Rotary’s parliament — the Council on Legislation


All Rotarians view themselves as law-abiding citizens out to do good in the world. But barring the time of election disputes, Rotary bylaws, Manual of Procedure and Rotary Code of Policies gather dust on our shelves, if at all in our mental radar at any time.

A common thought and query for most Rotarians is that we are in Rotary to serve society and we should do so with humility and grace. So why do we need bylaws and policies? When Rotarians from diverse professions, socio-economic strata and cultures plan and implement service projects, prescribe the nature and scope of leadership roles/responsibilities, set goals and attach their self-esteem to Rotary positions, a need often arises to define rules, regulations, roles, personal conduct boundaries and responsibilities to ensure that well-intentioned Rotarians work in harmony, with minimal conflict, and as a team to improve the standard of life in local and international communities.

The Council on Legislation, called the parliament of Rotary, continuously sets, reviews and renews certain bylaws as edicts cast in stone. These enactments can only be amended once in three years, generally by elected representatives from each of the 540-plus world Rotary districts coming together in Chicago and voting on each RI bylaw and the standard constitution of a Rotary club designed to be a structural edifice which defines and dignifies a club, Rotary district and Rotary officers including club officers, the RI board of directors and the RI president.

Within the framework of enactments the CoL delegates suggest resolutions, as working guidelines and policies, to the RI board. The board reviews these suggestions, generates some on their own and, in their collective wisdom, bring out in writing Rotary policies codified as a publication periodically.

These enactments and policies are the basis of our Rotary clubs’ constitution and bylaws which mould the members into good Rotarians, and define their conduct and behaviour.

Witnessing a CoL meeting is fascinating. Representatives from various countries propose motions of enactments and resolutions. Real time interpretations take place. The process includes tabling the resolutions, moving amendments, waving coloured placards to speak for and against the motions and voting electronically under the guidance of the CoL chair and the top RI leadership in attendance.

The 2022 CoL will be held in Chicago from April 10–14. Representatives to the CoL should carefully go through the various sections of Rotary bylaws and code of policies. Feel the positive intent behind each codified section to improve our Rotary movement so as to enrich our lives and the community we serve.

Dr Mahesh Kotbagi
RI Director, 2021–23

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