On account of its richness and diversity, the eighteenth century constitutes a privileged area of study for researchers in all countries and disciplines. Early on researchers realised the utility, or indeed the necessity, of discussing common themes, comparing analyses, and launching multinational projects.
Hence the creation, in 1967, of the SIEDS (Société Internationale d’Etude du Dix-Huitième Siècle) or ISECS (International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies), founded on the initiative of Theodore Besterman. A few years later, Besterman also founded the Voltaire Foundation, a British society tasked with publishing the works of Voltaire, under the aegis of the University of Oxford. As the SIEDS/ISECS does not have its own legal status, from the outset the Voltaire Foundation has held and managed the SIEDS/ISECS’s funds, and in legal matters acted on its behalf.
Over time, the Voltaire Foundation, having achieved its objective of publishing the entirety of Voltaire’s works, has naturally reduced its activities. The question now arises as to whether it will retain the capacity to manage the SIEDS/ISECS funds in the future, especially since the transfer of the most onerous tasks to the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) in 2017: the management and regular updating of the SIEDS website and electronic membership database (approximately 6000 members), and the organisation of the executive committee elections every four years.
In 2019 it was decided that the creation of a new supporting framework seemed appropriate. This body could not be the SIEDS/ISECS itself, as there is no legal status for international scholarly societies. When the Centre d’Etude de la Langue et des Littératures françaises (CELLF), UMR 8599 of the Faculté des Lettres de Sorbonne-Université and the CNRS (1 rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris) agreed to host the new Association, the status of a non-profit association under the French Law of 1901 was naturally considered a solution.
For this reason, the constituent national societies of the SIEDS/ISECS have proposed to establish, as a parallel legal entity in conformity with the French Law of 1901, an International Association for Eighteenth-Century Studies or IAECS (‘Association Internationale d’Etude du Dix-Huitième Siècle’ or AIEDS), whose role is to be the financial and legal arm of ISECS/SIEDS. This aim is the purpose of the present statutes.
An association is established between the National Societies for Eighteenth-Century Studies (henceforth the ‘National Societies’), having established the present statutes or having acceded to them, and members of the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (henceforth the ‘International Society’). It is an apolitical and non-profit association, governed by the French Law of 1 July 1901, and the Decree of 16 August 1901; and it is named the International Association for Eighteenth-Century Studies or IAECS (henceforth the ‘International Association’).
2.1 The International Association has its sole function to support and assist the International Society in its efforts to promote the growth, development and coordination of study and research relating to the eighteenth century, considered under all aspects of its cultural heritage (historical, philosophical, religious, linguistic, literary, scientific, artistic and judicial) in all countries without exception.
2.2 In particular, the International Association works to support the activities of the International Society:
i. to develop exchanges, contacts and meetings between eighteenth-century scholars from all countries; and
ii. to ensure the full recognition of the diversity of world cultures, within the context of a common commitment to the value of scholarly research and debate.
2.3 The International Association’s means of operation are mainly legal and financial. It aims:
i. to support the holding of international congresses and conferences open to all eighteenth-century scholars, even if the latter do not belong to any scholarly society;
ii. to help with the production of an electronic international directory of researchers whose field of study is the eighteenth century;
iii. to support the establishment and updating of a website to facilitate communication between eighteenth-century scholars;
iv. to assist in the elaboration and annual publication of an electronic journal;
v. to support any project considered as primary by the Executive Committee of the Association, whether or not it implies financial resources;
vi. to administer the funds of the International Society; and
vii. to report its accounts and proceedings annually to the International Society.
The International Association’s headquarters are located in Paris, at the Centre d’Etude de la Langue et des Littératures françaises (CELLF), UMR 8599 of the Faculté des Lettres de Sorbonne-Université and the CNRS, 1 rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris, but may be transferred to any other location, if so proposed by the International Association’s Executive Committee, in accordance with a decision taken by the International Association’s General Assembly.
The duration of the International Association is set at eight years, with this duration being renewable by agreement, unless otherwise decided by the International Association’s General Assembly in the year preceding the conclusion of the eight-year term.
The International Association is composed of founding members, full members, and honorary members.
5.1 Founding members are the constitutive National Societies, as well as all new National Societies, provided that they adhere to these statutes as sharing the International Association’s values and aims (as defined in article 2) and that their application for membership has been approved by the International Society’s General Assembly.
5.2 Full members, of which there are at least sixteen, are composed of eight elected officers (who constitute the International Association’s Executive Committee) and eight further members, as elected by the International Society every four years. Additional full members may be co-opted by the International Association’s Executive Committee for the duration of four years, provided that their co-option is approved by the International Association’s General Assembly.
Accordingly, the full members comprise eight elected officers, eight elected ordinary members, and a few co-opted members.
5.3 Honorary members are ex-Presidents and any others, chosen by a simple majority by the International Association’s Executive Committee, who have provided exceptional services to the International Association and/or to the International Society. They are appointed for a maximum term, to be decided by the International Association’s General Assembly.
The National Societies and the International Society, who are the founding members of the International Association, pool their knowledge and activities to achieve the objectives set by the International Association. They also contribute to its effective functioning through subscriptions paid at the time of their joining the International Association, collectively and individually, and through annual membership subscriptions. The amount of these subscriptions is set by the International Association’s Executive Committee, upon advice from the International Society.
The International Association is administered by an Executive Committee composed of between eight and ten full members, as referred to in Article 5.2, and appointed by the Association’s General Assembly. In the event of a vacancy in the period between two General Assemblies, the Executive Committee may appoint, if it considers it necessary, an interim replacement, to be approved by the next meeting of the International Association’s General Assembly.
Every four years, the International Association’s Executive Committee appoints, from among its members: a President, three Vice-Presidents, a Secretary General, a Deputy Secretary General, an Association Treasurer, a Treasurer of the International Society and a Deputy Treasurer.
The duties of the International Association’s Executive Committee members, as designated in Article 8 are not remunerated. A certain amount of money is fixed every year by the Executive Committee to cover running administrative costs.
The International Association’s Executive Committee meets on the invitation of its President and Secretary General as often as the International Association’s interests require and at least once a year. At least one third of the International Association’s Executive Committee members must be present for its deliberations to be valid. Its proceedings are recorded in minutes, which are recorded in a special register, to be signed by the International Association’s President and Secretary General.
The International Association’s Executive Committee is entitled to exercise all the powers that are not explicitly reserved for the International Association’s General Assembly. It recruits, when necessary, salaried assistance, within the limits of the budget provisions allocated for this purpose, and checks upon the integrity of all transactions, in the light of the International Association’s values and aims.
The International Association Committee’s Executive Officers are vested with the following duties respectively:
12.1 The President oversees the implementation of the Executive Committee’s decisions and the smooth functioning of the Society, which he or she represents in all legal and civil matters. In the event of illness or incapacity to act, he or she may be replaced by one of the Vice-Presidents.
12.2 The Vice-Presidents assist the President in exercising his or her duties and replace him or her in case of illness or incapacity to act, in the order established by the Executive Committee.
12.3 The Secretary General, assisted by the Deputy Secretary General, is responsible for the day-to-day management of the International Association, and notably for minute taking, correspondence, and keeping the register, as provided in Article 5 of the Law of 1901.
12.4 The Association Treasurer keeps the International Association’s accounts; tallies its revenue and expenditures; ensures that subscriptions are paid regularly; endorses incoming cheques and other funds and signs outgoing cheques, receipts and other items; controls the operation of the current account opened in the Society’s name; and presents an annual financial report to the International Association’s Executive Committee and then to the International Association’s General Assembly, on each completed financial year, as well as the budget projections for the year ahead.
The Association Treasurer’s signature appears alongside that of the President or the Secretary General on all documents involving financial obligations for the International Association.
The General Assembly of the International Association is composed of founding members, full members and honorary members (however, while honorary members may participate in the deliberations, they do not have the right to vote). Each full member has one vote in the General Assembly. Each founding member exercises his/her rights in the General Assembly, by designating a number of proxy delegates equal to that of their constituent and contributing members:
- One delegate if the National Society is composed of fewer than 750 members;
- Two delegates if there are between 750 and 1500 members;
- Three delegates if there are over 1500 members.
Voting by proxy is permitted in all debates and elections, on condition that the proxies are themselves members of the Society and present proof of their authorisation. No member is entitled to hold more than two proxies for all business at any one meeting.
The General Assembly of the International Association meets regularly, at least once a year, at the time, place and date when the International Society’s Executive Committee meets, as indicated in the convening notice. Furthermore, in exceptional circumstances, a special meeting can be called by the International Association’s Executive Committee. The convening notices are sent by individual letters or emails, containing the time/place and details of the agenda for the meeting. Every four years, after the outcome of the International Society’s elections, the International Society is tasked with communicating the names, affiliations and addresses of the sixteen members elected by the International Society and the two co-opted members, so that these elected members can convene a regular General Assembly to approve their designation.
The General Assembly of the International Association is chaired by the President or one of the two Vice-Presidents. The secretarial duties of the meeting are undertaken by the General Secretary or the Deputy General Secretary, supported by a meetings’ secretary, as designated by the General Assembly.
Decisions at the International Association’s Executive Committee and General Assembly are made by a majority of the votes cast, except in the case stipulated in Article 19. In the event of a tied vote, the President has the casting vote.
The annual General Assembly of the International Association receives a report from its Executive Committee on its management and all other matters, and approves this report. It also approves or amends the annual accounts for the previous year, ending on 31 December; votes on the budget for the following year; provides for the renewal of Executive Committee members, should need arise; and authorises all financial transactions undertaken by the International Association. The International Association’s General Assembly also have the right to put proposals on the agenda, provided that those proposals correspond with the International Association’s purpose and respect its values. The International Association’s General Assembly also has the duty of approving the International Association membership of any new founding members, i.e. any new National Societies, any new full members and honorary members.
A special General Assembly of the International Association can amend these Statutes in any way deemed useful, consistent with the Association’s aims and values. A quorum requires at least one quarter of the sitting members, whether present or represented. If this quorum is not reached, a second special General Assembly may be called after a period of at least fifteen days, but no more than forty days later. The International Association’s statutes can only be amended by a two thirds majority of those members, present or represented, who are entitled to vote.
In exceptional circumstances, a special International Association’s General Assembly can further decide upon the dissolution of the International Association or its merger with other organisation(s) with similar objectives. The quorum for such purposes is half the sitting members, plus one. If this quorum is not reached, a second special International Association’s General Assembly may be called after a period of at least fifteen days, but no more than forty days later. The proposal for a dissolution or merger can only be passed by a two thirds majority of the members, present or represented, who are entitled to vote.
The International Association General Assembly’s deliberations are to be recorded in minutes kept in a special register and signed by at least three of the Committee members. These minutes are required to record the number of members present or represented at the ordinary or special International Association General Assemblies, and to give the details of the votes. Copies or extracts from these minutes must also be signed by at least three of the International Association Executive Committee members.