Servas International

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Servas International
Servas logo
Motto Open Doors for Peace and Friendship
Founded July 1949 by Bob Luitweiler in Askov, Denmark
Type Non-profit, Interest group
  • Global, settled in Switzerland, Zurich
Services hospitality among members, some meetings
Fields Peace, Travel, Friendship, Human rights
16,000 worldwide
Key people
President: Jonny Sågänger (Sweden); Vice President: Ann Greenhough (Britain); General Secretary: Jaime Alberto Romero (Colombia); Peace Secretary: Danielle Serres (France); Treasurer: Mirek Wasiliewski (Poland); Hostlist Coordinator: Arnoud Philippo (Netherlands)

Servas International is an international, non-governmental, multicultural hospitality association present in 128 countries and run mostly by volunteers. It was founded in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler and his friends as a peace movement. Servas International promotes world-peace by encouraging individual person-to-person contacts.

Servas means "to serve", in the sense of "serve peace", in the language Esperanto. The organization was originally called Peacebuilders.

It operates through a network of hosts around the world who are interested in opening their doors to travelers, and through open-minded travelers who want to know the countries they visit from within. Travelers and hosts are usually interviewed when they apply to join the organization according to branch (member country) practice; travelers write a self-introduction on a special form valid one year, that is shown to hosts upon arrival.

Servas International has consultative status as a non-governmental organization with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, currently with representation at many of the UN's hubs of activity.[1]

There are over 16,000 Servas 'open doors' scattered throughout almost every country in the world. Because having a conservative basis, Servas has not grown as most similar hospitality organizations born recently. 30 years ago, Servas had 8,000 members worldwide; it has just followed the general increase of population in each country. There are not official general statistics, but in Italy in 2007 the average age of members was 52 years old with a slight predominance of females.


Servas activities may vary depending on the country, but they mostly consist in hosting and traveling (or both). Unlike many other hospitality exchange networks, Servas requires that potential members be interviewed and approved.

Decisions on activities (like meetings, election of representatives, fees required) are taken within local, national or international assemblies or from an elected group of members. The 2006 General Assembly established a set of Financial Policies since updated, which provide the basis of annual audits, and which include procedures for preparing and reporting on expenditures, officer reports, and revenues through fees.

Contribution policy[edit]

All Servas employees work voluntarily. Nevertheless, there are still costs that need to be covered, e.g. printing of host lists, phone calls, postage, office material, etc. Furthermore, a part of the income is sent on to Servas International, in order to foster international contacts and to support the Servas representations that are in the process of being planned.

Servas Argentina
The individual fee (decided by the national committee) is AR$500 ($90) per year for new International Travelers and AR$250 (45) for travelers having more than a year as a host or Day host in the organization. Host lists have an also a cost of AR40 for each one ($8) non refundable.
Host and national travelers within the county are not subject to fees.

Servas Australia
Traveler fee for one year is AU$ 100. There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas Australia for specific information[2]

Servas Denmark
Traveler fee for one year is DKR 130. There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas Denmark for specific information[3]

Servas Brazil
Traveler fee for one year is Reais 120 (EUR 40) for "only travelers" and 60 (EUR 20) for "hosts". There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas Brazil for specific information[4]

Servas Britain
Traveler fee for one year is 25 to 35 Pounds ($34 to $48) Host membership fee in 12 Pounds ($18). There is s special Youth traveler fee in which cost 10 Pounds ($14). See the website of Servas Britain for specific information[5]

Servas Germany
Traveler fee for one year is EUR 20 ($26) Host membership fee is EUR 10 ($13). See the website of Servas Germany for specific information[6]

Servas Hungary
Traveler fee for one year is HUF 3000 ($12). Annual membership fee (for both travellers and host households) is HUF 1000 ($4).

Servas India
Traveler fee for one year is 600 Indian Rupee ($11). There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas India for specific information[7]

Servas Mexico
Traveler fee for the first year is MX$ 300 ($24) and MX$ 100 ($8)for the following years. Host membership fee in MX$ 350 ($28). See the website of Servas Mexico for specific information[8]

Servas Norway
Traveler fee for one year is CR$ 200 ($38 to $53) There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas Norway for specific information[9]

Servas Russia
Traveler fee for one year is 1500 rubles ($50). There is no membership fee[10]

Servas Spain
Traveler fee for one year is EUR 18 ($23). Host membership fee is EUR 13 ($17). See the website of Servas Spain for specific information[11]

Servas Sweden
Traveler fee for one year is CR$ 400 ($60) but hosts pays CR$ 300 ($45). Host membership fee in CR$ 100 ($15). See the website of Servas Sweden for specific information[12]

Servas Switzerland
The annual fee of CHF 30 ($32) per host family includes documents to travel for all members of the host family. Lists are given out upon request only. They are valid for 1 year from the date of delivery. For the lists, a deposit of Fr. 100.-- needs to be paid. Non Servas Hosts travelling up to 12 months should pay a contribution of CHF 80 per person + CHF 100 as a refundable deposit for the Host Lists. See the website of Servas Switzerland for specific information[13]

Servas Turkey
Traveler fee for one year is about $20[14] A membership fee ($33) is required only for new members, there is no annual fee.

Servas United States
The most common activity in the U.S. branch is the Domestic and the International Travel. The individual fee (decided by the national committee) is for the Domestic Travellers $50 per year (or $25 for college students), and $85 per year for International Travelers. Within the travellers yearly membership, there is no limit to the number of trips even in different countries one can make. Members schedule their own trips and pay for their own travel expenses.
Host are not subject to fees, a $40 donation is only suggested (see official site [1] for more programs information).

Officially Registered Servas countries[edit]

  • Servas Italy
  • Servas Germany
  • Servas Netherlands
  • Servas Poland
  • Servas Switzerland
  • Servas USA
  • Servas France
  • Servas Spain
  • Servas Sri Lanka
  • Servas Hungary
  • Servas Canada

Servas International organisation[edit]

SERVAS MEMBERS from Member countries are represented by their respective National Committees at SI General Assembly

  • General Assembly
    • Servas Branches
    • Executive Committee (President, General Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President, Peace Secretary, Host List Coordinator)
      • Officers reporting to EXCO:
        • Archivist
        • Newsletter Editor
      • Committees reporting to EXCO:
        • Development Fund committee
        • Statutes and Job Description committee
        • Area coordinators
        • Youth Committee
        • Conflict Resolution Committee
      • Committees reporting to General Assembly:
        • Audit Committee
        • Information Communication Team
        • Nomination Committee

Servas International - Statutes (amended at the GA2012)[edit]

SERVAS INTERNATIONAL, a non-profit federation incorporated under Articles 60 to 79 of the Civil Code of Switzerland, and in conformity with Swiss Law, with legal seat currently at Ceresstrasse 23, CH 8008 Zurich, Switzerland, hereby adopts the following statutes, repealing all previously adopted statutes:

I Definition

Servas International is an international, non-profit, non-governmental federation of national Servas groups, encompassing an international network of hosts and travelers. The purpose of the network is to help build world peace, goodwill and understanding by providing opportunities for personal contacts among people of different cultures, backgrounds and nationalities.

II Membership

1. Any National Servas group containing ten or more hosts (including day hosts), may become, or be reinstated as, a member group of Servas International by a majority vote of the General Assembly. A group may be proposed for membership by

a. direct application by the group; or

b. recommendation from a Servas International Area Coordinator; or

c. invitation from the General Assembly.

2. The obligations of a member group to Servas International consist of, and are limited to, paying fees and of following the regulations and procedures as decided by the General Assembly according to Section IV, 3f of the statutes.

3. A member group may lose its membership of Servas International by majority vote of the General Assembly if

a. it has been without a functioning national secretary for two consecutive years; or

b. it has fewer hosts than in subsection 1) above for two consecutive years; or

c. it does not fulfill its obligations for two consecutive years.

III Officers

Servas International shall have at least 6 and no more than 25 officers. Six of these officers shall be elected by the General Assembly: President, Vice President, General Secretary, Treasurer, Peace Secretary and Host List Coordinator. These officers constitute the Executive Committee. The SI News Editor and a youth Leadership Committee of three to five individuals from at least three different continents shall also be elected by the General Assembly. Each of the remaining may be elected or appointed by the General Assembly, or appointed by the Executive Committee, as determined by the General Assembly. The term of office for all officers ends no later than three months after a General Assembly.

IV General Assembly

1. The General Assembly of Servas International shall consist exclusively of one delegate from each member group. These delegates have the right to vote and to speak. The officers of Servas International have speaking rights only. The General Assembly may also grant speaking rights (which may be restricted to specified agenda items) to other individuals.

2. The General Assembly shall meet as regular intervals as decided by each General Assembly. In addition to this, the General Assembly may be convened at any time when requested by one fifth of member groups. In such an event, at least three months’ written notice, including agenda, time and place, must be given to each member group. Page One

3. The General Assembly shall:

a. review and adopt the minutes of the last General Assembly as published or corrected;

b. review and vote on reports of Servas International’s office holders;

c. review and vote on the audited accounts and the auditor’s reports;

d. decide upon the program of activities of Servas International;

e. adopt a budget showing projected expenditure up to the next General Assembly;

f. decide upon fees, regulations and procedures of Servas International;

g. elect the Executive Committee;

h. elect other Servas International officers, or delegate this responsibility to the Executive Committee;

i. elect members of committees or working parties for special tasks deemed necessary by the General Assembly, or delegate this responsibility to the Executive Committee;

j. elect an auditor, or empower the Executive Committee to pay for independent professional auditing. The auditor shall verify, annually, the accounts of the Treasurer and shall submit a report to the Executive Committee. These reports shall be submitted for adoption to the next General Assembly;

k. determine which members of the Executive Committee shall be empowered to sign on behalf of Servas International. Two signatures shall be required.

4. An item may be submitted for inclusion on the agenda only by a national group (represented by its national secretary), or by members of the Executive Committee. All items submitted by member groups must be sent to the President at least six months before the General Assembly to be placed on the agenda of the coming General Assembly. Its expenditure is limited to the budget adopted by the General Assembly.

5. Decisions of the General Assembly, in addition to being recorded in the minutes of the meeting, shall be abstracted from the minutes and a list of such decisions sent to each national Servas group.

6. Decisions can be made only on items published in the agenda.

7. Decisions made by the General Assembly are binding on the activities and priorities of Servas International.

V Executive Committee

1.The Executive Committee is responsible for the day-to-day running of Servas International between one General Assembly and the next. Its decisions and actions should be in accordance with decisions made by the General Assembly. Its expenditure is limited to the budget adopted by the General Assembly.

2. The Executive Committee shall appoint those Servas officers who have not been elected by the General Assembly.

3. If the post of any officer becomes vacant between General Assemblies, the Executive Committee may appoint a replacement. If the vacancy is for a member of the Executive committee, other than the President, the remaining members may make the appointment.

4. Within financial limits, the Executive Committee shall meet as often as deemed necessary by the Executive Committee.

5. The Executive Committee is empowered to make decisions either

a. by a majority vote at a meeting of the Executive Committee; or

b. by correspondence, provided that all members of the Executive Committee are given the opportunity to participate in the decisions. For a decision to be made by correspondence, votes must be received within one month of the date the motion is mailed/faxed, and the majority of the votes received must be affirmative.

VI Voting at meetings

1. All decisions of the General Assembly or the Executive Committee (except votes on the dissolution of Servas International, or an amendment to, or replacement of, the statutes) shall be taken by majority vote of the persons voting. In the event of a tie, the President shall cast the deciding vote. Page Two

2. Voting procedure shall be made clear to all delegates before voting shall take place. Election for Servas officers shall be by secret vote. The right exists for any delegate to ask for a secret vote on any issue.

3. A delegate attending the General Assembly in more than one capacity shall have only one vote.

4. Only those delegates attending the General Assembly in person shall be permitted to vote.

5. If, in the election of the officers, there are more than two candidates for any position, and none of these receives more than half of the votes, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall stand in a further election in which all voters vote again.

6. If in the election of officers, there is only one candidate for any position, the candidate will automatically take office.

7. The voting process shall include three voting options for each motion, ¨support/yes¨, ¨against/no¨ and ¨abstain¨.¨Abstentions¨ shall not be counted as a vote for or against the motion, except as required in Section IX Dissolution and X Amendment of Statutes.

8. The minutes shall record the number of delegates voting for, voting against and abstaining.

VII Duties and Responsibilities of Officers

1. The President shall:

a. oversee the general operation of Servas International;

b. preside over all meetings of Servas International, or of the Executive Committee, or delegate this function to a suitable chairperson;

c. represent Servas on other international bodies or delegate this function to other suitable persons;

d. keep broadly informed about the work of Servas officers;

e. represent the interests of SI News Editor and Archivist in the Executive Committee;

f. be responsible for the organization of the International Conference/General Assembly;

g. be responsible for the agenda of the Executive Committee and the agenda of the General Assembly; and

h. perform any other functions directed by the General Assembly.

2. The Vice President shall:

a. perform the functions of the President in the absence or incapacity of the President;

b. be responsible for the development and strengthening of national Servas groups;

c. keep broadly informed about the work of the Area Coordinators, and represent their interests in the Executive Committee; and

d. perform such other functions as shall be delegated by the President or General Assembly.

3. The General Secretary shall:

a. handle the correspondence of Servas International;

b. collect information from national groups;

c. arrange for the circulation of host lists and key lists of addresses;

d. be responsible for the recording of the minutes of meetings and conferences, including the minutes of the General Assembly at the end of the term of office; and

e. represent the interests of her/his assistants, National Secretaries and Main Contacts in the Executive Committee. In the case of an assistant or assistants being elected by the General Assembly or appointed by the Executive Committee, the General Secretary nevertheless carries the final responsibility for the duties of General Secretary.

4. The Treasurer shall:

a. keep the financial accounts and records of Servas International and arrange for auditing;

b. send out invoices and collect money owing to Servas International;

c. submit an annual financial report to the Executive Committee; and d. collect financial information from member groups. Page Three

5. The Peace Secretary shall:

a. promote the peace aspect of Servas International in national groups and internationally;

b. coordinate the work of national Peace Secretaries;

c. represent the interest of the UN delegates and national Peace Secretaries in the Executive Committee; and

d. encourage liaison with other peace organizations, and arrange representation in such organisations when appropriate.

6. The Host List Coordinator shall:

a. collect orders for host lists and notify national groups of these orders;

b. receive and distribute host lists for certain national groups as appropriate; and

c. produce and distribute host lists for certain national groups as appropriate.

VIII Dissolution

1. Dissolution of Servas International shall be effective upon a vote of the General Assembly carried by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting.

2. After payment of outstanding debts of Servas International, and within a period determined by the General Assembly, and surplus funds shall be transferred to another non-profit organization, or organizations, interested in building world peace, as selected by a majority vote at the General Assembly dissolving Servas International. If that General Assembly cannot agree on such a non-profit organization or organizations, it shall give specific authority to a committee of at least 5 persons to select the non-profit organization or organizations.

IX Amendment of Statutes The Servas International Statutes may be amended or replaced at a General Assembly by an affirmative vote of at least two thirds of those present and voting, provided that notice of the proposed amendment or replacement is given to the delegates at least three months before the General Assembly at which it will be voted on. Page Four

Servas International Exco Elected in General Assembly in Piaski, Poland, 2012[edit]

President: Jonny Sågänger from Sweden Sweden
Vice President: Ann Greenhough from Britain United Kingdom
General Secretary: Jaime Alberto Romero from Colombia Colombia
Peace Secretary: Danielle Serres from France France
Treasurer: Mirek Wasilewski from Poland Poland
Hostlist Coordinator: Arnoud Philippo from Netherlands Netherlands

Servas international conferences[edit]


First Servas international Conference[edit]

  • Seeds of servas, Bob Luitweiler

First Peace Builders International Conference, Hamburg, Germany Out of which came the name "Servas" (1952) (L to R) Folke Hertling, Germany, Chris Smith, UK; Nana Fundar, Denmark, Claus Weiss, Germany, Leticia Grove, Bob Luitweiler, USA, Dagny Ingvorsen, Esma Boroughs, UK, Connie Jones, UK, August Budinski, Helmut Hertling, Germany, Krisun Ingvorsen, Denmark

Should I continue my planned trip through South East Asia, the Philippines and Japan or retrace my steps back to Europe? I canceled my plans to continue around the world and took the next ship back to Europe. The first International Servas gathering met at Claus Weiss' and the Hertling's house near Hamburg. Gertraud Hertling who had sowed the first seed for our program was not there but her father took us in like his family. Only England, Denmark and Germany were officially represented. Besides agreeing on some basic procedures, we settled on a name for our program. Esther liked "Open Doors." I liked "Peace Builders" but did not like using an English title. Esma Boroughs, the first International Setvas Secretaty, chose "Servas" that is Esperanto for "serve," in the present tense. We all agreed. The thought was that people who traveled would learn from their hosts how they could more effectively serve in their home communities to develop programs and human relations that were free of the seeds of war. At no time did anyone suggest that choosing Servas meant we would abandon our original purpose of peace building. The story that choosing the name Servas meant we wanted to alter the aim of our program is wrong. We just wanted a name that was more international then Peace Builders which was exclusively English. By the time I returned from India, Claus Weiss with fellow students Joachim Wessloh and Gertraud's brother Volker had established a German working committee and had already gathered around 40 hospitality addresses. Joop van der Spek was leading the program in the Netherlands. Nana Funder who had an outstanding preschool in Denmark and had been a Servas traveler in the US along with Kristen Ingvorsen a manufacturer of roofing tiles, ran Servas in Denmark for many years.In those early years the leadership of Servas in most countries changed frequently.

Criteria for deciding where the Servas International conference is to be held[edit]

The 2001 GA in Thailand adopted a set of criteria for deciding where the Servas International conference will be held. The criteria are:

  1. Rotation (conferences should be held in different areas of the world in the course of time)
  2. Health standards
  3. Safety standards
  4. Immigration (passports and visas)
  5. Accessibility (travel to and from)
  6. Adequate infrastructure (communications, roads, hospitals, etc.)
  7. Feasibility study on costs
  8. Sufficient local Servas members to help organize
  9. Consider development potential in the area
  10. Adequate conference facilities


  • 1973 UN placed Servas International on its roster
  • 1972 Statutes were drawn up and accepted by 13 Servas branch countries, Wetzlar

Servas Youth Meetings[edit]

  • Kyrgyzstan July-August, 2014, Cholpon-Ata (North of the lake Issyk-Kul), Kyrgyzstan
  • Poland August, 2012, Tylicz (near Krynica-Zdrój), Poland
  • Uganda July, 2011, Kampala, Uganda
  • Denmark July, 2011 Hvalsø (near Roskilde), Denmark
  • Brazil October, 2010 Bahia, Brazil
  • Mexico March–April, 2010 Xochicalco, Mexico
  • Turkey July, 2008 Istanbul, Turkey
  • England July, 2007 Yorkshire, England
  • Argentina July, 2006 San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

Servas countries[edit]

Servas International is a federation. Each country has its own rules and structure. Diversity is quite complex. Each National Servas country can have its own website, usually reachable from the main international site.

The Servas member-countries who have a website:


External links[edit]