While the secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day running of the IFRC, the decisions on its direction and policy are made by the governing bodies. These bodies define a framework of purpose, policies, goals and programmes, and provide a mechanism for accountability and compliance.
The General Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the IFRC. It meets every two years and comprises representatives from all member National Societies.
The Governing Board acts between general assemblies, meeting twice a year with the authority to make certain decisions as determined by the IFRC Constitution. Amongst other functions, the Governing Board is responsible for appointing the secretary general, who is the chief executive officer of the IFRC, directing the secretariat and its delegations.
The board comprises 29 members, which include:
- The IFRC’s President;
- 4 elected Vice Presidents;
- 1 ex-officio Vice-President;
- 20 representatives from elected member National Societies;
- Chair of the Finance Commission;
- Chair of the Risk and Audit Commission; and
- Chair of the Youth Commission.
Elections and appointments to the Governing Board are a matter internal to the IFRC and its member National Societies, not involving States, as per the Electoral Standards which govern them. Elections of the Governing Board take place every 4 years at the IFRC General Assembly by means of an electronic voting system.
Member National Societies submit candidatures and vote for the President and for the 4 elected Vice-Presidents positions, each from one statutory region. Candidates are elected to these positions in their personal capacities. At the same session of the General Assembly, 20 representatives of National Societies, consisting of five National Societies from each of the four statutory regions, are also elected as members of the Governing Board.
In sessions of the General Assembly which alternate with that of the elections mentioned above, the member National Societies elect the members of the Youth Commission by means of an electronic voting system, and appoints the members of the Finance Commission, the Audit and Risk Commission, the Compliance and Mediation Committee and the Election Committee.
Constitutional commissions and committees
The IFRC has 5 constitutional commissions and committees: the Finance Commission, the Audit and Risk Commission, the Youth Commission, the Compliance and Mediation Committee and the Election Committee. The members of the Youth Commission are elected by youth members of the National Societies, while the members of the other commissions and committees are appointed by the General Assembly.
Advisory bodies to the Governing Board and the General Assembly
The Governing Board and the General Assembly may establish advisory bodies in order to support and enhance their work. The respective governing body shall draw up the terms of reference of the relevant advisory body and establish the duration of their remit.