The Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques (FIAV) is an international federation of regional, national, and multinational vexillological associations and institutions across the globe.
FIAV unites those associations and institutions throughout the world whose object is the pursuit of vexillology, which is the creation and development of a body of knowledge about flags of all types, their forms and functions, and of scientific theories and principles based on that knowledge. FIAV’s purposes are: to create a strong bond among those associations and institutions and to encourage and coordinate their work, studies, and research; to promote the organization of International Congresses of Vexillology and to lend its support to their organizers; to encourage the creation in all countries of associations and institutions dedicated to vexillology; and to recognize international standards facilitating the development of these activities.
The idea for FIAV began with the informal “International League of Vexillologists,” formed on September 5, 1965 at the First International Congress of Vexillology held in Muiderberg, The Netherlands. The Congress was organized by Whitney Smith of the United States, Klaes Sierksma of The Netherlands, and Louis Mühlemann of Switzerland. The Fédération internationale des associations de vexillologie was organized on September 3, 1967 at the Second International Congress of Vexillology held in Zürich, Switzerland. The FIAV flag, designed by Klaes Sierksma, was first hoisted during ICV 2 on Sunday, September 3, 1967, at the Institute Gottlieb Duttweller.
Twelve associations and institutions recognized themselves as the charter Members of FIAV on September 7, 1969 at Boston University at the Third International Congress of Vexillology held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The Association is one of the twelve charter Members, of which only four are still active in FIAV: The Flag Research Center (established February 1, 1962); Nederlandse Vereniging voor Vlaggenkunde (established June 19, 1966); Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Fahnen-und Flaggenkunde / Société Suisse de Vexillologie / Società Svizzera di Vessillologia (established January 21, 1967); and North American Vexillological Association-Association nord-américaine de vexillologie (established June 3, 1967.
FIAV sponsors the biennial International Congresses of Vexillology. The Association has organized six International Congresses of Vexillology: ICV 3 (Boston 1969); ICV 7 (Washington, D.C. 1977); ICV 9 (Ottawa 1981); ICV 12 (San Francisco 1987); ICV 18 (Victoria, British Columbia 1999); and ICV 24 (Alexandria, Virginia 2011). The Association sponsors The Whitney Smith Award, which recognizes the best paper presented at an International Congress of Vexillology.
FIAV publishes a newsletter, Info-FIAV, which is a chronicle of internal organizational matters such as the FIAV Constitution, a list of FIAV Members, and the minutes of FIAV General Assembly sessions.
FIAV recognizes October 1 as World Vexillology Day, to promote vexillology as defined in the FIAV Constitution, which is “the creation and development of a body of knowledge about flags of all types, their forms and functions, and of scientific theories and principles based on that knowledge.” The day celebrates the publication of the world’s first vexillological publication, The Flag Bulletin, on October 1, 1961, by Whitney Smith and Gerhard Grahl. Four months later The Flag Research Center was established, which publishes The Flag Bulletin. October 1, 1961 was the beginning of the effort by the founder of vexillology, Whitney Smith, to organize the serious study of flags and to achieve recognition of vexillology as a legitimate sub-discipline of the social sciences. Dr. Smith achieved that goal, as shown both by the increasing number of doctoral level works in vexillology and by the placement of the Whitney Smith Flag Research Center Collection at The University of Texas at Austin’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.
The current FIAV Board consists of Michel R. Lupant (President, first elected 1997) of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; Charles A. Spain (Secretary-General, first elected 1997) of Houston, Texas; and Graham M.P. Bartram, (Secretary-General for Congresses, first elected 1999) of Ruislip (London).