ICCF TO VOTE ON RUSSIA AND BELARUS SUSPENSION
The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) is about to change its Statute and then apply the Amendments retrospectively to suspend the Belarus Federation and Russian Federation.
The ICCF has announced an Extraordinary Congress without explicitly explaining the reason.
Online voting begins on April 27 and ends on May 9, 2022. The required majority to change the Statute is 2/3.
The proposals made are dubious from a legal and moral point of view.
Under Article 17 of the current Statute, the activities of a national correspondent association in the ICCF can be suspended or stopped only for non-payment of the membership fee. On this basis, Venezuela, which is in a confusing situation, was recently expelled from the ICCF in turbulent circumstances.
However, it is intended to amend Article 17 so that one can be expelled or suspended for reasons other than financial ones:
“The Executive Board is empowered by Congress to propose suspension or dismissal of member federations for non-financial reasons.”
Only “self-evident” is mentioned as a “consideration”.
However, the only thing that is self-evident is that the aim is to punish Russia and Belarus for the Ukraine invasion — even if they do not say it.
But why has the ICCF not understood the obvious thing before, and only now — especially in the context of the Russian/Ukrainian war? In the context of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, the ICCF has not taken such a matter for granted…
Article 10 says:
“ICCF is a democratic association and does not discriminate based on race, skin colour, sex, language, religion, political, or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth origin or any other status. ICCF observes strict neutrality with respect to the internal affairs of member federations and affiliated organizations”.
The proposal is to modify Article 10 by removing the following words, “national or.”
First, this amendment is redundant if the aim is to suspend Russia and Belarus. Russia and Belarus are the states, not nations. Punishing the state for the state’s actions, like starting a war, is not the same as a punishment based on the nationality of the citizens of that state.
Second, this amendment is dangerous as it removes a barrier to real discrimination. For example, the amended Statute would allow excluding Israel from the ICCF based on Jewishness and implemented by the majority of votes.
However, if the amendment to Article 10 fails, it does not prevent suspending Russia and Belarus.
Suspending Russia and Belarus
The next nuance is that the amendment to Article 17 of the Statute is to be implemented retrospectively — Russia and Belarus are to be suspended based on a clause in the Statute adopted after Russia started the war against Ukraine. It is a backwards-looking jurisdiction:
“If approved, this change to the ICCF Statutes would take effect immediately after approval of Congress (with the requisite 2/3 minimum votes of those voting).”
“Suspend the Russian Federation in accordance with ICCF Statute Article 17.”
This is also called an ad hoc argument (an argument, evidence, law, etc., used specifically for the present case).
The status of Russia and Belarus is to be voted at the same virtual congress under a new clause in the Statute. Evidently, the Ukraine war is kept in mind. But they are not going to vote, retrospectively, for example, about the membership of the US, on the basis of the still ongoing US occupation of Iraq.
However, no justifications are given here. Only the majority is quoted as the “rationale”:
“The ICCF Executive Board called for an Extraordinary Congress to consider the request from a majority of delegates to suspend the Russian Federation.”
This means that anyone can be expelled from the ICCF if the majority wants to. Every delegate may even have a different reason why to do that. But, of course, their reasons may converge. For example, imagine that the strongest grandmasters are in country A. The other countries compose the majority. So they may get rid of country A. Simply vote it out.
It is difficult to avoid the impression that the chess players/administrators are not so bright and not so moral. The proposals made are discriminative and ad hoc. One may even say that despotic. They would probably understand it only when they themselves become the victims of such legal creativity.
It is far from being a general and entrenched rule that every country that starts a war or occupies another country should be suspended from the international sports organization. Instead, it looks like politicizing the international sports organization and choosing the side — but only in the current international conflict.