The World of Rotary
Rotary International is the most territorial organisation in the world. It exists in 184 different countries and territories and cuts across dozens of languages, political and social structures, customs, religions and traditions. How is it that all of the more than 25,500 Rotary Clubs of the world operate in almost identical style? The primary answer is the Standard Rotary Club Constitution.
One of the conditions to receive a Charter to become a Rotary Club is to accept the Standard Club Constitution, originally adopted in 1922. The Standard Club Constitution outlines administrative techniques for Clubs to follow in holding weekly meetings, procedures of membership and Classifications, conditions of attendance and payment of dues and other policies relating to public issues and political positions.
This constitutional document provides the framework for all Rotary Clubs in the world. When the Standard Club Constitution was accepted, it was agreed that all existing Clubs could continue to follow their current constitution. Although most of those early Clubs have subsequently endorsed the Standard Constitution, a few pre-1922 Clubs still conduct their Club affairs according to their former constitutional provisions.
The Standard Club Constitution has to be considered one of the great strengths of Rotary to enable the organisation to operate in so many thousands of communities.
International Responsibilities of a Rotarian
As an international organisation, Rotary offers each member unique opportunities and responsibilities unlike those of other groups one might join. Although each Rotarian has first responsibility to uphold the obligations of citizenship of his or her own country, membership in Rotary enables Rotarians to take a somewhat different view of international affairs. In the early 1950s a Rotary philosophy was adopted to describe how a Rotarian may think on a global basis. Here is what it said:
A world-minded Rotarian:
looks beyond national patriotism and considers himself as sharing responsibility for the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace
resists any tendency to act in terms of national or racial superiority
seeks and develops common grounds for agreement with peoples of other lands
defends the rule of law and order to preserve the liberty of the individual so that he may enjoy freedom of thought, speech and assembly, and freedom from persecution, aggression, want and fear
supports action directed toward improving standards of living for all peoples, realising that poverty anywhere endangers prosperity everywhere
upholds the principles of justice for mankind; · strives always to promote peace between nations and prepares to make personal sacrifices for that ideal
urges and practices a spirit of understanding of every other man’s beliefs as a step toward international goodwill, recognising that there are certain basic moral and spiritual standards which will ensure a richer, fuller life.”
That is quite an assignment for any Rotarian to practice in thoughts and actions!
Object of Rotary
In some areas of the world weekly Rotary Club meetings begin with all members standing and reciting the Object of Rotary. This statement, which comes from the Constitution of Rotary, is frequently seen on a wall plaque in Rotarians’ offices or place of business.
The Object of Rotary is “to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise”. The statement then lists four areas by which this “ideal of service” is fostered: through the development of acquaintance as the opportunity for service; the promotion of high ethical standards in business and professions; through service in one’s personal, business and community life; and the advancement of international understanding, good-will and peace.
The Object of Rotary has not always been expressed in this manner. The original Constitution of 1906 had three objects: promotion of business interests, promotion of good fellowship and the advancement of the best interests of the community. By 1910 Rotary had five Objects as increased emphasis was given to expanding Rotary. By 1915 there were six objects. ln 1918 the Objects were rewritten again and reduced to four. Four years later they had again grown to six and were revised again in 1927.
Finally, at the 1935 Mexico City Convention, the six Objects were restated and reduced to four. The last major change came in 1951, when the “Objects” were streamlined and changed to a single “Object” which is manifested in four separate ways. The “ideal of service” is the key phrase in the Object of Rotary. This ideal in an attitude of being a thoughtful and helpful person in all of one’s endeavours. That’s what the Object truly means.
Declaration of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions
The Declaration of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions is a statement of recent origin. It was adopted by the Rotary International Council on Legislation in 1989 to provide more specific guidelines for the high ethical standards called for in the Object of Rotary. Here is the text:
As a Rotarian engaged in a business or profession, I am expected to:
Consider my vocation to be another opportunity to serve;
Be faithful to the letter and to the spirit of the ethical codes of my vocation, to the laws of my country, and to the moral standards of my community
Do all in my power to dignify my vocation and to promote the highest ethical standards in my chosen vocation
Be fair to my employer, employees, associates, competitors, customers, the public and all those with whom I have a business or professional relationship
Recognize the honour and respect due to all occupations which are useful to society
Offer my vocational talents to provide opportunities for young people, to work for the relief of the special needs of others and to improve the quality of life in my community
Adhere to honesty in my advertising and in all representations to the public concerning my business or profession