On 11th September, 1996, The International League of Religious Socialists (ILRS) was adopted unanimously as an Associate member organisation of The Socialist International (SI) at their XX Congress.
ILRS has now "the right to speak, but not to vote", just as many other, not full members of the SI. Only political parties can be members.
ILRS was the only organisation at the Congress which received the status of Associate membership, but there are nine other Associate members, including the Party of European Socialists (PES) and Asia-Pacific Organisation (APSO).
The SI has now 140 full members, 30 of them adopted at this Congress. There are others, called Consultative Parties - around 20 - and Observer Parties - around 15 and at least 3 Fraternal Organisations, as International Union of Socialist Youth-IUSY and also Socialist International Women-SIW.
ILRS will now be invited to SI meetings and receive information from SI.
Due to the appointment the ILRS was invited to attend the Congress in New York as guests.
During the three days we had many interesting contacts with several delegates from all over the world. It is quite obvious that our organisation is needed as a bridge between democratic socialists/social democrats/labour on the one hand and religion on the other.
During the last day - after we were adopted as members - we produced a short, very short, presentation of ILRS.
When talking to friends in other parties we also handed over our preliminary program for the next ILRS Congress and seminar in Helsinki, Finland, 1-4 August, 1997, on the theme "The Price of Freedom and the Cost of Poverty."
We told them that we want them to participate, and we will keep in touch with many of them in future.
During our talk to each other we decided to create a newsletter by network, e-mail and fax. Andrew Hammer promised to co-ordinate and execute the work. Quite many years ago ILRS decided to have a quarterly newsletter, but unfortunately it has not been possible to do this. We now go - as I hope - from words to action in this matter.
Chris Herries, UK, is the newly appointed Secretary General. Ab Engelsman, The Netherlands, is still Treasurer. We shall revert to how to organise this geographically disparate Board, but with the new types of communications: fax, e-mail and internet, I hope that it will be possible to have more frequent contact.
Once again, we are happy to be members of the SI, and therefore we urge our members to do their best to maintain good contact with the socialist/social democratic/labour parties in their own countries.
25 Sept. 1996