What is the Council of Delegates?
The Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the body where the representatives of all components of the Movement meet to discuss matters that concern the Movement as a whole.
The Council of Delegates meets every two years and is attended by members of the Movement – delegations of the 190 National Societies, the ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (International Federation). Each delegation has one vote. However, the Council endeavours to adopt its decisions or recommendations by consensus.
The Council can give opinion or make decisions on all matters concerning the Movement.
The International Conference, the Standing Commission, National Societies, the ICRC and the International Federation can refer issues to the Council. The Council may also refer issues to the International Conference.
In a year when an International Conference takes place, the Council of Delegates is held prior to the Conference. It adopts the provisional agenda of the Conference and proposes candidates for election as officers of the Conference.
History of the Council of Delegates
The Council of Delegates (initially known as Commission of Delegates) was established in 1884 during the 3rd International Red Cross Conference, to assemble the National Societies and the ICRC in a forum for discussion and cooperation within the Red Cross family. The main reason to establish this special ‘Commission of Delegates’ within the framework of the International Conference was to create a forum for matters concerning the Red Cross as such, outside the discussions with States. For many years, the Council of Delegates did not achieve its aim to be an important Red Cross forum and was concerned almost entirely with procedural matters.
The turning point was in 1961, the Council of Delegates for the first time met outside the framework of the International Conference and dealt with issues that were concerns of the Movement only. Since then the Council gradually gained importance and came closer to the initial objective of being a forum settling matters of substance of the Movement, such as the Declaration of Fundamental Principles and cooperation and coordination among Movement components.
Source: Elzbieta Mikos-Skuza, ‘Council of Delegates’ in <<Making the Voice of Humanity Heard>>
The 2015 Council of Delegates is convened by the Standing Commission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and co-organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.