NEAR Constitution V1 [Feedback Requested!]

The NEAR Constitution V1 in a Tweet:

“The NEAR Constitution V1 represents the first step towards defining a structure for future Ecosystem-wide Governance on NEAR Protocol.”

Tldr:

This first draft of the constitution is a minimum viable product for iterations into the future. The original vision proposed for the governance framework of the NDC was set by Illia during his ETH CC speech in Paris. From this speech, we have initiated the process of realizing that vision: Whereby the NEAR Digital Collective comprises a House of Merit, a Council of Advisors, a Transparency Commission, and a larger ecosystem-wide voting body. Together these institutions monitor the NEAR Treasury and create the early rails for Ecosystem wide governance.

As we ship this V1, it is expected that feedback and discussion will clearly delimit the following areas of these institutions in later versions: Election Process, Term, Powers, and Representation, Impeachment Procedure, and Constitutional Amendments over time.

We welcome feedback and suggestions from anyone and everyone - keeping in mind that we are following @illia’s original vision, and are on the clock to ship this as efficiently and thoroughly as possible!

@Ozymandius , @blaze , @Dacha , @jlwaugh , @satojandro and Co.


NEAR Constitution V1:

Preamble

We the Community of the NEAR Ecosystem (Ecosystem), to form a decentralized Ecosystem, establish on-chain collective decision-making, ensure openness through transparency, provide for self-governance, promote the common good of the NEAR Ecosystem first, and secure the absolution of centralization from ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the NEAR Ecosystem.

Article 1: NEAR Digital Collective (NDC)

The NDC is a community-driven initiative to decentralize governance to the NEAR Ecosystem over time through evolving governance models approved by the Voting Body to enable collective decision-making, transparency through reporting, and self-governance.

Article 2: Governance Body

The Governance Body (see Amendment II) are the decision-making bodies elected to govern the Community Treasury (budgets) and strategic direction of NEAR Protocol as approved by the Voting Body for the growth, development, and sustainability of the Ecosystem.

Article 3: Voting Body

The Voting Body is the NEAR Ecosystem general assembly for elections, referendums, and voting comprised of every NEAR Account (account) designated as a voting account.

Article 4: Community Treasury

The Community Treasury has the purpose of providing grants that align with the strategic direction set by the Governance Body as approved by the Voting Body.

Article 5: Amendments

Formal Amendments to the Constitution are to be made only after the first elections are held for all governing bodies. At such a time, the Governing Bodies shall amend the amendment procedure for broader participation from the ecosystem.

Amendment I

Section 1: Freedom from Censorship

The Governance Body shall not infringe upon the rights of the individual or collective concerning freedom of speech or participation and must abide by the NEAR Manifesto when making any rules.

Section 2: Non-Infringement

The Governance Body shall not infringe upon the interests, decisions, and governance choices of dApps, protocols, and creative works built and operating within the NEAR Ecosystem.

Section 3: Non-Partiality

The Governance Body shall not display unfair advantage, preferential treatment, undue influence, or partiality to any specific project, entity or group (“nodes”).

Section 4: Ecosystem First

The Governance Body is to prioritize the success of the Near ecosystem above any individual’s interest. The NEAR ecosystem is a collective and as such, it is always treated as more important than any one person, regardless of their influence.

Section 5: Declaration of Conflict of Interest

Any individual or member participating in the Governing Body of the NDC is to disclose relevant conflicts of interest, prior to assuming their position in the governance structure.

Section 6: Transparent Decision-Making

Transparency is the key to establishing trust between all stakeholders, and as such the Governance bodies commit to a collaborative and transparent approach in all governance decisions, so as to drive accountability and foster trust.

Amendment II

Section 1: Governance Body

Each governing body will be responsible for organizing how they operate and handle its proceedings in alignment with approved governance models as approved by the Voting Body and in accordance with the NEAR Manifesto. They will have the right to remove their members for breaches of the code of conduct with a vote of two-thirds.

Each governing body is responsible for ensuring transparency by keeping a journal of its proceedings. Such proceedings must be routinely published by each governing body.

Each governing body is responsible for filling vacancies as they happen by issuing a vote to fill the vacancy.

Each governing body is responsible for choosing its speaker and other officers.

Section 2: House of Merit (HOM)

The House of Merit (HOM) is composed of experienced and committed Community members chosen for a term by the Voting Body representative of the different ecosystem nodes.

No person can be a representative unless they have one year or greater of experience and active participation in the NEAR Ecosystem.

Every node in the NEAR Ecosystem is represented by at least one representative and may have additional representatives based on the impact of the node on the entire NEAR Ecosystem.

Representatives are appointed to ensure the interest of nodes during elections, allocation decisions, and budgeting cycles.

HOM members can be removed and disqualified from their roles

Section 3: Council of Advisors (COA)

The Council of Advisors is composed of proven leaders and other influential contributors chosen for a term by the Voting Body.

No person can be an Advisor unless they have one year or greater of experience and active participation in the NEAR Ecosystem.

Advisors can be removed and disqualified from their role as a representative.

Advisors are appointed to advise the House of Merit on strategic direction and priorities in order to ensure budgetary alignment with the values and mission of the NEAR Ecosystem.

Section 4: Transparency Commission (TCO)

The Transparency Commission is composed of experienced and committed Community members chosen for a term by the Voting Body.

No person can be a member of the Transparency Commission unless they have one year or greater of experience in the NEAR Ecosystem.

TCO members can be removed and disqualified from their role as transparency officers.

A transparency commission is appointed to ensure checks and balances, transparency audits & reporting, and dispute resolution on Governing Body activities.

Section 5: Community Treasury

The House of Merit manages the Community Treasury with support from the Council of Advisors and checks from the Transparency Commission. Funds from the Community Treasury are to be deployed via an approved vote by the Voting Body to develop the NEAR Ecosystem.

To guarantee adequate management of the Treasury, the Governance Body is responsible for (1) Establishing safeguards against conflicts of interest, (2) providing a clear process such that the constitution and Governance Body can evolve over time (3) creating responsible Treasury management and risk mitigation, and (4) transparency of all operations. These four responsibilities are to be reflected in the operational structure of NEAR Ecosystem governance.

Nodes

Nodes are the collectives within the NEAR Ecosystem that can be amended through an approved Referendum by the Voting Body. Today, nodes are defined as: Users, Contributors, Developers, Validators, Founders, NEAR Foundation, Pagoda, Partners, and Backers. Maintenance of Ecosystem Nodes is to be set by recurring voting procedures to ensure activity and engagement.


Background

The NEAR Ecosystem has long requested and issued a call for a greater degree of transparency (openness) and self-governance. The call to action and assembly of the NEAR Digital Collective (NDC) is the collective NEAR Ecosystem (Ecosystem) response. The NDC is the “collective” representation of the NEAR Ecosystem (NEARVerse) as a governance node, represented and composed of nodes of users, contributors, validators, developers, projects, founders, partners, and backers. Collectively the NDC is focused on stewarding pragmatic decentralization that reflects and involves the full scope of our community.

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Would suggest maybe the constitution isn’t the first step towards defining structure, but certainly an important one for governing and coordinating interactions.

I think best way of providing comment on the constitution is to break things up into sections. So, today, I’m going to offer up some thoughts on the preamble backed by a little research and then offer an alternative preamble section that builds on what’s here, but goes a little further.

What is a Preamble?

There’s actually a practical guide to constitution building published by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). I also took a look at a number of constitutions that have been submitted to the Metagov project (most of which I didn’t find particularly useful) - but is clear there’s a wide variety/uniqueness that exists.

According to IDEA:

Preambles set out the purposes and aspirations of the constitutional text, expressing embraced norms, values and principles, often making reference to values developed throughout a country’s history…

In this context, let’s look at NEAR as a country with a history, albeit fairly short. NEAR has expressed values and objectives (a billion users, sustainability, openness, inclusivity, etc…), and this very community has guidelines that is developed over time, not to mention the manifesto that builds on them. In short, these things make up the founding principles that the NDC should build itself on.

To that end, may I suggest we build on the existing preamble with something like this:

Preamble v2

We, the totality of people making up the current and future community of the NEAR ecosystem, come together to help imagine, design, and usher in a more inclusive, open, and fair future by bringing Web 3 to the masses.

Proud of our commitment to sustainability, inclusivity, diversity, and positivity, we individually and collectively seek to learn, improve, and fail productively to ensure the ecosystem and community continually evolve in an environment that fosters an open-source community dedicated to innovation, active engagement, and mutual respect.

A community that puts the health and success of the ecosystem above any individual’s interest. One that always operates transparently, seeks to reduce complexity and accessibility reducing barriers to entry, and consistently shares knowledge while seeking pragmatism over perfection.

We embrace and espouse what makes NEAR unique while concurrently supporting and building up each other and a multi-chain future, collaborating with, and promoting chains and projects that are complementary and align with NEAR’s vision, values, and principles.

We found our community on a base of experimentation, incremental and iterative improvement constantly seeking and trying forms of governance that seek decentralization, be it political, administrative, fiscal, or market. Governance that clearly outlines accountabilities, responsibilities, and authorities (ARAs). Governance that pushes decision-making to the edge where those affected possess the most abundant, relevant and timely information and are trusted to use sound judgement to make decisions that align with strategic intent.

This constitution establishes the governance framework of the NEAR Digital Collective (NDC), built by the community, for the community made up of individuals who agree to align personal beliefs and values with those of the ecosystem. People who hold themselves to high standards as representatives and ambassadors of the ecosystem, who act in good faith for the good of NEAR and the community, encouraging action, contribution and involvement, embracing the ideals of open-source and being welcoming and helpful to all.

Thoughts?

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Where does Developer Governance play into the NDC Developer Governance – NEAR Protocol

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Would also like to see a more clear org chart accompanied with this. Is there a working document in which we can edit?


Illia presented this image at NEARCON. It’s been updated with new concepts that have materialized as part of this process. Constellations of Nodes and Working Groups.

The NEAR Digital Collective (NDC) is comprised of constellations of nodes in specific verticals and segments in the NEAR Digital State.

The Governance Working Group (GWG), which is working on the constitution, governance framework and stake weighted voting is highlighted in yellow at the bottom.

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Please find a visual map of the current version of NDC as per NEAR constitution V1.

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^ Does the Voting Body decide how many representatives (votes) each node would have?

^ Are these all the nodes? 9 total?

The governance model based on the constitution is being drafted, so this is not fully defined. A natural progression would be for the Council of Advisors (COA) to advise the House of Merit (HOM) on the number of representatives per node.

As defined at this time, however, this is an open draft if you are aware of any missing, please feel free to suggest them. This definition of nodes does not contemplate verticals, so that could be an additional consideration; however, they can be organized under founders and developers as well.

Aaron, this looks great and is a more detailed approach to the preamble. One challenge the contributors to the governance process have seen in working to create the constitution is that the more words, the further the debate due to our human nature of focusing on nuances.

So a progression was to boil up the constitution to first principles. It brings the necessary governing bodies into being without leaving room for debate because they are or are not. The detail is, however, equally important.

So the question is, should the constitution provide background and necessary details to provide greater context, or is this best left as first principles and allow for summarizations and forms of further detail? In this case, your version of the preamble would be a fantastic prelude!

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