1933-08-12 relationship of NSA & Nat’l Conv
USBN #79 November 1933 p9010
The Guardian wishes the N.S.A. to remind, and make it quite clear to, the believers in that land that the supreme body in the United States and Canada, whose privilege and function is to lay down, amend and abrogate the administrative principles of the Faith with the approval of the Guardian, is not the Convention, however representative it may be, but the N.S.A. On the other hand, it is the sacred obligation and the primary function of the National Assembly not to restrict under any circumstances, the freedom of the assembled delegates, whose twofold function is to elect their national representatives and to submit to them any recommendations they may feel inclined to make. The function of the Convention is purely advisory and though the advice it gives is not binding in its effect on those on whom rest the final decision in purely administrative matters, yet, the utmost caution and care should be exercised lest anything should hamper the delegates in the full and free exercise of their function. In discharging this sacred function no influence whatever, no pressure from any quarter, even though it be from the National Assembly, should under any circumstances affect their views or restrict their freedom. The delegates must be wholly independent of any administrative agency, must approach their task with absolute detachment and must concentrate their attention on the most important and pressing issues.
The Guardian believes that the right to elect the chairman and the secretary of the Convention should be vested in the assembled delegates, lest any objection be raised that the members of the outgoing National Assembly are seeking to direct the course of the discussion in a manner that would be conductive to their own personal interests. The National Assembly, however, must at all times vigilantly uphold, defend, justify and enforce the provisions of the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws which are binding on the Convention no less than on themselves. The N.S.A. has the right to lay down, enforce and interpret the National Constitution of the Baha'is in that land. It cannot, if it wishes to remain faithful to that Constitution, lay down any regulations, however secondary in character, that would in the least hamper the unrestricted liberty of the delegates to advise and elect those whom they feel best combine the necessary qualifications for membership of so exalted a body.
Non-delegates, however, according to the Guardian's considered opinion, should not be given the right to intervene directly during the sessions of the Convention. Only through an accredited delegate they should be given indirectly the chance to voice their sentiments and to participate in the deliberations of the Convention. Much confusion and complications must inevitably result in the days to come, if such a restriction be not imposed on a gathering which is primarily intended for the accredited delegates of the Baha'i communities. Bearing this restriction in mind, it is the duty of the N.S.A. to devise ways and means which would enable them to obtain valuable suggestions, not only from the total number of the elected delegates, but from as large a body of their fellow-workers as is humanly possible.
Shoghi Effendi has not departed from any established Administrative principle. He feels he has neither curtailed the legislative authority of the N.S.A. nor invested the Convention with undue powers enabling it to rival or supersede those whom it has to elect. What the Guardian is aiming at is to remind the friends, more fully than before, of the two cardinal principles of Baha'i Administration, namely, the supreme and unchalleng[e]able authority of the N.S.A. in national affairs working within the limits imposed by the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws, and the untrammelled freedom of the Convention delegates to advise, deliberate on the actions, and appoint the successors of their National Assembly. The Guardian is confident that you will elucidate and give the widest publicity to these already established principles, upon which the progress, the unity and welfare of Baha'i administrative institutions must ultimately depend.-
The utmost care and vigilance should be exercised lest any fresh misunderstandings arise regarding these fundamental issues. The root principle of Baha'i Administration is unreservedly maintained. No departure from its established tenets is contemplated. The undisputed authority of America's supreme Baha'i administrative body has been reaffirmed, while on the other hand, the untrammelled freedom of individual believers and delegates to exercise their functions has been once again reaffirmed and strengthened. On the continuous and harmonious cooperation of the two leading Baha'i institutions in America, the growth and success of the administration bequeathed by Abdu'l-Baha must ultimately depend. May next year's Convention witness the triumph of these basic principles.
(the Guardian's postscript to the foregoing letter).