OWSD is a membership organization. Full members have the right to vote regional representatives onto the executive board at the General Assembly, which takes place once every four to five years.
The General Assembly (GA) of Members is the top level decision-making body. The GA is served by an Executive Board (EB) made up of a President and 8 regional members, and an international Secretariat.
The chain of decision-making begins at the level of the GA which approves OWSD activities and programmes. The President and EB implement the decisions agreed by the GA by developing a Strategic Plan and supervising the work of the Secretariat in carrying out that plan.
At the next level, the Secretariat is run by the OWSD Programme Coordinator who is given the authority to make decisions and implement operations and programmes according to the direction set by the Strategic Plan and the decisions made at EB meetings. The Secretariat acts as chief point of contact and liaison between regions, coordinates the national chapters, and administers the programmatic activities.
The Executive Board is made up of:
- 4 Vice presidents (one from each region)
- 4 Members (one from each region)
- Immediate Past President
The Board's duties are to:
- Set the time and venue for the meetings of the General Assembly
- Prepare the agenda and the decisions of the General Assembly
- Implement the decisions taken by the General Assembly
- Screen Membership applications
- Develop a strategic action plan
- Secure funding for programmes and activities
- Approve programmes and activities, as well as their budgets
- Ensure that actual spending is in accordance with these budgets.
OWSD members are further represented in the four regions through National Chapters.
The OWSD Secretariat takes care of all administrative issues pertaining to the Organization as a whole, and is based in the city of Trieste in northern Italy.
The Secretariat is in close contact with the OWSD President and executive board in order to assure that membership is centralised and that strategic decisions and programme activities are carried out.
At present the Secretariat consists of:
- 1 full-time Programme Coordinator
- 1 full-time Administrative Officer
- 2 full-time Fellowships Officers
- 2 full-time Fellowships/Membership Officers
- 1 full-time Communications Officer