One of the main decisions at the recent 90th Extraordinary General Assembly was the approval of the new FIDE Charter, that replaces the old FIDE Statutes and came into force on March 1, 2020.
But what does this change implies, and why it was required?
This reform was needed because the previous FIDE Statutes were severely outdated. There was a pressing need to renew them in order to turn FIDE into a more modern, transparent, democratic and efficient institution, in full compliance with International Olympic Committee stands. The main rules of our organization have a fundamental role in making this possible, clarifying the system of FIDE rules and regulations, defining the principles of FIDE, establishing clear management structures, improving the role of the independent Elected Commissions, and updating the role of Zonal Presidents.
One of the main changes is that the "Presidential Board" is now replaced by the "FIDE Council", a strategic and oversight body with law-making and executive functions. Its number of members was reduced to 15 members, to facilitate the efficient work process. In the former statutes, less than half of the Presidential Board members were elected independently of the President, while in the new Charter more than half of them are elected independently of the President. Votes on elections for the members of the FIDE Council must be made by secret ballot.
The role of the FIDE President is now defined as "representing the institution in all external relations, managing day-to-day activities, signing contracts, maintaining good relations between FIDE and the Federations, and fostering a positive image of FIDE". The new Charter also introduces term limits: a person cannot serve as President for more than two terms (including the current term).
The President is assisted by the management board, an operational body with executive, operational and administrative functions, but without any legislative competencies. This body manages ordinary activities and resources, coordinates current activities of officials, commissions, FIDE offices and employees, and implements decisions and attains objectives set by the President and the Council.
In the new Charter, the General Assembly is reinforced as the organ with the highest authority in FIDE, getting more powers: it becomes the main body dealing with all major issues, including FIDE elections, budget approval, and votes of no confidence. It acts as an internal appellate organ for all decisions taken by the Council and the President. To improve transparency, the new FIDE charter also introduces "a vote of no confidence": The General Assembly may dismiss elected officials (including the President of the entire Council), with a majority of two-thirds of valid votes. Motions of no confidence can be debated following a proposal supported by a minimum of 65 member federations, or by 7 members of the council.
The elected commissions, like the Ethics Commission or the Disciplinary Commission, remain as professional and independent organs for specific FIDE tasks.
As it would be expected, such a profound reform initially raised many questions from the members of the chess community. The comments and suggestions gathered during months of open dialogue often turned in improvements that were introduced in the draft, producing, as a result, a more robust FIDE Charter that, on its final form, was approved with wide support: 112 votes in favor, 1 abstention, and 1 vote against.