The transition to a new leadership of the INF-FNI was completed at this year's INF-FNI World Congress held from 20 to 23 October 2022 in Luxembourg with Edwin Kilby replacing Jean Peters as Vice President, Secretary.
The points of most interest at the World Congress of the INF-FNI has for many years - if not always - been the voting for various positions. This was very much the case for this 2022 Congress which took place in Luxembourg from Thursday 20 to Saturday 23 October.
The first one of the old leadership to be replaced was Sieglinde Ivo, the President for many years, who at the previous World Congress in 2021 (postponed from 2020), was replaced by the new President Stephane Deschenes from Canada. An agreement reached at the WC202 meant that she remained on the CC as a co-president to ensure continuity, but it was clear at this year's meeting that she did not attempt in any way to go beyond this role. At the previous Congress, the old Vice President, Treasurer Rolf Beat Hostettler was also formally replaced by the current Vice President, Treasurer Dominique Dufour.
At this World Congress, the third member of the old EC, Vice President, Secretary Jean Peters' term in office was coming to an end. British Naturism had nominated Edwin Kilby for this position, but Jean Peters' federation, Luxembourg, nevertheless also nominated him for re-election.
The delegates elected Edwin Kilby with an overwhelming majority. With that, he transition to a new era of leadership of the INF-FNI has finally been completed.
The oldest member left on the old CC was now me, Gregers Moller, Naturist Association Thailand, who was appointed WW Assessor by the CC in 2017 and elected by the delegates in 2018 for a new four year term. I was not standing for re-election, but had secured a successor from Latin America, the Mexican president Gustavo de la Garza. There were no other candidates. Earlier in the Congress, the delegates had approved the proposal from Naturist Association Thailand to split the World Wide Assesor position in two, so there would be an Assessor for The Americas, and an Assessor for Africa and Asia Pacific - and then of course the unchanged position as Assessor for European Federations. This split was accepted on a two year trial basis to be evaluated in 2024.
The newly elected Gustavo de la Garza is naturally well suited for the Assessor for The Americas. For the other job, the delegates supported the suggestion of Christo Bothma, South Africa. Christo was suggested by Nicolas "Nick" de Corte who represented Australia with a proxy from South Africa. The CC accepted this proposal and announced Christo Bothma as the new Assessor for Africa and Asia Pacific.
Other elections were less complicated. The current Legal Councillors Herve Begeot and Leslie Rabuchin were both reelected and so were the current Cash Checkers/Auditors, Armand Ceolin and Henri Hermans.
The Congress was expected to be remembered for a bitter battle between the Italian FENAIT federation and the Liechtenstein federation LNV. FENAIT had built up a strong case against JP and SI for helping LNV - controlled by their former treasurer Rolf Hostettler - for helping LNV circumvent the statutes and sell INF stamps to UNI, a breakaway Italian naturist club. To make the matter more delicate, the president of UNI is Rosita Dal Soglio, who is also on the CC.
FENAITs motions demanded that the LNV was expelled as a member and demanded financial compensation from LNV and further asked the delegates to officially reprimand Sieglinde Ivo, Jean Peters and also Stephane Deschenes for complicity in the matter.
The whole case fell apart when Rolf Hostettler on the second morning of the Congress emailed Sieglinde Ivo and declared that LNV was dissolved and no longer existed. Most members were relieved that FENAIT accepted this as sufficient acknowledgement of their valid case and withdrew their motions.
From Naturist Association Thailand, two motions for changes to the statutes of the INF-FNI were discussed. One was a motion to change the wording of the vague paragraf that was used at the Congress in Portugal in 2018 to strip the New Zealand federation, NZNF of its voting right. Disraporn Yatprom, the NAT delegate, argued that if NATs proposal had been the wording then NZNF would not have been denied voting rights and would likely still be members. All the delegates voted overwhelmingly for this with an enthusiasm that was the closest you could get to an apology to the NZNF.
The other NAT proposal was aimed at reversing the trend over the past ten years where the federations together have been buying fewer and fewer stamps indicating a declining number of members. The proposal was to allow - on certain conditions - more organisatuons or associations in each country to become members and sell stamps. I argued that NAT's proposal was needed to stop the downward trend by increasing sales channels of the stamps. If it was feared that the new members might gather more voting rights than the old national clubs, then that would only confirm the need to break this national monopoly. But as a minimum, the old owners should at least allow extraordinary members the right to sell stamps and speak at the Congress.
The delegates would no doubt have voted this proposal down, but on a suggestion from Nicolas de Corte it was instead put into a special committee to work out acceptable proposals on how to reform the membership rules which were constantly being patched up as the federations battled for "ownership of their naturists". This working group would not be the same as the existing working group to propose complete new statutes.
New overhauled statutes
The work of the existing working group to propose a new set of statutes was explained by Edwin Kilby. Among the plan is to combine the statutes with the set of rules on how the INF-FNI operates. The most controversial of these proposals were presented by Edwin Kilby to allow the debate among the delegates to be an indication for the working group on how the federations would react to changes of the current rules. I am not sure the debate gave much input to the working group. The suggestion to reduce the number of languages to English only was put to an indicative vote by show of hands. This vote showed that a clear majority of the delegates could accept English as the only official language. But in the debate following this vote, the majority seemed to prefer keeping the three languages as they are, leaving the working group rather puzzled.
The new statutes will be completed by the working group and ready for adoption of the delegates by the Congress in 2024.
Vision Mission Strategy
INF-FNI has a track record of successfully completing tasks in working groups. This Congress unanimously approved a Vision-Mission Statement, which had been five years in the making with me in the role of CC member as a central figure. In its final phases, a small group of federations had shaped the input into a powerful document, which was presented by the Assessor for European Federations, Laurent Luft. It was modified with a tiny clarification that naturists should also be free to be naked without being in a social setting. The document can be downloaded here.
An important part of the statement is the third element, the strategy based on the vision and the vision. It defines the various actions which the delegates authorizes the leadership to take to achieve the newly defined goals. It is expected that these actionpoints will form the basis for a revision of the working plan established some eight years ago.
Trouble for small members
The Croatian delegate, Davorin Žugčić, had tabled three proposals all aimed at making it easier for the small federations to participate in the World Congress. The first one was asking for a full refund of the accommodation cost to participate in the Congress. Since the accommodation was picked by the CC, the small federations had no influence on that cost so they should have a full refund, it was argued.
Unfortunately, the delegates kept discussing transportation subsidies which the small federations can influence, for instance by taking a bus. Eventually, the delegates voted against the motion because it would increase the conference cost - still without understanding that it was not the transportation cost, that the Croatian federation asked to be refunded.
The other two Croatian motions about allowing small federations to submit their proposals and articles in only one of the official languages was accepted with the amendment that also for the larger federation, the INF-FNI would shoulder the translation costs.
Non-EU fund vs. a Non-EU discount
For the federations outside Europe, a separate disagreement played out between the Thai federation and the Australian, Canadian and South African federations about how to handle the increase in membership fee which was agreed upon at the Congress in 2021.
NAT had re-submitted a proposal for the non-european federations to get a portion of the new fee paid back into a fund from where the non-european members could request money to finance their activities. The structure was a copy of the way the European federations get a 40 pct. portion of their fees paid back into EUNAT.
Canada and Australia argued that the minutes had promised them a re-submission of this proposal at this Congress. This was accepted as a valid argument, but instead of tabling the original motion, the Canadian delegates proposed a new motion that the non-european federations should continue to get a discount as they had before the fee was raised, leaving no room to discuss the benefits of the NAT proposal.
Eventually, the vote gave the non-european federations a discount of 40 percent instead of allocating this to a non-eunat fund.
Defender and promoter of naturism
The Congress lasted unusually long with many more important items on the agenda.
One of the British motions asked the CC to write clear job descriptions for the two current CC positions named Defender of naturism and Promoter of naturism. The motion pointed out that the originally adopted description of the two jobs were quite far from what the two CC members, Filipa Esteves and Rosita Dal Soglio, were currently doing. Both welcomed the motion to make their jobs more clear to the members and the motion was carried.
A separate set of motions from Netherlands, Germany and Britain were aimed at reforming the way the EUNAT works. Nobody questioned whether the INF-FNI actually has jurisdiction to change the EUNAT, so the proposed guidelines for a reformed EUNAT will now formally be discussed and finalized at the next EUNAT meeting. Among the proposals was opening a door for the non-European federations to join the events organised by EUNAT at a similar cost as the federations inside Europe. But with the discount being decided instead, non-European federations will still be welcome, but a different cost will have to be applied if they want to join.
Approval of the Budget
One of the most important points on the agenda, approval of the budget for the next two years, was once again placed to far into the Congress where most members were tired and just approved the budget as a matter of information and not for discussion.
The exorbiant cost of the website of the INF-FNI - 28.000 Euro - was once again highlighted. The delegates have still not got a proper explanation of this cost, including a presentation of any comparative proposals that the EC had requested from other providers before making the decission - which never was not taken by the CC but by the old EC alone.
The big question for the next two years is how the income on stamps will be influenced by the decision of some of the larger members that they will not buy INF-FNI stamps for the same number of members as in the past, explaining various ways of circumventing the current wording of the statutes which does not allow that. These federations are the largest owners of the INF-FNI but they seem more occupied with sub-optimizing their own economy than adding value to the business model of the INF-FNI stamps.
Next Congress: Mexico!
The location of the Congress was right next to Luxembourg airport which made it easy to get there, but there was no opportunity for anyone to be naked. Several members felt weird meeting with naturists in clothes and discussing matters related to our way of life wearing business clothes or street clothes. Eventually, on the second evening, Canadian Greg Snow threw a party in his room which quickly became the only naked hours of the conference.
When it finally came to the discussion, where the next World Congress should be held in 2024, there were three proposals on the table. One from Canada, one from Portugal and one from Mexico. Eventually, the delegates voted for Mexico, Zipolite Beach, which will allow for a fully nude Congress in 2024.
The INF-FNI World Congress 2024 will take place from Thursday, October 17 to Sunday, October 20, 2024 in Zipolite, Mexico.
Apart from discussing the INF-FNI future policy, the Congress is currently the only global naturist platform to exchange experiences and discuss common issues and threats to naturism.