V2 Constitution and Executive Summary of Governing Bodies

NEAR Constitution V2:

Preamble

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 to crypto, 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 judgment 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.

Article 1: NEAR Digital Collective (NDC)

The NDC governs the Community Treasury for transparent and collective fund distribution to develop, grow and sustain the ecosystem.

Article 2: Governance Bodies

The Governance Bodies (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.

All ecosystem wide funding proposals utilizing funds from the community treasury or the NEAR Foundation, require approval or passage from the respective Governance bodies. In the case of the NF, the foundation proposes directly to the House of Merit (Amendment II, Section I) from which an allocation proposal is either confirmed or rejected.

Article 3: Voting Body

The Voting Body is the NEAR Ecosystem general assembly, required 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 governance bodies. At such a time, the Governance 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 Governance 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: The Governance Bodies

Each governance 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.

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

Each governance body is responsible for filling vacancies as they happen by issuing a vote to fill the vacancy, during the proceeding electoral cycle.

Each governance 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, and broadly 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.

All funding from either the community treasury or the NEAR Foundation Treasury, must be approved by the democratically elected members of the HoM in order for it to be properly allocated. These proposals are subjected equally to the same checks and balances for all proposals, as handled by the governance bodies.

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, via formal investigation.

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 and modulate 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 Governance Body activities. They are formally tasked with investigating and removing malicious or incompetent actors from the governance bodies.

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 setup package vote by the Governance Body to develop the NEAR Ecosystem.

To guarantee adequate management of the Treasury, the Governance Bodies are 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.

Section 6: The Voting Body

The voting body as referenced in Article 3, refers to any human with a NEAR account. The voting body is formally and exclusively entitled to elect all members of the relevant Governance bodies, on a recurring basis. Furthermore, the voting body is entitled to veto any recurring or ‘big’ ticket budgetary actions taken by the House of Merit, as defined in the congressional setup package.

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.


Executive Summary: The NDC Constitution and Governing Bodies

Executive Summary of the Constitution:

The NEAR Constitution is a high level reference document to the underlying governance thesis for the NEAR Ecosystem. It focuses on three key institutions in the NEAR Ecosystem, and how they interact: (1) The Governance Body, (2) The Voting Body, and (3) The Community Treasury, all encompassed by the broader concept of the NEAR Digital Collective (NDC). These areas are all closely related: The community treasury is managed and allocated by the governing bodies, and the governing bodies are elected and maintained by the voting body.

The governing bodies (Amendment II), refers to the three democratically elected platforms in charge of managing the treasury on a day to day basis: (1) The House of Merit, in charge of allocating the treasury in line with the agreed upon budget, (2) The Council of Advisors, in charge of guiding and blocking decisions from the HoM, and (3) the Transparency Commission, in charge of investing malicious actors and determining eligibility for elections.

Beyond explaining these high level functions of the governing bodies, the Constitution further explains the role of the voting body and community treasury in relation to the governing bodies:

The voting body - refers to any human with a NEAR account. This collective is granted power in the constitution to elect all members of the governing bodies, on a recurring basis. The voting body also has the option to propose to veto any recurring budget or big ticket item, officially passed by the House of Merit.

The community treasury, meanwhile, is the primary subject of the NDC: Its proper management and allocation into the NEAR ecosystem, is the entire basis for the governing bodies in the first place!

Altogether the Constitution enshrines the function and purpose of each institution into the NEAR digital collective, and serves as a reference point for the underlying values and objectives that are designed to guide the NEAR Ecosystem in the coming decades.

Executive Summary of the House of Merit:

The House of Merit (HoM), is the largest governance body of the NDC with 15 members. Each HoM congress is responsible for defining the parameters for handling the community treasury for that Congressional Cycle (known as the Setup Package), and then strategically allocating that treasury to different DAOs inside of the ecosystem. With this power, the HoM is the primary institution responsible for investing the community treasury in a manner that benefits the growth of the NEAR Ecosystem.

In order to achieve this mandate, the HoM is elected for two year terms, while serving in the House requires one year of prior experience in the ecosystem. The expectation of HoM members is to work closely on a weekly basis, to pass proposals handling budget management and deployment with agility and attentiveness to the needs of the ecosystem. Notably, all proposals that allocate budget are done in ‘tranches’ such that the value is distributed out over time, and not all at once. This is important insofar as it gives the Voting Body, and the Council of Advisors sufficient time to block any damaging proposal.

Executive Summary of the Council of Advisors:

The Council of Advisors is the second governance body - tasked with managing the HoM. This management is twofold: On the one hand, the CoA is delegated to recommend and support the the strategic initiatives of the HoM via evaluation and priority defining. On the other hand, the CoA has the power to block (1) The initial setup package proposed by the HoM and passed at the start of each congress, as well as (2) Any proposal passed by the HoM - once the setup package has been approved. When a proposal is blocked the Council of Advisors requires two votes - one month apart - in order to nullify the proposal. Because all proposals are tranched and milestone based, this provides a safeguard from which the CoA can halt ongoing initiatives if they are deemed unproductive or problematic in their eyes.

The CoA is comprised of seven members, each elected for two years. These seven members meet monthly to veto proposals from the HoM and publicly share the priorities of the Ecosystem as well as any evaluation of the HoM’s performance.

Executive Summary of the Transparency Commission:

The third and final governance body of the NDC is known as the Transparency Commission. This five person council is in charge of maintaining the integrity of the different Governance Bodies through two primary responsibilities: (1) To veto potential candidates prior to election to ensure they qualify to serve in a governance body and do not suffer from any major conflict of interest, (2) To investigate, remove, and ban serving members of a governance body in the event of a conflict of interest, malicious behavior, or absence. These powers apply to the members of the Transparency Commission itself.

The TC meets as frequently as need be, to investigate complaints put forward from any member of the NDC or the more general voting body. Members of the TC serve two year terms, and require one and a half years of experience in the NEAR Ecosystem in order to be eligible to serve.

Executive Summary of the Voting Body:

The Voting Body is the NEAR community writ large. It specifically refers to any human with a NEAR account, wishing to participate in ecosystem governance. The Voting Body is granted two primary responsibilities in the Constitution:

To elect all members of the different governance bodies on a recurring basis. In this sense, there is no pre-selection of any member for any governance body: Every single member serving in a governing body, must be elected by the voting body.

To veto recurring budget items, or ‘big-ticket’ budget items passed by the HoM. There is some important context here: At the beginning of each congress, HoM proposes a ‘setup’ package that is checked by the Council of Advisors. Inside this package are the thresholds for what constitutes a ‘recurring budget item’ as well as a ‘big ticket’ item. The voting body has a right, in every congress, to veto both of these items at any time they can muster sufficient voting support.

With these two responsibilities, the voting body can effectively delegate responsibility for management of the Community Treasury to the Governing Bodies.

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Super work, @Ozymandius!

There’s a bit of a hiccup here, I think:

It reads almost like we seek to reduce accessibility. Nothing a little edit won’t set straight.

Great work, again!

Cheers.

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@Ozymandius was just reviewing the V2 and was curious about the election terms and process.

-How many votes do you need from a voting body to be elected to enter a governing body?
-How long are the terms?
-How often can you reapply or renew your terms?

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Good questions!

Details on terms limits per house are outlined here: NEAR Governance Framework: To Freeze - Google Slides

Right now we are focusing on getting the process down for the first congress.

Here is what has been frozen in:

→ 3 Houses, 29 Seats Total (15 from HoM , and 7 each from CoA and TC)

→ Elections held with windows to declare candidacy.

→ Stake weighted voting determines winners, and winners run all together (so top 15 names are seated in HoM, and so forth).

→ Congressional period is set for 2 years, unless the congress decides to modify this once they start their first term.

→ Next elections would be held in 2 years, whereby everyone would be eligible to run for re-election 1 time (total of 2 terms per person, each term being 2 years).

Specific election timelines under consideration can be found here: Election Process Spec - Google Docs

Happy to discuss any further questions !

@Ozymandius thx!!

Reviewing it all now.

NDC is interesting in terms of protocols decentralizing. I haven’t seen others take a similar approach yet

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Most recent updates found here:

Constitution V2: Constitution V2 (Prior to Ratification) - Google Docs

Governance Framework (4th Draft): NDC Governance Body Framework 1.4 - Google Docs

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