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UM Congresses

The tri-annual Unitas meeting: past and future, where and when.

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A short chronicle of UM-Congresses

UNITAS MALACOLOGICA was born on 21 September, 1962 at the final plenary meeting of the first European Malacological Congress in London. Though the idea of an European malacological organisation dates back to 1935, it was not until 1959, at the 25th Anniversary of the Malacological Society in Amsterdam, that a group of distinguished malacologists from various European countries formulated the ides that there should be a common European malacological meeting. On the 8th November in the following year (1960), a committe of six British scientists began to organise and prepared the first European Malacological Congress, to be held in London at the British Museum, 17-21 September 1962. Even before the start of that Comgress (which had 125 participants from 20 countries), the suggestion for the formation of an European Malacological Union was being discussed. The idea took more concrete form by the formation of a small committee convened to draw up a set of proposals and an outline constitution. Although this draft constitution was only in English (and not also in French and German, the two other official languages of Congress), this draft was accepted by an overwhelming majority of the plenum in the final meeting and the UNITAS MALACOLOGICA EUROPAEA had been born.

Acceptance of the Constitution of the Union was followed by the election of a council comprising a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, an additional member and two auditors) and the more precise elaboration of rules. These included rules concerning membership, the significance of General Assemblies, the election and duties of the Council, etc. It was proposed that Congresses should be organised, if possible, every three years and that UNITAS matters (rules and congresses) could be issued in the three official languages English, French and German. Switzerland was made the legal domicile of the Union (later to be restricted to Basel/Bâle/Basle; until 2000).

At subsequent General Assemblies, several rule changes were approved. In 1977 (Amsterdam) the Union was renamed UNITAS MALACOLOGICA (losing "Europaea"). The number of council members was fixed at nine members (President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer; two retained councilors and two newly elected councilors; and the retiring President as ex-officio member); in 2001 (Vienna) it is proposed to restrict the number to eight members (the Vice-President to be the retiring President).

In 1989 (Tübingen), the official language of UNITAS MALACOLOGICA was restricted to English (abandoning French and German) following the vote of non-English speaking members of 63 against 17.

Following earlier discussions in 1993 (Siena), in 1995 (Vigo) it was decided to hold the subsequent congress (in 1998) outside Europe for the first time. Held in connection with the 64th annual meeting of the American Malacological Union (AMU) and the 31st annual meeting of the Western Society of Malacologists (USA), this 13th Congress of UM in Washington thus became the first "World" Congress of Malacology.

The UM Congresses

1st London (GB), 17-21 September 1962; Chairman of Committee: L.R. Cox; separate Proceedings, London (Conchol.Soc. GB & Ireland and Malacol.Soc. London; L.R.Cox & J.F.Peake eds.), 1965.

2nd Kobenhavn/Copenhagen (DK), 10-14 August 1965; President: Henning Lemche; Proceedings in Malacologia 5(1), 1966.

3rd Wien/Vienna (A), 2-6 September 1968; President: Oliver Paget; Proceedings in Malacologia 9(1), 1969.

4th Genève/Geneva (CH), 7-11 September 1971; President: Eugène Binder; Proceedings in Malacologia 14(1-2), 1973.

5th Milano/Milan (I), 3-7 September 1974; President: Ferdinando Toffoletto; Proceedings in Malacologia 16(1), 1977.

6th Amsterdam (NL), 15-20 August 1977; President: A.C. van Bruggen; Proceedings in Malacologia 18(1-2), 1979.

7th Perpignan-Banyuls (F), 31 August - 7 September 1980; President: Jean M. Gaillard; Abtracts in Haliotis 10(2), 1980; Proceedings in Malacologia 22(1-2), 1982 (Symposium on Evolution in Malacologia 21(1-2), 1981).

8th Budapest (H), 28 August - 4 September 1983; President: László Pintér; separate Proceedings (Hungar.Nat.Hist.Mus., Budapest; L.Pintér ed.), 1986.

9th Edinburgh (GB), 31 August - 6 September 1986; President: David Heppell; Proceedings in Malacologia 32(2), 1991, and in separate Proceedings of UM, Leiden (E.Gittenberger & J.Goud eds), 1992 (Symposium on the Bivalvia, Hong Kong Univ. Press (B.Morton ed.), 1990; Symposium on Endangered species, Occasional Papers IUCN Species Survival Comm. 9 (E.A.Kay ed.), 1995).
10th Tübingen (D), 27 August - 2 September 1989; President: Claus Meier-Brook; separate Proceedings of UM, Tübingen (C.Meier-Brook ed.), 1992 (Symposium on Biology and Evolution of toxoglossan Gastropods in Malacologia 32, 1990).

11th Siena (I), 30 August - 5 September 1992; President: Folco Giusti di Massa; Abstract volume (Symposium on Systematics and Ecology of Opisthobranchs in Bolletino Malacologico 29, 1993).

12th Vigo (E), 3-8 September 1995; President: Angel Guerra; Abstract volume (Symposium on Molluscan Phylogeny in Journal of Molluscan Studies 63, 1997).

13th Washington (USA), 25-30 July 1998; President: Rüdiger Bieler; Abstract volume.

14th Wien/Vienna (A), 19-26 August 2001; President: Luitfried Salvini-Plawen; Abstract volume.

15th The forthcoming congress in 2004 is proposed to be held in Perth (AUS); President: Fred Wells.

L.Salvini-Plawen/Peter Mordan