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Americans set to desert UIA due to 'organisation flaws'

The International Union of Architects (UIA) could face financial ruin if the American Institute of Architects (AIA) acts on its threat to pull out of the international forum.

AIA representative and past president Ron Altoon issued the threats at the UIA's last council meeting, demanding that the body reform its electoral and financial processes. Altoon warned that the Americans will cease payment to the organisation as a way of encouraging it to restructure. Such a move would leave the UIA in a cash-flow crisis since the AIA is by far its biggest contributor.

The AIA is understood to be particularly upset with a new funding arrangement passed at the Berlin Convention that has seen its share of the contributions grow even further.

RIBA vice-president of international affairs John Wright was present at the council meeting in Berlin on 30 July. 'The Americans have scheduled a special general meeting for the end of September to discuss the problems they see with the UIA and to discuss pulling out altogether, ' he said.

'They have already warned that it will stop paying its dues as a way of focusing the UIA's attention in the meantime, 'Wright added. 'If this does happen, then it would be in big trouble. The UIA probably could not survive without the American economic power-house.'

A representative from the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, Peter Hannah, was also present. 'The AIA expressed strong concern about the way the convention had been organised and the whole of the regime's management, ' he said. 'Unless they see positive steps made to reform the organisation and restructure the set-up of the funding processes then they have threatened to take measures to force change or leave, 'Hannah added.

RIBA president Paul Hyett said he understood that the Americans are 'frustrated' with the way the UIA has organised itself recently. However, he warned that the AIA would be 'mad to pull out'.

'If they did leave they would lose all their influence and the massive commercial advantages that come with membership, 'Hyett added.

The UIA is responsible for the administration of international competitions and is currently in negotiations with the World Trade Organisation on the issue of freedom of trade.

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