06 May 2010

FIDE Ethics

While working on the post FIDE Ethics Commission Judgement 04/06 for my World Chess Championship blog, I became curious about the origin and powers of the FIDE Ethics Commission itself. The commission is defined in the FIDE Handbook, Administrative Subjects, Chapter 8. - The commissions, or the delegates, of FIDE.

Ethics Commission (ETH) 1- Objectives: The Ethic Commission shall consider any alleged breaches of FIDE code of ethics as specified in the Statutes. 2- Membership : 2.1 The ETH shall consist of five members [...] 3- Proceedings: 3.1 The members of the ETH shall elect Chairman and a Secretary from within themselves upon their election by the GA. [...]

The code of ethics is described in another chapter of the same section in the Handbook: Chapter 10. FIDE Code of Ethics

1. Introduction 1.1 The game and concept of chess is based on the assumption that everyone involved / concerned observe existing rules and regulations and attaches the greatest importance to fair play and good sportsmanship. 1.2 It is impossible to define exactly and in all circumstances the standard of conduct expected from all parties involved in FIDE tournaments and events, or to list all sets which would amount to a breach of the Code of Ethics and lead to disciplinary sanctions. In most cases common sense will tell the participants the standards of behavior that are required. [...]

In that last link are two important annexes: Annex 1: Procedural Rules and Annex 2: Guidelines to the Interpretation of FIDE Code of Ethics. The Ethics Commission took a giant step forward at the 2006 Turin Olympiad, with the election of Roberto Rivello as the Chairman of the Commission. He subsequently penned an article for Chessbase.com -- How the FIDE Ethics Commission (EC) works (11 May 2007) -- with a particular emphasis on procedure.

Probably the former EC Chairmen were not lawyers and did not consider this point as a very important one. I was informed that, in the past, the Chairman used to decide case by case the proceeding internal rules, without expressing them in an explicit form. In practice there were no written rules and no hearings. This was not so uncommon. The same happened in many other sporting Federations till recent years. Today is much less common: sport justice is becoming more and more important.

In any case, I am a jurist. I am Judge in Italy, with jurisdiction on criminal cases, I am Professor of International Law and International Organization at the University of Turin, I organize with UNICRI – a UN organ – a LL’M Master on International Criminal Law and International Criminal Justice. It is my work, and for me rules are very important: I believe it is not possible to take fair decisions without any previous proceeding rules, even in the sportive Justice.

Chess players, organizers, and officials have often sought redress through open letters published on the main chess news sites, often quickly forgotten. The Ethics Commission provides a formal means of seeking real justice.

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