Chapter 17: The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature

Article 77. Relation of Commission to international bodies from which it derives functions and powers.

77.1. Source of authority. The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature is a permanent body which derives all its powers and its Constitution from resolutions of the International Congresses of Zoology, and their delegated successors.

77.2. Subsequent delegation. The XVII International Congress of Zoology (1972) delegated its powers and functions referred to in the Code and the Constitution of the Commission to the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS). That delegation includes the power to delegate powers and functions to another international body of zoologists under conditions specified in this Article.

77.3. Conditions for delegation.

77.4. The Constitution of the Commission. The Commission is governed by a Constitution [Art. 77.1] (See also Article 84).

77.5. Transitional periods. In any period following the termination of a delegation (made and terminated under Articles 77.3.1 and 77.3.4 respectively), the Commission shall continue its functions under the Code and Constitution, and shall report to the body succeeding to the delegation as though it had been in authority during the period subsequent to its most recent report to the previous body. During that period elections to the Commission must be made by procedures for filling casual vacancies (see Constitution: Article 4.6).

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FranciscoWelterSchultes   5 years later I would only amend a little to what I wrote in July 2010. Today we can see that ZooBank has become a successful service, with 3000 registered experts it could be used for such procedures. Not only would it be easy to determine the degree of experience of the registered taxonomists, but also to refine decisions concerning disputed Code content by experts of certain animal groups. It would be possible to see how many lepidopterists like to be liberated from the mandatory change section of the Code. 2015-12-18 18:14:49
FranciscoWelterSchultes   This entire Article should be basically modified and replaced by something new.

Since 40 years no member of the Commission has been elected in a direct and democratic way by those who feel themselves forced to accept the decisions of that body, and particularly the amended rules of the ICZN Code. The Commission does an important work, and doing this without payment by the zoological community is certainly honorable. But there is no need to do this by disacknowledging the very basic ideas of freedom and democracy.

People today prefer to feel free. This implies that they like to be given a choice, and then accept their own decision by majority rule. Commissioners have a remarkably low reputation in the zoological community. They do an important job, but most taxonomists I know do not acknowledge it properly. Many are convinced that zoologists can only become Commissioners if they are inside a closed inner circle, old and rich people who can afford travelling around the world as much as they like, their e-mail addresses are published at the ICZN website but most do not answer any e-mails, most are editors of journals and have personal and financial interests in this job. Most will save money in printing costs if they vote down the requirement to publish on paper. It takes time to learn that these prejudices are not all true. Except that e-mails are not answered, which is very obviously true for many members. This bad reputation is not good, and the lack of any democratic procedure which does not involve that anyone feels to be allowed to participate in something, does not improve this situation.

In the modern times of internet we have more opportunities than back in 1972. Between 1972 and 2000 there were no zoological congresses (where a small number of selected and financially capable zoologists could assist). The zoological community had no other choice than to allow the Commission's members to elect and re-elect themselves. The "Section of Zoological Nomenclature" of the IUBS is entirely undefined in this Article, and in practical life seems to consist of the members of the Commission. In pre-revolutionary France they had terms for such a form of government. If the present procedure is maintained, it would be better to admit frankly that the members of the Commission are elected and re-elected by themselves.

My proposal is to elaborate a model by which taxonomists could register and under certain criteria (for example, having published 5 papers containing available nomenclatural acts) obtain the right to vote. It cannot be extremely difficult to find a surveymonkey-like program in which the election could be processed. Candidates to become new members of the Commission would have the opportunity to present themselves in a web page provided by ICZN (this cannot be very difficult, if yes they could have the opportunity to get a link to such a page provided by their own servers), and taxonomists would be granted a time frame of a few weeks for the elections.

The same could apply to the members of the Editorial Committee for future new editions of the Code.

The taxonomic community is active. In BHL we made the experience that 1000 zoological taxonomists (the vast majority of these were experts in nomenclature) participated in the BHL User Survey 2010. We had a 6-weeks time frame, but 80 % of the answers came in in the first 6 days (month of March). 45 % of the participants came from Europe (400 persons), 35 % from North America, 8 % from South America. It has surprised ourselves how many experts were interested in participating in a democratic procedure to take decisions (in BHL we had to take decisions and the User Survey was employed for this reason). The basic conclusion of this experience was: if you ask people what they like, they will answer. There is no reason to assume that taxonomists would not or only in a small number participate in general elections.

It would also be easy to define rules for direct voting on certain important amendments to the Code. For example, to take highly necessary decisions of how the author should be spelled in zoology, with initials or without, should abbreviations be forbidden or not, should the comma between author and year be mandatory or not, should there be a maximum number of authors behind the name of a taxon. There could be provisions in the Code to set limits for such decisions (for example amendments for very basic regulations would need a 90 % vote to get approved, other important issues 67 %).

A democratic structure would be a good base for nomenclatural decisions getting broad acceptance. Broad acceptance would be highly appreciated in zoology.
2010-07-20 20:52:08

Article77 (last edited 2009-04-27 12:42:13 by localhost)