European Science Fiction Society Disallows Award Nominations and Delegates from Russia and Belarus

This week European Science Fiction Society delegates created a rule authorizing them to disallow award nominations and delegates from a country, then immediately voted to apply the new provisions to exclude Russia and Belarus for 2022.

The ESFS is meeting at Eurocon, being held concurrently with LuxCon from April 7-10 in Dudelange, Luxembourg. The full text of the original proposal was quoted by File 770 here.

Filer JVjr attended the meeting and reports in comments that the new rule was passed after being modified to require a 75% supermajority (instead of the proposed simple majority). “Afterwards, there was some amount of confusion about the number of delegates present and quora required, but in the end both Russia (19 of 21, 1 abstention?) and Belarus (17, 2 against, 1 abstention) were added to the sanctions list [Appendix 5].”

For future reference, ESFS Award Administrator Carol Connolly explained on Facebook how the new Appendix 5 will operate.

Let’s say in 2023 I am the Irish delegate. At the very start of the 2023 GM [General Meeting], someone proposes Ireland be added to Appendix 5. We all vote on that (including me as one of the Irish delegates), the motion passes and Ireland is added to Appendix 5. The Irish nominations are removed from the 2023 Awards ballot which will be given to the delegates at the end of the GM. I am no longer a delegate so I cannot vote on other motions at the 2023 GM. (I am still a member of the ESFS, like every other 2023 Eurocon attendee, so along with every member I can vote in the site selection that will choose the 2025 Eurocon.)

Ireland has no nominations on the 2024 ESFS Awards ballot.

I choose to attend the 2024 Eurocon. I go the to GM and when the GM begins Appendix 5 is officially empty again, so I one of the Irish delegates. The first item on the Agenda is the addition of countries to Appendix 5. If no-one proposes Ireland, I remain the Irish delegate (there are still no Irish nominations on the 2024 ESFS Awards ballot). If someone does propose Ireland again, I can vote on that motion as a delegate. If it passes, I can no longer vote on other motions. If it fails, I can vote on other motions.

There is also an early removal mechanism so that if in late 2023/2024 it was felt that Ireland should be removed early from Appendix 5 so that we could have the chance to nominate for the 2024 ESFS Awards, an EGM [Extraordinary General Meeting] could be called and if the motion to remove Ireland passed we could send in nominations.

Update: The organization made a statement about the “ESFS AGM Decision – 2022” on April 8 after this post was published.

War is against the very values on which the ESFS was founded. 50 years ago the ESFS was created during the Cold War to promote understanding between people of different racial, political and religious grounds.. The recent military invasion of Ukraine by the government of Russia supported by the government of Belarus goes against everything that ESFS and European fandom stands for. This invasion is also directly responsible for preventing Ukrainian delegates from attending this year’s Eurocon.

In light of these unprecedented events, which are due to government decisions & actions, at the ESFS general meeting in Dudelange a motion was passed to allow the ESFS delegates to remove the delegate voting, award nomination rights and convention bids of countries. These rights were then removed from Russia and Belarus until the opening of the next general meeting of the ESFS in June 2023. This includes any votes of the ESFS until that general meeting, and the rights to nominate any people or works for the 2022 and 2023 ESFS Awards. This took effect immediately. Furthermore the Board and the Delegates stated that Russian and Belarusian fans remain part of the European science fiction community and ESFS members.

We look forward to Ukrainian fans being able to travel to Eurocon in 2023 and hope to share the joy of that event with all members of the ESFS family.

17 thoughts on “European Science Fiction Society Disallows Award Nominations and Delegates from Russia and Belarus

  1. One clarification on this. “Therefore, in 2023 Russia and Belarus will resume participating in awards and society governance unless they are returned to Appendix 5 by another vote.” This decision means that neither country can nominate any people or works for the 2023 awards. If they aren’t readded to Appendix 5 they will resume participation, but they will have missed the nomination window for next year’s awards.

    The ESFS Board have published a statement here: https://www.esfs.info/2022/04/08/esfs-agm-decision-2022/

  2. It might be worth noting that Carol is an outgoing administrator after 6 years, IIRC (sorry, it’ s hard to check while at-con, or rather arrived at the hotel before midnight through 2,54 cm of wet snow that has been falling most of the day); the current TAFF nominee from Poland has offered to fill the space, with her promise of help (the work should be easier now that an online voting system has been bought, though still apparently based on simple plurality: about 10 countries nominate, many of them stuffing all 12 categories possible. Folks, puh-leeeze.) All the rest of the board were re-elected without contest.

    Link to Carol’s explanation in the Facebook group “Eurosmof” can be found in the comments below the earlier post – again, sorry, it’s hard to copy it here in the field while on a mobile device.

    Finally, now that you have taken this out of comments and somebody else might read it and wonder about the numbers not adding up — either one delegate left after the total was determined, or rather refrained from raising hands even in the “abstain” category. (Or the total MIGHT in principle have been counted wrong; I didn’t try to doublecheck.)

    Oh, and there was a prerecorded video from the (presumptive/past) Russian delegate. He expressed doubts about the utility of the amendment but cautioned that his tongue is tied as he can’t say anything that would be considered “administrative or criminal offense”. Seemed like one of the good guys, stressed the need for peace first and foremost, may have even used the doubleplusproscribed unword “war”.

  3. I did check the website first. This statement was published after my post went live.

  4. Miko?aj Kowalewski was elected as the ESFS Awards Administrator and the rest of the Board were re-elected. And yes, there was some change in the number of people leaving the room, plus those abstaining abstained. There was no count of abstaining delegates, just Yes & No on all motions during the meeting.

    And yes, the ESFS Board statement was published a while after this post went live. This is not surprising on any count.

  5. I recall quite clearly that before the end there was a demand for counting / officially recognising the abstentions, and they were. Oh well, we get the minutes soon, I suppose.

    Finally – I didn’t have the time or will to argue with Carol on an insubstantial detail, but for the sake of other readers especially outside Europe, her description of Eurocon site selection seems to me contradictory to the Statutes (too influenced by the Worldcon’s one?): “”The vote for the Eurocon shall comprise delegate votes, a maximum of two for each country, and ESFS member votes on a one person-one vote basis. A person may not cast both a delegate vote and an ESFS member vote.”
    The definition of individual Society membership is a mess (like much of the Statutes) but it seems reserved for extremely enthusiastic eurofans, like the current board members, or a unused vestige of the past, but certainly not “every attendee”. (I saw the former ESFS chair being told “You can’t vote, you aren’t a delegate” — “I can, I registered as my country’s second delegate”. Of course, I saw much… insufficuent acquaintance with the Statutes from the floor.) So I would expect with no delegates, no Eurocon vote. Well, we will see soon.

  6. Also, apologies if it seemed from my phrasing that I impugn Mike’s editorial good practices instead of expressing uncertainty (or failing to consider the third possibility) — you know how time, and consciousness itself, warps at conventions. Per RSS https://www.esfs.info/feed/ the statement was posted on Fri, 08 Apr 2022 20:22:11 +0000; I always have trouble unpacking File770’s Pacific timestamp, and don’t even see it now on mobile.

  7. So this includes writers who may be opposed to the war in Ukraine but happen to be Russian or Belarussian?

  8. Interesting to see how it goes in the future when there’s call for other countries to face similar treatment; if I know my fellow Europeans, rules will be quickly changed again to avoid such possibility, if there’s even a chance.

  9. Belated “But I tried, didn’t I? Goddamnit, at least I did that” department:

    At the end of the meeting, I suggested that it might have some weight and do some good if there were a resolution saying politely but firmly something like “ESFS calls upon the Chengdu Worldcon to reconsider the GoH invitation to Sergei Lukyanenko, whose loud enthusiastic support of aggressive criminal war contravenes values international fandom stands for.”

    The Board however was of the opinion that first, ESFS is an apolitical organization, second, this might put undue pressure on the CDWC which is under political control and it is better to work behind the scenes. The meeting apparently concurred; as I was not formally a delegate and nobody took up the motion, there was not any vote, although the record-keeper asked for the wording to include it in the minutes all the same. (Later I was told that during the twenty-five minutes I was absent on Friday, some delegates showed surprising lack of understanding of the facts on the battleground and it took some lobbying like “But do you realize the reason why Borys can’t be here now is Russia?”)

    So for as long as it is possible to say the words “world, SF, honour, fascist” in one sentence, Europe remains part of that world. But goddamnit, at least not. In. My. Name.

  10. Jan, I believe that is a deeply disingenuous reading of the ESFS BM’s opinion and actions in regards to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I realise that you’re unhappy that the meeting didn’t agree with you on everything, but please do not ascribe motives or beliefs that are not there. I cannot speak for delegates that are not me, but I think that the meeting realises far more than you think it does and that you are misrepresenting the events of the last two days.

  11. “Russian and Belarusian fans remain part of the European science fiction community and ESFS members” — but, despite most (if not all) of these fans playing no direct role in the invasion of Ukraine, their nomination and voting rights just got cancelled by this allegedly “apolitical organization”. Not exactly a red letter day for fandom sans frontières.

  12. Brian, that’ s exactly what I am doing my utmost to avoid, reporting only on what happened and everybody in the room saw, so you are free to elaborate how you “think” the stress made me an unreliable witness, or worse (the minutes should be published within a few days),

    I spoke. (There was some applause). Somebody from the Board (sorry, I still can’t remember who is who) said what I wrote down almost verbatim. There was one or possibly two voices from the floor that the situation is complicated and they agree with the Board. The meeting ended,

    I do not CARE what the “meeting realises”, let alone what anybody thinks. What matters is what ESFS did.

  13. It is disappointing. No such action was taken when NATO waged war on, and splitted Yugoslavia. We only moved the Eurocon-site to Freudenstadt in 1992. But ofc, our war was just, fair, righteous and we only did some humanitarian bombing, ruined their infrastructure and ended their oil refining capability. Romania avoided the same fate by yielding their refinery. Was all ok, since it was all in our own favour. No surprise the Serbians now are siding with Russia. You must disallow them too.

    Taking a political stance has always been against the values and principles the ESFS was founded upon. This is why it survived for 50 years. It saddens me you were compelled to end your neutrality.

  14. Wolf von Witting: I believe that next time Serbia commits genocide against other nations, the organization will intervene.

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