IPA Statement on Democracy in the Professional Organisations of Psychoanalysis

The IPA is an association of professionals; it is the Members, as a collective body, who are the supreme decision-makers of the organisation:

"The IPA is an association of psychoanalysts throughout the world ... who govern the IPA pursuant to these Rules." Rule 1E
"The IPA is governed by the IPA Members". Rule 6A
"IPA Members exercise supreme control of the IPA". Rule 6B(1)

Implicit in these rules is that the IPA is founded and run on democratic principles, where each of the Members of the association has an equal part to play. Some Members - for example, when elected to positions as officers or Board Representatives - temporarily exercise management powers on behalf of the membership as a whole. But holding those positions of power is limited to specific maximum terms, and rotations are often built in to ensure equity. All their management decisions are subject to challenge or change by the Members. And the Rules draw a distinction between day-to-day management decisions - which can be delegated to officers and committees - and governance, which remains in the control of all Members.
There are a number of specific examples which demonstrate the IPA's implementation of the core value of democracy:

  1. Voting: All officers (President, Vice President and Treasurer) and Board Representatives are elected by all IPA members, and are there to represent the wishes of the membership as a whole. All chairs and members of committees are appointed subject to a consent vote by the Board of Representatives.
  2. Term Limits: All elected officers and Board Representatives have term limits; and all committee appointments are automatically terminated at the end of each Presidency, and subject to reappointment by the President with the consent of the Board (some of these appointments, especially those which exercise governance powers such as the Ethics Committee, are also specifically term-limited).
  3. Transparency: Detailed minutes are taken of all Executive Committee and Board meetings, and these minutes are available to all IPA members. The annual report and independently audited accounts are always available through the internet.
  4. Nominations: There are various routes for nomination of members to the Board and the committees serving the IPA, including suggestions by an inter-regional nominating committee, and self nomination through petition from members.
  5. Checks and Balances: The most important decisions are subject to confirmation by more than one body (eg, the annual IPA budget is drafted by the Treasurer; is reviewed by a special Budget & Finance Committee; is further reviewed by the Executive Committee; and is then subject to the approval of the Board).

The democratic values of the IPA are also reflected in the Procedural Code; for example:
Policy on Non-Discrimination:
"On the basis of its commitment to ethical and humanistic values, the IPA opposes all unlawful or unjustifiable discrimination of any kind. The IPA is committed to a policy of equality, including in employment, on all the grounds laid down in relevant UK legislation including age, disability, gender or gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, and sexual orientation."
(Source: http://www.ipa.world/IPA/en/IPA1/Procedural_Code/Non_Discrimination_Policy.aspx)
IPA Ethics Code:
"The Ethics Code ... reflects humanitarian values, psychoanalytic principles, and professional obligations to patients and the public."
(Source: http://www.ipa.world/ipa/en/IPA1/Procedural_Code/Ethics_code_new.aspx)
While psychoanalysis emerged in the turbulent states of central Europe in the late nineteenth century, the profession, in managing its own affairs, with and through the IPA, has tried to act with due deference to the importance of democracy. This is intended to continue into the future: much of the work of the International New Groups Committee is about ensuring that each emerging society has a constitution and governance arrangements which are rooted in democracy and which will enable all analysts to work together for the good of the profession.
The IPA remains committed to the principles of equality between all IPA Members; and to our professional bodies - both the IPA and our constituent organisations - being organised democratically for the benefit of all analysts, the wider profession, and the public we serve.
Approved by the Board July 2017