After the serious crisis opened in Cochrane by the expulsion of Peter C. Gøtzsche and the resignation of four members of the Governing Board comes this proposal from people in the critical environment of the organization.
State of play: proposals for Annual General Meeting and strategy for a regeneration of Cochrane.
1. There is significant concern and discomfort with recent developments in Cochrane both in the Cochrane community and in related ambiences of independent medical and public health. This concern, discomfort and criticism must be addressed.
2. The false “peace” and “calm” of maintaining the status quo. The present Cochrane leadership attempts to use the argument of “statutory legality”, “returning the calm” and “pacifying the situation” to justify the continuation of the remaining members of the Board. The is a typical response by the leadership of an organization after taking unjustified decisions and after losing credit in the eyes of its membership and the general public. The peace and calm the speak of one of continuing the status quo without any evaluation of mistakes nor changes is the way of operating. What is much more important than procedural justifications is the democratic regeneration of Cochrane in accordance with its original principles and objectives.
3. The “independent review” did not find that Gotzsche has violated the spokesperson policy. The co-chairs communication speaks of an “independent review” was carried out when it was a legal counsel chosen, hired and paid for by the Cochrane leadership that had no knowledge of the objectives, academic/scientific contexts and public health objectives of the organization to be able to evaluate the some of the events that have sparked this conflict. 5 members of the Board did not approve of the usefulness of hiring this Counsel. The Counsel simply gave their opinion and personal impressions on what was written to them and evaluated the character of the people they interviewed, almost all referring to personal and even psychological behaviour taken outside of any professional context about who said this about whom based on personal interviews and a few written submissions. No recommendations were made by this Counsel to discipline Peter Gotzsche nor was he found to have violated the spokesperson policy which was the main accusation made against him by the Cochrane leadership. The expulsion of Peter was not concretely justified by the Counsel´s opinion but by the Board´s co-chairs in a very generic, general manner by his “behaviour” that hurt the image of Cochrane. This disproportionate action has hurt the organization much more that any “inconvenient” behaviour by Peter Gotzsche.
4. Lack of credibility, democratic legitimacy and capacity to continue governing Cochrane. Now the Cochrane leadership wants to continue governing the organization as if nothing has happened with the support of Central Executive Team while promising to fill the vacant posts on the Board “soon”. In the present situation of declining reputation, eroding public confidence and a lack of democratic legitimacy the remaining members of the Board must all step down and convene immediate elections to elect a totally renovated Board.
5. The Annual General Meeting must address this crisis and offer solutions for the democratic and strategic regeneration of Cochrane. The chair and the agenda must respond to the situation of crisis. In order to have a fruitful and fair meeting the chair chosen to preside the AGM must not be anyone connected with the present Cochrane leadership or executive team. A resolution should be presented that immediately dissolves the present Board and calls for new elections to be held within 60-90 days. At the AGM a provisional Board will be elected with the job of organizing fair elections, proposing possible changes to the statutes and directing a broad participatory debate within the membership on the future of the organization.
Image by courtesy of Ignacio Rosell