For a while now, as a common interest internet collective, we have been discussing a way to become recognized as a community without compromising on the core and fundamental aspects of our existence: to be decentralized, fair and equal.
While most of the core members of BTCZ, that gather around the proverbial ‘campfire’ on daily basis, have developed a fair degree of trust between one another, we have some community members that simply come and go (@cryptorex has summarised this phenomenon very well in his ‘Campfire’ post). Due to the nature of the ‘open door policy’ in our community, we have to take into consideration that not everyone will always act in our best interest therefore we can’t allow the bad actions of the very few to create issues, legal or otherwise, to the remaining members of the community while at the same time not unduly restricting anyone from becoming a member.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights opens possibilities for our community to thrive. Article 22, the second cornerstone of the Declaration, introduces articles 23 to 27, in which economic, social and cultural rights - the rights to which everyone is entitled “as a member of society” - are set out. The article characterizes these rights as indispensable for human dignity and the free development of personality, and indicates that they are to be realized “through national effort and international cooperation”. At the same time, it points out the limitations of realization, the extent of which depends on the resources of each State.
The European Journal of International Law published a paper on ‘The Legal Dimension of the International Community: How Community Interests Are Protected in International Law’ in which, the author, Santiago Villalpando, states:
The ‘international community’ remains an evasive concept and […] while the majority of international lawyers seem to have embraced the notion, which provides for an attractive solution to many of the problems and tensions of the contemporary law of nations, authoritative appeals for caution are recurrently made and the very legal value of the concept is sometimes put in doubt.
A brief consideration should also be given to a possibility of becoming what is commonly called a Micronation. The major and only real obstacle of becoming a legally recognized nation is having a claim of sovereignty over some physical territory. (I am happy to discuss the reasons behind not proposing this avenue in Discord/Slack)
Further to the points outlined above, plus our desire to be officially recognized as a community, we are left with very limited options that would allow us to remain decentralized to the fullest extent of the international law, while consciously avoiding to adopt any available corporate or centralized structures.
Therefore, having considered all available options, I would like to propose for BitcoinZ community to become an Unincorporated Association.
What is an Unincorporated Association
An unincorporated association is a membership organization that is recognized in a majority of jurisdictions and can be defined by:
- Having voting members
- Ability to be charitable (but does not have to be)
- Is not incorporated
The association can be whatever its members want it to be, and carry out whatever activity the members choose. It is the easiest and most cost-effective way for a group to set itself up. It is ideal for any groups, especially those without staff or premises. To set up an unincorporated association, BitcoinZ community needs to draw up a constitution, setting out the rules under which it will be run.
A constitution is simply the aims and rules that BitcoinZ community will use. It’s a statement of what our association is going to do and how it is going to do it.
The most obvious reasons for having a written constitution is that it provides a record of what was agreed. New members joining should understand far better what is expected of them, and disagreements as to how the organization should be managed will be minimized.
The second reason stems from the fact that all members are collectively responsible for the actions of the BitcoinZ association. Writing the rules down reminds all members what they may or may not do and therefore helps reduce the possibility that an individual acts in a way that jeopardizes the interests of another member.
It follows that the downside of being unincorporated is that the members are never safe from liability incurred by others of them. The safest way to run a simple organization is to make sure that the rules make clear that no member may commit the association to any contract or expense without the consent of the body of members and that all expenses are funded in advance.
By providing clear guidelines as to how the BitcoinZ community organization will work, a constitution safeguards the interests of members against each other and ensures on-going success.
The community will need to have a vote to decide who will be entitled to be a member of the BTCZ Association.
This could be:
- everyone who pays a membership fee; or
- all users and volunteers at the project; or
- anyone who supports the aims of the group and participates in its activities
Whether there will be a membership fee is entirely up to the community, the membership may be a donation. The advantages are that it makes it very clear who is a member (the people who have paid) and it raises a bit of money. The disadvantages are that it may put people off and that it can be fiddly to collect the money.
The community can decide this each year at the Annual General Meeting, and we have to remember to put this in our constitution.
While a vast majority of the unincorporated associations opt to be run by an elected committee the constitution can specify for it to be run without a one, therefore, on a completely decentralised basis.
In this instance, the entire group/community is the ‘committee’ and everyone is responsible for the group’s affairs.
We will still need to have members that share responsibility for long term tasks such as managing the money. It is useful to decide in advance of each meeting who will be the Chair or Facilitator and who will take minutes. Our existing proposals structure can remain and be built into the constitution.
All in all, I would like everyone to give this proposal serious consideration. I think this would be a big step forward for the community and truly one of its kind in the decentralised cryptosphere.
I am conscious that this vote is only the very first step to make this a reality and there is a long list of things to consider. This is a big project; amongst other things, we will have a vote on the official name, each aspect of the constitution etc. nonetheless we have to start somewhere, right?
While I may not be as active in the social channels as I would like, should this vote be a success, I would be privileged to go on this journey with the BitcoinZ community and promise to assist in making this happen.
I will be glad to answer any questions you may have and I would like to thank you for taking out the time to read my proposal.
Please vote on the following question
Would you like BitcoinZ community to become an official decentralised Unincorporated Association governed by a democratic constitution?