[Taxacom] Call for proxy votes for the forthcoming International Botanical Congress

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at freeler.nl
Tue Jul 12 05:14:56 CDT 2011

I was still thinking on the importance attached by some to the Report
of the General Committee and how untraditional this was.
What resurfaced in my memory was the case of Colophospermum
(prop. 1372) as a suitable example. The Vienna Congress accepted
Colophospermum as a conserved name, although at that time neither
the relevant permanent Committee nor the General Committee had
published a positive recommendation (these appeared in print about
half a year and a year, respectively, after the Vienna Congress).
I remember speaking afterwards to some  of the specialists on
Colophospermum and noticed how unaware they were that there
had been any forward motion whatsoever in the case.

The report of the General Committe on Colophospermum is also
the one that reports on Acacia, and the following quote is illuminating:
    "Copies of a draft of this General Committee report were
     distributed to the members of the Nomenclature Section in
     Vienna, who reviewed it, and accepted its recommendations,
     ..."                    (Taxon 55: 795. 2006)

So, technically, at the time of the Vienna Congress there was no Report
of the General Committee, but only a "draft of a report". This
emphasizes (again) that any reasoning to support a deviating procedure
based on Art. 14.14 must be in error, as Art. 14.14 comes into operation
only after a report of the General Committee has been (effectively)
published (just as Rec. 14A.1 comes into operation only after a proposal
has been published). After all, how is an 'author' otherwise to know:
the Code does not assume 'authors' to be telepathic, or omniscient!

In the same report there is another good example of how the
Nomenclature Section deals with substance rather than empty formality.
The Report of the General Committee (and the draft report) contained,
essentially, a recommendation to conserve Guaiacum, (prop. 1532)
with that particular spelling. However, strictly speaking, both the draft
report and the final report recommend conserving a misspelling (namely
 "Guiacum"). No doubt those who like to be very formal will be relieved
to see that the Vienna Code nevertheless includes the correct conserved
spelling, disregarding the mere "Report of the General Committee"
(and the draft report).

Having said all that, it was not particularly happy that the Vienna Congress
had to deal with conservation (etc) proposals on the basis of an
unpublished draft report, which contained some recommendations that
were unpublished in any form. How is the botanical community supposed
to perform its function of checking and approving these recommendations
if only those who are actually present at the Congress (and who can take
the time to read the draft report carefully) are in a position to even know
that these recommendations exist? And the Melbourne Congress is in no
better position, as no General Committee report has been published.


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