Devon Karst Research Society.
Devon Karst Research Society.
Devon Karst Research Society.
The Society has a Foreign
Policy, which forms the only Section of the Society's Constitution which
has never been ratified by the Membership, even though it has operated
for 27 years. For this reason, we refer to it as a de facto
Historically, the Foreign
Policy had two main aspects of operations: namely, the operation and servicing
of the needs of the Society's former Foreign Membership Sections
and the operation and development of the Society's Foreign Assistance
Under current (but stalled)
proposals to change the status of the Society to that of a Registered Charity,
our Foreign Policy would fundamentally change through the intention to
formalize it, with the consequence that it should be considerably strengthened.
SOCIETY'S FOREIGN MEMBERSHIP SECTIONS :
The Society formerly had
autonomous dedicated Foreign Membership Sections in Hungary,
Slovakia, Croatia and Bosnia & Hercegovina.
Due to long-term project
committments, it can be stated that the Society has been under growing
pressure, for many practical reasons, to increase its committment and involvement
with speleologists in BiH by formalising their full integration into the
Society's General Membership arrangements.
This at a time when the
Society's working relationships with Hungarian speleologists is also rapidly
on the increase. The former internal issues of National / International
Membership status has now been resolved via the creation of a single Membership
entity, rendering as redundant the former concept of dedicated Foreign
Membership Sections, which were originally created to meet the
needs of a particular time but which are now no longer necessary.
SOCIETY'S FOREIGN ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME :
This Policy has arisen and
subsequently developed primarily as a result of the 1991-1996 Balkan War
which caused the fragmentation of the former Yugoslavia and the eventual
creation of the Sovereign Independent States of the Republic of Slovenia,
the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Bosnia & Hercegovina and the
Republic of Macedonia, leaving for an interim period, a residual Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia containing Serbia and a reluctant Montenegro. The
latter two Republics then also became fully Sovereign Independent States.
Secondarily, the Society
was also aware of the problems of speleological and karstological groups
and societies in other areas of Central Eastern Europe, such as in Hungary,
Slovakia, the Moravian province in the Czech Republic and Romania, especially
during the unnaturally rapid change from political systems embracing Communism,
with their centrally planned economies to those of Democracy with Capitalism.
This has wrought immense havoc on the economic survival of the voluntary
sector in each of those countries. It has been possible to target limited
resources at specific organizations in each of the countries mentioned
The philosophical rationale
of the Society's Foriegn Policy during the Balkan War was based on its
concerns about the impact of the War on the many speleological and karstological
organizations which existed in the FRY prior to the War. By 1994, the savage
vehemence and nationalism of the protagonists was apparent to the whole
world and detailed enquiries by the Society had elucidated that, in the
speleological world, little if anything had been done (or was planned to
be done) to help the survival of those fine speleological organizations
to whom the world of speleology and karstology owed so much.
The failure of cavers, speleologists
and karstologists and their organizations around the world to help and
assist the Balkan speleologists and karstologists during this terrible
period of their history was shameful. The Society decided to act unilaterally
with great determination in an act of fellowship towards our colleagues
It should also be mentioned
here that there were two other individuals, one in the Netherlands and
another in Croatia, who were also doing their best to at least maintain
contact with the Bosnia & Hercegovina speleologists.
The "Foreign Assistance
Programme" aspect of the Society's de facto Foreign Policy is detailed
in many internal
Aide Memoires as follows:-
the Report of the Hon. Science Officer to the 1995 A.G.M. "Details
of the Society's "Enabling Role" in Charitable Support Work to Foreign
Groups, Societies and Institutions in 1994."
The Programme benefits
recipient speleological / karstological "voluntary sector" organizations
by financially supporting the upgrading of their existing technical resources
(if applicable) or by financing their technical re-resourcing from a zero
point, through the provision of materials, equipment, publications and
information. This was usually (though not exclusively) undertaken via active
participation in at least one structured medium-to-long-term scientific
project on their "home ground". It also invariably involved the Society
in the role as Facilitator / Enabler for the provision of technical training
services, if found to be necessary. In certain circumstances, assistance
has also been given via direct financial support. Such organizations also
benefit from having full and free access to the Society's Bibliographic
& Academic Library Services as well as other benefits detailed below.
Aide Memoire No. AM.110597.
Policy Guidelines in the Matter of Applying Suitable Criteria when selecting
non-UK Speleological / Karstological Groups or Societies as Recipients
of i) Aid, from or through the Society, or ii) Formal Permanent Contact
Status with the Society."
Aide Memoire No. AM110597
(Attachment No. 1.) "An Example 'Case History' of the Recent Practical
Application of the Criteria."
Aide Memoire No. AM110597
(Attachment No. 2.) "FOREIGN POLICY GUIDELINES. 'Case History' Application
of the Society's Role as an "Enabler" or "Facilitator" in respect of Foreign
Policy Assistance Aid to Speleological and Karstological Societies and
Institutions in Eastern Europe."
Aide Memoire No. 011297."Discussion
Document supporting the need for a Structured Foreign Policy to further
the Aims of the Society abroad."
Aide Memoire No. FP.010898.
List of Specific Foreign (ie non-UK) Speleological and Karstological Institutions,
Societies or Groups included within the Society's Foreign Policy Arrangements
as having a Permanent Contact Status or greater status conferred upon them."
For obvious reasons, we are
unable to give within these Public Access Pages, either operational details
of this Programme or precisely which recipient organizations continue to
benefit or have benefitted from the Programme. The Programme is structured
wherever it is applied and is subject to many on-going criteria and to
routine inspections, re-evaluations and full accountability. However, with
the rapidly growing improvement of the financial situation of the "voluntary
sectors" in many Eastern European countries since 2003, such help as we
have formerly given to organizations in all but Bosnia & Hercegovina
Foreign Assistance Programme, has now been wound
down and terminated, although active links are maintained for small-scale
publications-exchange, publications-support programmes and information
However, in Bosnia &
Hercegovina, a massive expansion of the FAP has taken place and this was
planned to continue until 2011, at which time the results of a planned
general review of the situation to be undertaken in 2009, were then due
to take effect. In view of the Society's deep and long-term project committments
in Bosnia & Hercegovina, the 2009 review suggested that the FAP in
BiH continue at an expanding level until the year 2031.
Foreign Policy Initiative, 2013 - Special "Foreign Policy" Associate Membership
for the BiH "Proteus Project" :
increasing interest by way of practical support and fund-raising taking
place by various UK Nationals who are not Members of the Society, it has
been decided to create a new Membership Status solely within the Foreign
Policy remit, to reward those who have devoted so much time, effort and
dedication to the work of the Society's "Proteus Project" in Bosnia &
initiative began on 01 May 2013 and is awarded to recipients solely on
merit. This type of Membership is awarded only to non-Members of the Society,
who will not enjoy the benefits of voting privileges or attendance at Official
Meetings of the Society.
The Future :
the move towards becoming a Registered Charity currently stalled, the Society
will ensure that its Foreign Assistance Programme will continue,
strengthening both its present management form and the funding for its
proposed future direction via our proposed new Constitution, in which the
Foreign Policy will be intrinsically included.