Wikimedia Global Assembly

A proposal for a Wikimedia Global Council


Short Summary


In accordance with the principles and values set out in the Strategy 2030 of the Wikimedia Movement, the recommendation Ensure Equity in Decision-making and in order to support the work of the MCDC, we, affiliates of the Wikimedia movement, propose a scenario in addition to those presented before the Wikimania 2023.

When we look at the current two scenarios of the MCDC drafts on the global council we feel that an obvious third scenario is missing (especially when looking at the recommendations that were the result of our earlier strategy processes). We see a future scenario where a Global Assembly and a Global Board work together to ensure representation within decision-making and the necessary agility to get things done. In this scenario a Global Assembly is the highest decision making body of the Wikimedia movement. It co-exists with and complements our existing governance structures, including online community self-governance, the Board of the WMF, and the governance of affiliates, in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity and self-management. The Global Assembly includes representatives from all the movement affiliates, online communities and Wikimedia Foundation. This assembly approves global strategy, affiliates, projects and fundraising and resource distribution policies. To make this Global Assembly more agile and practical it elects a Global Board and it is supported by staff and committees. The Global Assembly and Global Board together constitute the Global Council. There are a lot of details that need to be decided upon together and then put into the charter. We would encourage everyone to discuss the merits of this at a high level AND look at this as a scenario which we are moving towards and which might require several steps over a longer period of time in order to achieve. We invite comments and discussion on the talk page.

A Global Assembly + a Global Board = the Global Council


In this proposed model, a Global Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the Wikimedia Movement, made up of representatives from affiliates, WMF, online communities and some external partners. The Global Assembly elects a Global Board, and is supported by a staffed Secretariat.

The Global Assembly

  1. approves overall Movement Strategy, including the implementation of the recommendations of the 2030 Strategy;
  2. elects, oversees and has the power to dismiss the Global Board;
  3. approves core global policies guiding the movement’s work;
  4. is supported by committees as required;
  5. receives reports and proposals from the Global Board and committees and makes decisions in areas within its competence;
  6. on the recommendations of the respective committees, the Global Council approves the creation of new affiliates and hubs; as well as that of new Wikimedia projects
  7. approves the policies related to fundraising and to the distribution of income for the whole movement.

The Global Assembly holds a regular meeting annually, while the Global Board meets on a more regular basis, probably monthly.

In accordance with Recommendation 4, the Global Assembly must represent the diversity of the Wikimedia movement by setting up representation quotas and by creating electoral and selection procedures aimed at allowing everyone to participate fairly in decision-making.

The General Assembly is composed of representatives of Wikimedia individuals, communities, organizations, and partners bringing expertise from the free knowledge ecosystem. Members serve on the Global Assembly and Board as volunteers, but are compensated for their expenses.

  • So, why is this different from the current proposals which the MCDC has made?

Current proposals are more or less trying to improve the current situation without really changing where final decisions are made. We feel that it is important to distribute both the decision making and the work being done across the whole movement. That is the basis of the Global Assembly.

  • I am missing a lot of details…( why have you not written down the meeting dates, times and location for the general assembly meetings for the next 30 years?)

As Wikimedians we are really good at working out (and arguing about) the details. And when we talk about the details we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture. If you disagree with one detail it is often confused with disagreeing with the whole idea. So we invite you to comment on the summary above with your general sentiment and respond to these Q&A on specific topics.

  • If the general assembly only meets once a year, that does not sound like a group that could quickly make decisions….

This is the reason why there is an executive board which is elected by the general assembly. They will meet much more frequently and because they work together with working committee’s they can be much more flexible and effective.

  • Doesn’t this just give an advantage to the older, more established affiliates such as those in Europe? How do we assure everyone has a voice on the Global Assembly?

The composition of the Global Assembly should be structured in ways that provide equal representation of the diverse groups of the movement: Affiliates - Communities; Chapters - Thorgs, User Groups; Small language projects - large language projects etc.

  • Isn't democracy flawed?

Democracy is not majority voting only, but a combination of practices that assure participation, deliberation and equitable decision-making. The Global Assembly is just one aspect of how we co-govern the movement. Communities and affiliates will maintain their ways of decision-making (subsidiarity!).  The Global Assembly’s bylaws would spell out how it votes. Here we can go beyond simple majority votes, depending on what is being decided.

  • What size is the general assembly?

That depends on how granular we want to be in terms of representation of groups, affiliates, demographics and geographies. Somewhere between 100 and 200 members seems likely.

  • Isn't this going to be too expensive to have a general assembly meet once a year?

As a Wikimedia movement we already spend a lot of resources on meetings worldwide. But we don’t really make decisions at any of them….We can be creative on how we set this up (combine/replace the Wikimedia Summit for example). And we are also convinced that we, as a movement, can actually save a lot of time and resources by having a fair distribution of decision making and work being done. And not wasting donor funds on decisions that are not backed by our communities.

  • So would the Global Council be its own legal entity?

For all purposes (legal, functional, governance, operations) it would make sense to eventually incorporate as an international association in a location tbd.

    • Legal: in order to create written agreements with the WMF to regulate coordination and division of functions
    • Governance: to assure legitimacy and independence from the WMF
    • Operational: To be able to employ a small team of supporting staff
  • Is all this legally possible?

We are confident that it is possible to move towards this model and we know that the WMF legal department has offered to help think about the legal options that are available. The proposed model is actually the standard in most large similar movements and NGO confederations So it's not like we are proposing something radical here. The co-existence of several entities having complementing functions (such as WMF and an international Wikimedia Secretariat would be) is also not unusual, and can be spelled out in contractual agreements.

  • But we are different from all the other movements.

Which is a belief we have in common with all other movements. In fact, we have a lot in common with other movements in terms of the people, the mission, and being a conglomeration of organizations and communities. We are different in that we have a large central organization. Most international association secretariats have much more limited functions and less staff. And they are governed by their stakeholders.

  • How is the GC funded?

The activities of the Global Council are financed by the Wikimedia movement. A formula can be developed that diverts the necessary amount for its operation from the income of fundraising members. This is standard practice in other international NGO federations. It also creates accountability of the international entity towards its members and keeps it lean.

  • Within this model would the Wikimedia Foundation retain its role as the host organisation for Wikimedia projects and the owner of related trademarks ?

We do not have an answer to this at this time. However it does not need to impact the design of this governance model. Some ideas below under the next question.

  • What is the relationship between the WMF and the new entity?

We acknowledge that the WMF currently holds crucial roles and responsibilities. A future model must be designed to manage risks while more equitably distributing power and decision-making. A clear division of decision making between the two entities would have to be detailed in the by-laws of the Wikimedia Global Council and in a legal agreement between both parties.  

The following steps could possibly be taken, and are to be discussed and developed through external legal consultation:

  1. Structure the charter/by-laws of the Global Council so that the WMF has a permanent seat on the global board + voting rights a vote in at the global assembly.
  2. Assure WMF has veto rights on agreed upon subjects that would impact its legal situation and operation. These could include trademarks, site policies and others.
  3. Eventually over time, and after evaluating risks,  some of the legal responsibilities could be transferred to the WM Global Council.

  • This sounds like a great idea, can we start tomorrow?

Because this is a fundamental shift from the current situation it cannot happen overnight. It is likely that we will have to move towards this scenario in several stages. These could be (after the charter spells out the initial composition and basic selection/election rules of the GA)

  1. election and selection of delegates
  2. creation of legal agreements
  3. first general assembly
  4. setting up of committees
  5. hiring of staff (contracted through another affiliate for starters)
  6. by-laws and incorporation

  • What do these terms mean?

Global Assembly (GA)

the highest governing body that decides on policy, budget and strategy


standing and ad-hoc committees that prepare decisions for the GA, assuring the appropriate participation of affected parties (this could include future versions of Affcom, regional funding committees and others)

Global Board

elected by the GA to take care of intermittent business and oversee the work of the committees


people in the GA who are either selected or elected by their communities, by the affiliates, as well as potentially a set co-opted people to represent other parties from the knowledge ecosystem


a small group of staff, paid by the association that support the work of committees, meetings, global assembly etc.



This governance model is based in part on standard practice in international confederated movements/organizations, such as:

  • Oxfam (link)
  • Greenpeace international (link)
  • Amnesty International (link)
  • Organisation internationale de la francophonie
  • Medecins Sans Frontieres (link)