for the development of all aspects of space activities;
- g. Encourage, as appropriate, the development of entities related to space activities;
- h. Recognise individuals and IAF members for outstanding performance or achievements;
- i. Encourage the participation of students and young professionals in all activities of the Federation.
Article 3 - Organs
3.1 Executive Bodies
The executive bodies and organs of the International Astronautical Federation pursuant to this Constitution are:
- a. The General Assembly;
- b. The Officers;
- c. The Bureau;
- d. The Committees.
3.2 Powers of Representation
The IAF is legally and otherwise represented by the President, or by a Vice President. In accordance with their competences, the Officers shall have the exclusive authority to sign documents and letters on behalf of the Federation.
Chapter II – Membership
Article 4 - Admission
The International Astronautical Federation is an association of those organisations and institutions, duly established under national laws or international agreements, which share the purposes set forth in Article 2 and were elected in accordance with this Constitution.
4.2 Categories of members
The main categories of IAF members for the calculation of membership dues are the following:
- a. Space Agencies and Space Offices;
- b. Space Industry;
- c. Associations and Professional Societies;
- d. Research and Development Organisations;
- e. Universities and Space Museums; and such other categories that fulfil the purposes of the Federation and may be deemed from time to time eligible for membership by the General Assembly.
4.3 Election of new members
New members of the Federation shall be elected by the General Assembly at its plenary meeting. Membership shall take full effect in the fiscal year following election. Elected members of the Federation shall retain their full autonomy.
4.4 Rights and duties of membership
- a. A member of the Federation shall be entitled to participate in all its activities, to receive its services, to be represented at plenary meetings of the General Assembly, to present there its opinions and intervene in discussions; to take part in endeavours to reach decisions by agreement and to take decisions by voting, if a decision by general agreement could not be reached, on any matter concerning activities of the Federation.
- b. Members shall pay annual dues at the rates recommended from time to time by the Bureau and approved by the General Assembly. Payment shall be effected on receipt of invoice within the time limit laid down in the Bylaws.
- c. Only those members who are fully paid up shall exercise their voting rights (‘voting members’). Members whose dues are not fully paid up remain ‘non-voting members’ until such time as their dues are fully paid.
- a. An applicant for admission to the Federation shall submit to the Executive Director of the Federation two copies of its basic documents or other documentation of its qualifications for membership in accordance with this Article. The validity of such documentation shall be considered by the Bureau. b. The Bureau shall determine the applicant’s eligibility for membership and shall report its recommendation to the next plenary meeting of the General Assembly. c. Participation in the general activities of the Federation remains open to newly elected members until their Membership takes effect in terms of Article 4. 3.
4.6 Registration of signatures and amendments to basic documents
- a. Each member shall register the signatures of its officers with the Executive Director of the Federation.
- b. Whenever a member adopts substantive amendments to its basic documents, it shall immediately submit two copies of these documents as amended to the Executive Director of the Federation.
4.7 Continuing observance of membership conditions
Members are considered members in good standing in their continuing observance of the Constitution and Bylaws of the International Astronautical Federation at all times. Whenever the aims and activities of any member, or its internal membership, are at issue, such a member shall, at the request of the Bureau, provide evidence of its continuing observance of membership conditions. If such evidence is not considered satisfactory, the Bureau may recommend to the General Assembly a temporary suspension of the rights of such a member.
- a. Representatives of national as well as international organisations, societies, bodies and institutions interested in the development of space activities, which are not members of the Federation, may be invited to participate as observers in activities of the Federation.
- b. Invitations for observer status shall be extended by the Bureau of the Federation. If observers are invited to attend a plenary meeting of the General Assembly, their observer status shall be confirmed by the Assembly at the beginning of the meeting.
- c. Upon the recommendation of the Bureau, the General Assembly may grant a permanent observer status to such organisations or other bodies whose cooperation will be considered as substantive for the development of space activities and the Federation.
Article 5 – Termination of membership
- a. Upon the recommendation of the Bureau the General Assembly at its plenary meeting may decide on the termination of membership of any member when a serious reason requires such an action.
- b. The Bureau shall make such recommendation if a member has not paid its dues for more than two years or has otherwise grossly failed to conform to the provisions of this Constitution.
- c. In any case, the rights of the member will be suspended by the Bureau until the decision of the General Assembly is taken. The Executive Director of the Federation shall notify the member concerned of the General Assembly’s decision.
5.2 Withdrawal from membership
- a. All members of the Federation shall have the right of withdrawal from the Federation.
- b. Any member may do so by a letter submitted to the Executive Director of the Federation in due time before the plenary meeting of the General Assembly, which will take note of it. However, any withdrawing member shall remain obliged to remit all its dues covering the period to the end of the year of its withdrawal.
5.3 Changes in category of members
Upon the recommendation of the Bureau, the General Assembly at its plenary meeting may decide the appropriate change in the membership category, as referred to in Article 4.2., of any member.
Chapter III – General Assembly
Article 6 – Composition
6.1 Member delegates
The supreme governing body of the Federation shall be the General Assembly. It shall be composed of delegates for each member of the Federation.
6.2 Powers and functions The General Assembly shall have the following powers and functions:
- a. To examine and approve the credentials of the delegates.
- b. To approve and modify the Agenda of its plenary meetings proposed by the Bureau.
- c. To elect the new members of the Federation.
- d. To suspend temporarily the rights of members as provided in Articles 4.7 and 5.1(c), to terminate membership as provided in Article 5.1.a, to take note of the withdrawal from membership as provided in Article 5.2, and to decide the changes of category of members according to Article 5.3.
- e. To approve the annual and special reports, statements, accounts, estimates of the budget and the disbursement of funds by the Bureau.
- f. To decide upon the organization of events of the Federation, particularly the International Astronautical Congresses.
- g. To appoint committees necessary for the performance of its functions.
- h. To elect the officers of the Federation at its plenary meeting.
- i. To adopt guidelines prepared by the Bureau according to which the Federation may encourage, as appropriate, the establishment and development of entities related to space activities.
- j. To adopt guidelines prepared by the Bureau according to which the Federation should cooperate with national and international organizations in the field of space activities and the peaceful uses of outer space.
- k. To adopt such rules and regulations prepared by the Bureau as may be necessary.
- l. To exercise such other powers and functions as may be necessary or proper to carry out the purposes of the Federation.
6.3 Plenary meetings
The General Assembly shall hold its plenary meetings annually or, if recommended by the Bureau and with the consent of a majority of members, as provided in this present Article, less frequently. At each plenary meeting the General Assembly shall determine the place and time of its next plenary meeting.
6.4 Quorum and decisions
- a. A quorum to enable the General Assembly to be in session and to take such decisions either by agreement or by voting shall consist of one third of all members of the Federation. If such quorum could not be reached, the General Assembly would start its meeting thirty minutes later under the presence of any number of members.
- b. The General Assembly shall first endeavour to take decisions on any matter concerning activities of the Federation by general agreement of all members present at the plenary meeting.
- c. Unless otherwise specified in this Constitution, a majority of the members present at the Plenary meeting of the General Assembly shall be required to pass any action of this organ on which general agreement could not be reached.
- d. Decisions taken by the General Assembly, either by general agreement or by voting, shall be binding on all members.
6.5 Voting by proxy
If the delegate of a member of the Federation is not present, its vote in the General Assembly may be cast by a proxy signed by the President or other duly authorised officer of this member according to the procedure stipulated in the Bylaws.
6.6 Voting by mail
If necessary, whenever the Bureau so determines, or the General Assembly so decides in advance, voting may take place by mail, to include electronic mail. In this case a ballot shall be sent by the Executive Director of the Federation to all members. Such ballots shall be a full and clear statement in writing of the matters to be voted on. The replies of at least one-third of the members shall be necessary and a majority of affirmative votes of those replying shall be required to pass any action thus voted upon. The results of a mail voting as stated by the President of the Federation shall be reported to all members as soon as possible after the voting takes place.
Article 7 - Committees
7.1. Appointment and Activities
The Committees appointed by the General Assembly in accordance with Article 6.2.g. of this Constitution shall be mandated with such powers and responsibilities as the General Assembly deems advisable. They shall at all times act within their general terms of reference and in the best interests of the Federation. The provisions of Article 11.3.j remain unaffected.
7.2. Terms of Reference and Reporting
The terms of reference for the Committees and details of the procedure by which Committees shall report back to the General Assembly shall be contained in the Bylaws to the Constitution.
Article 8 - Categories of Officers
8.1 Elective Officers and Appointive Officers
The Federation shall have Elective Officers and Appointive Officers. a. Elective Officers shall be the President and the twelve Vice-Presidents. b. Appointive Officers shall be the Executive Director, the General Counsel and the Honorary Secretary.
8.2 Eligibility, election and term of elective officers
- a. Elective Officers of the Federation shall be representatives of a member of this Federation. In the election of officers, due regard shall be especially paid to candidates of members from those nations or international organisations which have reached a high degree of development in space activities, and to the necessity of equitable geographical distribution.
- b. The General Assembly shall elect the Officers at its plenary meeting. The terms of Officers shall be three years or, if the next plenary meeting of the General Assembly be postponed according to Article 6.3, until their successors are elected. Elective Officers shall not be eligible to serve for a consecutive term and no Elective Officer shall serve the Federation for more than two nonconsecutive terms of the same office.
- c. The General Assembly may approve amendments to the period of office for elective Officers prescribed by Article 8.2.b in accordance with the general provisions of Article 6.4.
Article 9 - Office of President
9.1 The President
- a. The President shall be the chief executive officer of the Federation. He or she may serve in this office according to the provisions of Article 8.2.b for a maximum period of two non-consecutive terms.
- b. The President shall represent the Federation in all public ceremonies or events in which it participates. When the President cannot participate on such occasions, he or she shall authorize a Vice-President or a representative of a member of the Federation to represent the Federation. The President shall approve all public statements issued on behalf of the Federation.
- c. The President shall preside at the plenary meetings of the General Assembly. When the President cannot preside, one of the Vice-Presidents designated by him or her or, if none is designated, one of the Vice-Presidents selected by the General Assembly or a delegate of any member represented at the meeting of the General Assembly elected for this function by the General Assembly shall preside. The President or his deputy in this function shall not act in the General Assembly as a delegate of any member and shall vote, with the exception of electoral proceedings, only in case of a tie.
- d. The President shall preside at all meetings of the Bureau and report on its conclusions and recommendations to the General Assembly. When the President cannot preside at a Bureau meeting, he or she shall authorize a voting member of the Bureau to exercise the powers and to discharge the responsibilities of the President with respect to the meeting. If the President does not give such authorization, the voting members of the Bureau present at such meeting shall elect one of such members to exercise the powers and to discharge the responsibilities of the President with respect to the meeting.
9.2 Vice Presidents
- a. The Vice-Presidents shall be responsible to the President and according to Article 9.1.b of the Constitution shall deputize for him or her.
- b. At least four Vice-Presidents shall be replaced at each election to enable an adequate rotation of the Elective Officers of the Bureau. The provisions of Article 8.2.b shall apply accordingly.
- c. The President of the Federation shall assign to the Vice-Presidents their tasks in accordance with the needs of the Federation.
- d. One of the Vice-Presidents, as designated by the Bureau, shall be in charge of financial matters of the Federation. He or she shall be chairperson of the Finance Committee of the Federation, which is appointed by the General Assembly under Article 6.2 (g).
- e. Vice-Presidents shall attend the issues assigned by the President and shall present the corresponding writen report to him.
9.3 Successor in Office of President
- a. The incumbent President elected by the General Assembly according to the provisions of this Constitution shall become a non-voting member of the Bureau and President-elect for the period of one year prior to assuming office as president, or, where the provisions of Article 6.3. apply, until the successor is elected.
- b. The last-retiring President shall become a non-voting member of the Bureau on relinquishing this office and act in an advisory capacity only. The term of office shall be one year.
Article 10 - Appointive Officers of the Federation
The appointive Officers of the Federation, shall in accordance with Article 8.1.b above, be as follows:
10.1 Executive Director of the Federation
The Executive Director of the Federation shall act as secretary to the Bureau and the General Assembly and shall perform such duties as are assigned to him or her in a formal description prepared by the Bureau. He or she shall be appointed by the Bureau and approved by the General Assembly and shall serve until he or she resigns or is replaced.
10.2 General Counsel
- a. The General Counsel of the Federation shall be appointed by the Bureau and approved by the General Assembly and shall serve until he or she resigns or is replaced. When requested he or she shall furnish legal advice on all problems requiring such consideration.
- b. Amendments to the Constitution, guidelines, rules and regulations which are to be adopted for the achievement of the Federation purposes shall be reviewed by the General Counsel prior to their submission for approval by the General Assembly.
- c. Upon a request of the General Counsel, he or she may be assisted by a recognised lawyer or lawyers appointed by the President.
10.3 Honorary Secretary
The Honorary Secretary shall accept all legal processes and certify all official documents and shall discharge such statutory duties as may be required by French law. He or she shall be appointed by the Bureau and approved by the General Assembly and shall serve until he or she resigns or is replaced.
Article 11 - The Bureau
- a. The Bureau consists of the Elective Officers of the Federation as voting members.
- b. The last-retired President of the Federation, the President-Elect, both serving the Federation in terms of Article 9.3, the Presidents of the International Academy of Astronautics and the International Institute of Space Law, the Executive Director, the General Counsel and the Honorary Secretary of the Federation serving the Federation in terms of Article 10, shall be non-voting members of the Bureau.
- c. If necessary, chairmen of committees or their representatives appointed according to Article 6.2.g. and 11.3.j. may be invited to participate and report in the relevant meetings of the Bureau when questions relating to their activities will be considered, without the right to vote.
- d. The President may invite distinguished persons or representatives of members to assist the Bureau meetings without the right to vote.
11.2 Meetings and Quorum
- a. The Bureau shall meet at such times and places as are duly determined by a majority thereof. The meetings of the Bureau shall be convened by the President.
- b. Rules of procedure shall determine the business of the Bureau. The presence at a meeting or written answers of seven voting members of the Bureau shall constitute a quorum.
- c. Decisions on procedural questions shall be taken by a majority of its voting members present at the meeting. Decisions other than procedural questions shall be taken with unanimity of all members of the Bureau present at the meeting. In the event of a tie, the vote of the President shall be conclusive.
11.3 Duties of Bureau
The Bureau shall:
- a. Receive applications for admission and determine the applicant's eligibility for membership and report its recommendation to the next plenary meeting of the General Assembly.
- b. Invite applicants for membership before their election to the plenary meetings of the General Assembly as observers. Subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, the Bureau may also invite as observers to the plenary meetings of the General Assembly non-member organizations and bodies, which have a deep interest in the development of space activities.
- c. Require a proof of declared space related character and internal membership of any member whenever it is at issue, and in case of a negative result, recommend to the General Assembly a temporary suspension of rights of such member.
- d. Recommend to the General Assembly for consideration the termination of membership of any member under the conditions set forth in Article 5.1. a. of this Constitution and the change in the category of members according to Article 5.3. of this Constitution.
- e. Recommend and supervise the arrangements for the plenary meetings of the General Assembly and, in cooperation with the entities mentioned in Article 2.2(e) and 6.2(j), for congresses, symposia and other such meetings of the Federation and to take all necessary steps for this purpose.
- f. Prepare and submit an agenda of the matters to be considered at the plenary meetings of the General Assembly. All matters, which are to be decided by the General Assembly, shall be considered in advance by the Bureau.
- g. Supervise the preparation of the accounts and the disbursement of funds, recommend an annual budget and present all pertinent information in the form of an annual report to the General Assembly.
- h. Make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning annual contributions of each member of the Federation.
- i. Accept on behalf of the Federation private donations or contributions from national or international organizations or from governments.
- j. Appoint interim committees to discharge tasks arising since the last plenary meeting of the General Assembly.
- k. Take appropriate measures for developing the cooperation of the Federation with national and international organizations, societies, bodies and institutions in the field of space activities and the peaceful uses of outer space, on the basis of guidelines established by the General Assembly.
Chapter V – Elections
Article 12 - Nomination Committee
- a. The General Assembly on a proposal by the Bureau shall appoint a Nomination Committee which shall be responsible for the elaboration of recommendations concerning the election of Officers whose terms of office are to begin following the next General Assembly. The Bureau may take advice from members on suitable candidates that would achieve the regional balance among the members of the Nomination Committee.
- b. The Nomination Committee shall be composed of five members who are not members of the Bureau, are in good standing and do not have any conflict of interest. Further criteria for membership of the Nominations Committee shall be contained in the Bylaws.
Nominees for the positions of Elective Officer shall be a representative of a Member in good standing, shall fulfil the criteria for eligibility for office and shall confirm that they accept nomination. Nominees may only be recommended for one open position. The number of nominees per office is unlimited.
12.3 Nomination Committee report
The Nomination Committee shall review the applications for office according to the term applicable to that office under Article 8.2.b, shall review the candidatures and interview each candidate between the two sessions of the General Assembly. It shall thereafter notify the Bureau of its recommendations for the position of President and positions of Vice President, as the terms of individual office so require and the positions become vacant. The Bureau shall thereafter inform the General Assembly of the list of qualifying candidates drawn up by the Nomination Committee for recommendation to the General Assembly. Where the Bureau does not agree with the Nomination Committee recommendations, it may inform the General Assembly of its own recommendations only after the Nomination Committee has presented its recommendations to the General Assembly.
12.4 Hearing in General Assembly
The General Assembly shall seek consensus on the qualifying nominations proposed by the Nomination Committee and, where applicable, by the Bureau. Where no consensus is reached, the General Assembly shall adopt a list that may include additional candidate(s) to those proposed in the above manner. The admissibility of additional nominees shall be decided by the General Assembly in accordance with the call for office and conform to this Constitution.
In so far as consensus has not been reached on the nomination list adopted by the General Assembly, the election of Officers shall take place by written ballot. For each position, the candidate with the most votes shall be elected. In the case of a tie, a re-election between the persons concerned shall be conducted, the details of which shall be established in the Bylaws. The provisions of Article 6.4.c shall apply accordingly.
Chapter VI – Dissolution
Article 13 - General
13.1 Approval by General Assembly
The Federation may be dissolved with the approval of two thirds of its members. Any assets remaining after the discharge of all obligations shall be offered and transferred to an international institution having objectives similar to the purposes set forth in Article 2 of this Constitution. If this transfer to such an institution cannot be accomplished, it should be made to any international institution devoted to research as may be designated by the Bureau.
The Bureau shall be responsible for the winding-up of the affairs of the Federation.
Chapter VII – Bylaws, Standing Rules
Article 14 - Bylaws
The business of the Federation shall be conducted in accordance with the Constitution and the Bylaws of the Federation. The Bylaws shall be adopted on the recommendation of the Bureau by the General Assembly. In the event of any conflict between the Bylaws and the Constitution, the Constitution shall prevail.
14.2. Rules of Procedure
The Bylaws shall contain integrated Rules of Procedure governing the proceedings of the organs of the Association (General Assembly, the Bureau, and Committees) in accordance with Article 6.4. of this Constitution
14.3 Amendment to Bylaws
The Bylaws may be amended in accordance with Article 6.4. of this Constitution.
Chapter VIII – Amendments
Article 15 - Approval by General Assembly
- a. Amendments to this Constitution shall be with the approval of two thirds of the members. All amendments shall, unless otherwise provided therein, take effect immediately upon such approval.
- b. Notice of any proposed amendments shall be communicated to all members of the Federation by the Executive Director, at least three months in advance of the date fixed for the vote on such amendments. The use of electronic mail with receipt shall constitute sufficient notification for the purposes of this provision.
Chapter IX – Official Language
Article 16 - Language for communication
English shall be the official working language of the Federation. French shall be used in official communications with the public authorities.