Rules of Procedure

  • Country/entity

    Ireland
    United Kingdom
    Northern Ireland
  • Region

    Europe and Eurasia
    Europe and Eurasia
    Europe and Eurasia
  • Agreement name

    Rules of Procedure
  • Date

    29 Jul 1996
  • Agreement status

    Multiparty signed/agreed
  • Interim arrangement

    Yes
  • Agreement/conflict level

    Interstate/intrastate conflict(s) ( Northern Ireland Conflict (1968 - 1998) )
  • Stage

    Pre-negotiation/process
  • Conflict nature

    Government/territory
  • Peace process

    Northern Ireland peace process
  • Parties

    British and Irish governments
  • Third parties

    -
  • Description

    This agreement sets out rules and conduct of the proceedings of forthcoming negotiations and rules for decision-making. It sets out the structures of negotiations into four formats: Plenary; Strand One; Strand Two; Strand Three; and, a Business Committee and their areas of concern and structure. It also sets out the chairmen and their roles and responsibilities.


Groups

  • Children/youth

    No specific mention.

  • Disabled persons

    No specific mention.

  • Elderly/age

    No specific mention.

  • Migrant workers

    No specific mention.

  • Racial/ethnic/national group
    Groups→Racial/ethnic/national group→Substantive
    Page 5-6, Decision-Making, 34
    A proposition would be deemed to have sufficient consensus when supported by participating political parties which, taken together, shall have obtained a majority of the valid votes cast in the elections held on 30 May 1996 and which between them represent a majority of both the unionist and nationalist communities in Northern Ireland respectively and which also constitute a majority of the participating political parties...
  • Religious groups

    No specific mention.

  • Indigenous people

    No specific mention.

  • Other groups

    No specific mention.

  • Refugees/displaced persons

    No specific mention.

  • Social class

    No specific mention.


Gender

  • Women, girls and gender

    No specific mention.

  • Men and boys

    No specific mention.

  • LGBTI

    No specific mention.

  • Family

    No specific mention.


State definition

  • Nature of state (general)

    No specific mention.

  • State configuration

    No specific mention.

  • Self determination

    No specific mention.

  • Referendum

    No specific mention.

  • State symbols

    No specific mention.

  • Independence/secession

    No specific mention.

  • Accession/unification

    No specific mention.

  • Border delimitation

    No specific mention.

  • Cross-border provision

    No specific mention.


Governance

  • Political institutions (new or reformed)

    No specific mention.

  • Elections

    No specific mention.

  • Electoral commission

    No specific mention.

  • Political parties reform

    No specific mention.

  • Civil society

    No specific mention.

  • Traditional/religious leaders

    No specific mention.

  • Public administration

    No specific mention.

  • Constitution

    No specific mention.


Power sharing

  • Political power sharing

    No specific mention.

  • Territorial power sharing

    No specific mention.

  • Economic power sharing

    No specific mention.

  • Military power sharing

    No specific mention.


Human rights and equality

  • Human rights/RoL general

    No specific mention.

  • Bill of rights/similar

    No specific mention.

  • Treaty incorporation

    No specific mention.

  • Civil and political rights

    No specific mention.

  • Socio-economic rights

    No specific mention.


Rights related issues

  • Citizenship

    No specific mention.

  • Democracy
    Page 5, Conduct of the Proceedings, 29.
    If, during the negotiations, a formal representation is made to the Independent Chairmen that a participant is no longer entitled to participate on the grounds that they have demonstrably dishonoured the principles of democracy and nonviolence as set forth in the Report of 22 January 1996 of the International Body, this will be circulated by the Chairmen to all participants and will be subject to appropriate action by the Governments, having due regard to the views of the participants.
  • Detention procedures

    No specific mention.

  • Media and communication

    No specific mention.

  • Mobility/access

    No specific mention.

  • Protection measures

    No specific mention.

  • Other

    No specific mention.


Rights institutions

  • NHRI

    No specific mention.

  • Regional or international human rights institutions

    No specific mention.


Justice sector reform

  • Criminal justice and emergency law

    No specific mention.

  • State of emergency provisions

    No specific mention.

  • Judiciary and courts

    No specific mention.

  • Prisons and detention

    No specific mention.

  • Traditional Laws

    No specific mention.


Socio-economic reconstruction

  • Development or socio-economic reconstruction

    No specific mention.

  • National economic plan

    No specific mention.

  • Natural resources

    No specific mention.

  • International funds

    No specific mention.

  • Business

    No specific mention.

  • Taxation

    No specific mention.

  • Banks

    No specific mention.


Land, property and environment

  • Land reform/rights

    No specific mention.

  • Pastoralist/nomadism rights

    No specific mention.

  • Cultural heritage

    No specific mention.

  • Environment

    No specific mention.

  • Water or riparian rights or access

    No specific mention.


Security sector

  • Security Guarantees

    No specific mention.

  • Ceasefire

    No specific mention.

  • Police

    No specific mention.

  • Armed forces

    No specific mention.

  • DDR

    No specific mention.

  • Intelligence services

    No specific mention.

  • Parastatal/rebel and opposition group forces

    No specific mention.

  • Withdrawal of foreign forces

    No specific mention.

  • Corruption

    No specific mention.

  • Crime/organised crime

    No specific mention.

  • Drugs

    No specific mention.

  • Terrorism

    No specific mention.


Transitional justice

  • Transitional justice general

    No specific mention.

  • Amnesty/pardon

    No specific mention.

  • Courts

    No specific mention.

  • Mechanism

    No specific mention.

  • Prisoner release

    No specific mention.

  • Vetting

    No specific mention.

  • Victims

    No specific mention.

  • Missing persons

    No specific mention.

  • Reparations

    No specific mention.

  • Reconciliation

    No specific mention.


Implementation

  • UN signatory

    No specific mention.

  • Other international signatory

    No specific mention.

  • Referendum for agreement

    No specific mention.

  • International mission/force/similar

    No specific mention.

  • Enforcement mechanism

    No specific mention.

  • Related cases

    No specific mention.

  • Source
    On file with author. NICS Northern Ireland Office.

29 July 1996

Rules of Procedure

1. The negotiations to which these rules of procedure refer and whose conduct they are intended to govern are, as provided for by Section 2(1) of the Northern Ireland (Entry to Negotiations, etc) Act 1996, the negotiations referred to in Command Paper 3232 published on 16 April 1996.

2. The conduct and outcome of these negotiation is exclusively a matter for those involved in the negotiations.

These rules of procedure are adopted as the single set of rules governing the conduct of the negotiations.

These rules can only be amended by agreement, in accordance with the decision-making process outlined in paragraphs 30 through 35, following discussion in the Business Committee.

Structure of Negotiations

3. Negotiations will be organised so that issues are discussed in the following formats:

• Plenary;

• Strand One;

• Strand Two;

• Strand Three;

and,

• a Business Committee.

Strand One will cover the relationships within Northern Ireland, including the relationship between any new institutions there and the Westminster Parliament;

Strand Two will cover relationships within the island oflreland;

and Strand Three will cover relationships between the British and Irish Governments.

Negotiations on Strand One issues will involve the British Government and the political parties.

Negotiations on Strand Three issues will be between the two Governments.

Negotiations in all other formats will involve the British and Irish Governments and the political parties.

4. The British Government will chair Strand One of the negotiations and the British and Irish Governments will jointly chair Strand Three.

Senator George Mitchell, General John de Chastelain and Prime Minister Harri Holkeri will chair the various aspects of the negotiations which require independent chairmanship, as follows:

• Senator Mitchell (Plenary);

• General de Chastelain (Strand Two and the Business Committee);

and

• Prime Minister Holkeri (Alternate Chairman for the Plenary, Strand Two and the Business Committee).

5. Where appropriate, other committees and sub-committees of the negotiations may be established among the participants in the format to which the sub-group relates.

Committees and sub-committees shall be chaired by the relevant Chairman or, by agreement among the participants in that format, by a person nominated by the Chairman.

Role and Responsibility of Chairmen

6. The designated Chairmen shall preside over all the business of the negotiations and will exercise their functions impartially at all times.

7. The Chairmen will moderate in all meetings to allow an opportunity for full discussion of issues on the agenda, guided by the aim of securing agreement of as broad a spectrum of participation as is possible, and doing so as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.

8. In their conduct of these proceedings, all Chairmen will be governed by these rules of procedure, having due regard to the views of the Business Committee on the arrangements of business and the exercise of their functions.

9. The Chairmen will be bound by the same requirement for confidentiality as the participants.

10. The Chairmen may bring forward specific suggestions if it is regarded as helpful by the relevant delegations.

Sequence of the Negotiations

11. Following the conclusion of the Opening Plenary, the appropriate Chairmen will convene meetings of the negotiations within the three strands and any committees or sub-committees subject to their having regard to the views of the Business Committee.

Negotiations in each strand will open on the same day and proceed in parallel, consistent with the provisions of paragraph 14.

12. The Independent Chairman of the Plenary may convene further meetings of the Plenary if he considers such meetings to be necessary in the light of developments across the negotiations as a whole.

He shall, in addition, convene further plenary meetings at the request of the Business Committee.

Business Committee

13. The Business Committee shall comprise up to two representatives of each participating delegation.

It will co-ordinate the progress and procedures of the negotiations.

It will not deal with the substance of the negotiations but will address unresolved procedural issues.

It may also determine the modalities for dealing with any issue which does not fall exclusively within any of the three strands.

14. The timing and duration of meetings in the various formats shall be determined by the relevant Chairman, having due regard to the views of the participants.

However, unless otherwise agreed by the Business Committee, negotiating sessions in different formats, or within formats, will not be held simultaneously, to allow participants, if they so wish, the option of fielding the same negotiating team throughout the negotiations.

15. The Business Committee will be available to advise the Chairmen on the day-today exercise of their responsibilities and to facilitate communication between participating delegations and the Chairmen.

Conduct of the Proceedings

16. All participants in the negotiations will negotiate in good faith, seriously address all aspects of the agreed agenda, and make every effort to reach a comprehensive agreement.

They will maintain confidentiality on all aspects of the negotiations except where they may from time to time agree to publicity.

17. The negotiations in the various formats, committees and sub-committees, will be on the basis of a comprehensive agenda for the negotiations as a whole, adopted by agreement in the opening plenary, as it relates to the participants' area of competence.

Without prejudice to any participant's negotiating position, each participant will be able to raise any significant issue of concern to them and receive a fair hearing for those concerns without their ability to do so being subject to the veto of any other party in the negotiations.

Participants may, by

agreement, develop or refine the comprehensive agenda.

18. Any participant in the format in question will be free to raise any aspect of the three relationships, including constitutional issues and any other matter which it considers relevant.

The conduct and outcome of the negotiations will be exclusively a matter for the relevant participants.

No negotiated outcome is either pre-determined or excluded in advance or limited by anything other than the need for agreement.

Participation in negotiations is without prejudice to any participant's commitment to the achievement by exclusively peaceful means of its preferred options.

It is common ground that any agreement, if it is to command widespread support, will need to give adequate expression to the totality of all three relationships.

19. The agenda for each meeting of the negotiations shall be settled by the participants on the basis of proposals put forward by the Chairman in accordance with the overall agenda in the relevant format, and taking into account the advice of the Business Committee.

20. The relevant Chairman will have responsibility for convening, re-scheduling and adjourning meetings, having due regard to the views of the Business Committee or, as appropriate, of the relevant participants.

It is understood, however, that any delegation may request an adjournment ofup to 20 minutes at a time and the Chairman shall refuse such requests only if they are made with unreasonable

frequency.

21. Strand One negotiations will take place in Castle Buildings, Belfast.

Strand Two negotiations will take place in Belfast, Dublin and London, at times agreed by the Business Committee.

The two Governments will determine where Strand Three meetings will take place.

The Business Committee shall determine the venue of its own meetings.

22. The negotiations shall normally occur only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

23. Where any negotiating team does not attend at a previously agreed time and fails to provide notice of their inability to attend, the Chairman of that meeting and the remaining participants may proceed to conduct the meeting in the absence of that team or teams.

If a delegation should withdraw temporarily or permanently from any aspect of the negotiations, the Chairman and the remaining participants will be free to proceed with business with the remaining participants, notwithstanding such withdrawal.

24. All remarks shall be addressed through the Chairman, who may time-limit interventions at his discretion.

25. The Chairman's ruling on individual procedural matters shall be binding.

In arriving at such rulings, the Chairman may apply the rules for determining sufficient consensus as set out in paragraphs 30 through 35.

26. The Chairman may at any time seek a meeting or accede to a request for a meeting with any participating delegation or group of delegations.

27. Any written submissions which may be received from other groups or individuals will have no status.

28. Participating political parties may only be represented at formal meetings of the Plenary, or to discuss Strand One, Strand Two or Strand Three issues, by elected delegates.

Such delegates may be supported in meetings by researchers or others who are not elected.

The numbers of delegates and supporters participating in any one meeting shall be agreed by the Business Committee.

29. If, during the negotiations, a formal representation is made to the Independent Chairmen that a participant is no longer entitled to participate on the grounds that they have demonstrably dishonoured the principles of democracy and nonviolence as set forth in the Report of 22 January 1996 of the International Body, this will be circulated by the Chairmen to all participants and will be subject to appropriate action by the Governments, having due regard to the views of the participants.

Decision-Making

30. The negotiations will operate on the basis of consensus.

Ifit appears to the Chairman, after a reasonable period of discussion, that there is no unanimity, he may follow one or more of the courses of action set out below:

a. consult with the participants, with a view to putting forward a solution that he believes will secure agreement;

and/or,

b. invite the participants to set up a broadly representative working group, including nominees of both Governments (or of the British

Government alone in the case of Strand One issues);

and/or,

c. obtain the agreement of the participants to refer the matter to an agreed group of experts for advice, requesting a report within an agreed

specified period.

31. It will also be open to the participants, acting solely by agreement and only at their instigation, and subject to the provisions set out in paragraph 3 7 below, to refer the matter to the forum for consideration, requesting a report.

32. If, after the participants have considered any further proposals arising from one or more of the courses of action set out above, there is no unanimity on a particular proposition, the Chairman may propose that negotiations proceed on the basis that the proposition has been approved by sufficient consensus, as defined in paragraph 34.

33. Sufficient consensus may apply to all decisions taken in any format.

34. A proposition would be deemed to have sufficient consensus when supported by participating political parties which, taken together, shall have obtained a majority of the valid votes cast in the elections held on 3 0 May 1996 and which between them represent a majority of both the unionist and nationalist communities in Northern Ireland respectively and which also constitute a majority of the participating political parties.

With the exception of Strand One, both Governments must endorse the particular proposition for it to be deemed

35. Where it does not prove possible to achieve either unanimity or sufficient consensus, the Chairman will work, in consultation with the participants, to remove obstacles to the reaching of agreement, or, with the agreement of the participants, may decide to move on to the next item on the agenda.

36. The negotiations will proceed on the principle that nothing will be finally agreed in any format until everything is agreed in the negotiations as a whole.

Subject to this principle, it would nevertheless be possible, solely on the basis of agreement among the participants, to proceed on the assumption of contingent agreement on any individual aspect of the negotiations.

Referral to the Forum

37. The negotiating teams in any format of the negotiations, by agreement and on the formal proposal of the participants in that format, may direct the relevant Chairman of the format in question to request the members of the forum, through the Secretary of State, to consider, investigate or discuss a specified subject and to submit a report on that subject to the negotiating teams within a specified period.

Any such report from the forum may only be formally taken under notice by the negotiating teams if it has consensus support in the forum

according to the forum's rules of procedure.

Liaison Arrangements with the Irish Government in Relation to Strand One

38. The British Government, as Chairman of Strand One, will keep the Irish Government informed and will report on the status, as determined by the Strand One participants, of the Strand One negotiations.

Meetings Between the Governments and the Political Parties in Relation to Strand Three

39. Negotiations on Strand Three issues will be between the two Governments.

However, with a view to providing a meaningful role for the political parties, the two Governments will, during the course of their negotiations:

• ensure regular meetings at which the political parties will be briefed and, as appropriate, consulted on progress in the negotiations, and at which they would be able to put forward their views on Strand Three issues under discussion;

and,

• meet the political parties at their request for further discussion of Strand Three issues.

40. To this end, the two Governments will convene regular meetings involving up to three members of the negotiating team of each political party.

41. In addition, in relation to Strand Three issues, each political party, acting independently or in conjunction with others, may, on its initiative or otherwise, confer with either or both Governments in order to consult on issues under discussion and advance its own views, orally or in writing.

In response, each Government will explain its own views and take full account of those put to it by the parties.

42. The outcome of the Strand Three issues will be considered by all the participants alongside the outcome of the other elements of the negotiations as a whole.

Records of Meetings

43. Records of formal meetings will be prepared by note-takers under the general direction of the Chairman of the format within which the meeting takes place.

A draft record of each formal meeting will be circulated as soon as possible to the negotiating team of each Government and political party participating in the meeting and will be subject to their approval at the next meeting of that format, or earlier if appropriate.

44. The British Government will provide a team of civil servants responsible for taking the record of formal Strand One meetings.

The two Governments will provide a pool of civil servants responsible for taking the record of formal meetings in other formats.

The Chairman of the format in question shall appoint note-takers for each meeting from among the officials nominated by the two Governments.