WHAT ARE RESOLUTIONS?
Resolutions are the essential mechanism by which First Nations provide specific mandates and direction to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). The resolutions process serves to effectively foster and capture national consensus on significant policy matters and are considered at the Annual General Assembly or at the Special Chiefs Assembly. In 2007, the AFN Executive approved new Rules of Procedure for AFN Assemblies to enhance efficiencies and decision- making at AFN Assemblies. Resolutions are also addressed within the Rules of Procedure which are available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE?
The Resolutions Committee manages all administrative aspects of the resolutions process from the time draft resolutions are first submitted in draft format until they are finalized and posted on the AFN website. The Resolutions Committee consists of technical and legal advisors that review all resolutions before they are presented to the Chiefs-in-Assembly. The Resolutions Committee works closely with the Co-Chairs appointed to preside over the Assembly and also with the AFN Executive Committee.
WHO CAN SUBMIT RESOLUTIONS?
Resolutions will only be accepted by the Resolutions Committee if the name and First Nation of the mover and seconder are noted on the resolution. The mover and seconder must be either a Chief or a duly mandated Proxy and must be available to speak to the Resolution at the Assembly. If the mover and seconder are not noted on a resolution submitted for consideration, then the resolution will not be recorded and entered into the process as an official draft resolution.
WHERE DO YOU SEND RESOLUTIONS?
The format to submit a resolution is preferably by email using the draft resolution template posted on the AFN website at www.afn.ca. If it is not possible to send the draft resolution in electronic format, a copy may be faxed or mailed to the Resolutions Committee at the AFN office.
ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
55 Metcalfe Street, 16th Floor Ottawa, ON K1P 6L5
Tel: (613) 241-6789
Fax: (613) 241-5808
WHEN MUST RESOLUTIONS BE SUBMITTED?
On September 19, 2011, the AFN Executive Committee changed the resolution submission deadline to fall on the Friday two full weeks prior to the first day of a scheduled Assembly. A Call for Resolutions will be distributed at least one month before the due date and reminder notices will be sent approximately 2 and 1 week before the final due date. The Resolutions Committee will contact the originator to confirm receipt of the submission. If confirmation is not received, please contact the Resolutions Committee at the above address.
Resolutions that are received after the deadline will generally not be considered and have to be re-submitted for consideration at a subsequent Assembly. In rare circumstances, a late resolution that is of an urgent or emerging nature will be considered provided that it meets the following criteria:
- it is in relation to an emergent issue of concern to the Chiefs-in-Assembly that arose after the resolutions deadline and requires intervention prior to the next scheduled Assembly; and
- it is in relation to a situation that has national implications; and
- the resolution complies with the guidelines for resolutions set out elsewhere in this policy; and
- the advancement of the resolution is supported by at least half of the members of the AFN Executive.
All late resolutions are subject to approval by the co-Chairs at an Assembly, in consultation with the AFN Executive and the Resolutions Committee. Together, they will determine whether the proposed resolution meets the above criteria. The co-Chairs will work to resolve issues relating to a late resolution in dialogue with members of the AFN Executive Committee.
All accepted late resolutions will be clearly marked as such and will be deliberated upon at a set time on the Assembly Agenda, generally occurring on the third day of the Assembly.
WHAT MUST A RESOLUTION INCLUDE?
It is the responsibility of the Resolutions Committee to ensure that all resolutions for consideration meet the criteria outlined below.
- Includes name and First Nation of mover
- Includes name and First Nation of seconder
- Has a short but descriptive title
- Is national in scope (cannot be purely regional)
- Is identified as either mandate/directional, organizational or support
- Has a timeline or lifespan
- Is relevant and strategic
- Uses consistent wording (demand, request, direct, etc…)
- Considers the cost of implementation and available sources of funding
- Is clear in its purpose and intent
- Is consistent with the powers set out in the AFN Charter
- Is not in conflict with previously passed resolutions (or clearly state within the new draft that there is a conflict)
- Is not in conflict with other draft resolutions that have been submitted
- Is no longer than 2 pages
HOW DO THE FINAL RESOLUTIONS GET ACTIONED?
The Resolutions Committee assigns each resolution to the appropriate AFN unit based on its subject matter. An update report for resolutions passed at the Assembly is prepared for distribution at the next Assembly. This report includes each of the resolutions with the number, title, mover, seconder and all clauses in the “Therefore be it resolved” section. The actions taken to implement the resolution are outlined for each resolution. This report is included with the distribution information at the next Assembly.
Resolutions, once adopted, will remain the mandate of the AFN unless modified by subsequent resolution or until the resolution expires due to completion of all actions in the operative clause. If there is no action on resolutions within five years, they are then deemed inactive.
TYPES OF RESOLUTIONS
Mandating / Directional: These provide specific direction and/or mandate a specific action on a particular matter. AFN requires a mandate to engage with government on particular topics. In addition, the resolution process allows Chiefs-in-Assembly to set out their collective position on a particular issue, legislation, or any matter affecting First Nations. These resolutions require full consideration by the Chiefs-in-Assembly during designated times identified by subject matter on the Assembly agenda.
Organizational: These relate to internal matters regarding the operation and function of the AFN (such as the audit or appointment of officials). These resolutions require full consideration by the Chiefs-in-Assembly and may be addressed during the Business portion of the meeting ordinarily at the beginning of Day One.
Support: These call for a specific advocacy approach such as writing a letter or requesting a meeting. It is important that support resolutions clearly describe the desired outcome from Chiefs-in-Assembly, in order to ensure that the request is being addressed in the most effective and timely manner possible. There may be other tools and means that could be explored that might achieve the desired outcome rather than through a Support resolution. For example, if the Chief/Proxy is looking for an action such as correspondence from the National Chief to a specific federal Minister, then this could be done without a resolution. The Resolutions Committee could simply put in a request for this action to the National Chief’s Office.
Support resolutions will be dealt with at such times that the specific topic area to which they relate is being discussed OR brought to Chiefs-in-Assembly on the final day of the Assembly and may be read and adopted as a block.
HOW DO YOU WRITE A RESOLUTION?
General Format and Writing Guidelines
Writers are encouraged to observe the following guidelines when drafting resolutions for submission to the Resolutions Committee:
- All AFN resolutions have the same format which includes the information block (general info including mover and seconder), the preamble (background information that follows the term “whereas”), and the operative clause (course of action set forth by “therefore be it resolved that”).
- Writers are asked to use the template that can be found at www.afn.ca.
- A vocabulary that is national in scope should be used at all times when drafting resolutions in order to maintain national significance of all AFN resolutions.
- Keep wording as simple, straightforward, and specific as possible.
- Be clear and concise when stating rationale and desired outcomes.
- Title – this should appropriately reflect the intended course of action of the resolution
- Subject – main topic area of the resolution (health, education, treaties, etc…)
- Mover – include properly spelled Chief or Proxy name (first and last names), community name, province
- Seconder – include properly spelled Chief or Proxy name (first and last names), community name, province
Preamble (begins with “WHEREAS”)
- This section provides the background information for the resolution.
- It identifies the exact problem to be addressed.
- Each “whereas” is a reason for the resolution and each reason requires a separate clause.
- If the rationale cannot be explained in five clauses or less due to the complexity of the issue, then background or supporting documentation may be attached.
- This section should prepare the reader for the action presented in the next section.
Operative Clause (begins with “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Chiefs-in-Assembly”)
- This is the very reason why the resolution is being drafted in the first place.
- The course of action that is being put forward should be identified here.
- Each action requires a separate clause.
- Be as clear as possible when stating what the resolution is meant to achieve.
- Try to begin each clause with an action verb (e.g., direct, request, call upon, etc…)
- There should be no doubt as to what action is being requested, who should do it, how it should be done and when it should be done.
- Clauses addressing federal issues should direct the AFN to request the federal government to work to achieve the desired objective (e.g., “that the Chiefs-in-Assembly direct the AFN to urge/call upon the federal government to…”).
- The Chiefs-in-Assembly can not direct another organization or government to do something, however, a course of action can be recommended to another organization.
- A recommendation for action must consider the cost of doing so and may be contingent upon funding – any available sources of funding should be identified in the resolution.
WHAT STEPS DOES A RESOLUTION GO THROUGH?
There are several steps in the resolutions process from the time of submission of the draft resolution to the time the final versions are signed by the National Chief and distributed to First Nations.
- Draft resolutions are received and recorded by the Resolutions Committee (all versions of submissions from original to final draft are kept on file*).
- Review for compliance with the resolution policy. (If necessary, return any submitted resolutions to the originator to have deficiencies corrected.)
- Review for grammar and format.
- Resolutions are compiled in a package and reviewed in draft form by the AFN executive, at a meeting convened for this purpose.
- Send to appropriate team leader for content and technical review.
- Draft resolutions are posted on the AFN website.
- Based upon Executive and Team Leader review and feedback, advise the mover/seconder of substantive or procedural irregularities that could impede the Assembly’s ability to arrive at a consensus on the resolution and/or make recommendations on revisions that may assist the adoption of the resolution.
- Resolutions Committee meets to review all draft resolutions including legal review and to discuss any potentially contentious issues.
- Steps may need to be taken to facilitate agreement or consolidate drafts where resolutions dealing with the same subject matter are submitted.
- Modify draft resolutions as required.
- Send suggested changes back to the originators.
- Prepare final draft versions for presentation at Assembly.
- Prioritize the order of resolutions based on the draft agenda for the Assembly.
- Assign draft number beginning with #1/year.
- Send for translation to French.
- Send all drafts (English and French) for inclusion in the Assembly kit materials for distribution at time of registration. They are also posted on the AFN website.
* If background materials accompany the draft resolution, the material will be forwarded to the appropriate team leader and kept on file. However, the background will not be translated nor will it be included in the distribution package at the Assembly.
DURING THE ASSEMBLY:
Final Draft Resolutions
- Projected time that resolutions will be discussed will appear on the Assembly agenda provided to delegates.
- The Co-Chairs will introduce each draft resolution by indicating the number, the title of the resolution, the mover and the seconder.
- The Co-Chairs will ask the mover and seconder to identify themselves. If they are not present, the Co-Chairs will ask another Chief/Proxy to move/second the draft resolution. If there is no mover and seconder, the resolution may be deferred to a later time or it dies.
- At this point, the mover may declare intent to withdraw the proposed resolution. In this event, the Co-Chairs will declare the resolution withdrawn and no further debate or comments will be allowed.
- If not withdrawn, the Co-Chairs will read the resolution in its entirety.
- The Co-Chairs will call for the mover to speak to the resolution and open the debate. The mover and seconder are allowed a limited and pre-determined amount of time to speak to the resolution.
- The resolution is then debated by the Chiefs-in-Assembly. Each delegate is allowed a limited and pre-determined amount of time to speak to the resolution.
- A designated member of the Resolutions Committee, as well as the official note taker, will record any amendments from the floor.
- Amendments from the floor are allowed if they comply with the intent of the original resolution. Amendments will be accepted when duly moved and seconded. The amendments must be submitted in writing to the Resolutions Committee and the note taker.
- When the Co-Chairs call an end to the debate, they will then call for any opposition or abstentions to the resolution.
- If there is no opposition or abstentions, the Co-Chairs will declare the draft resolution carried by consensus.
- If there is opposition, the Co-Chairs may allow additional time to build consensus.
- If all efforts at achieving consensus have been exhausted without success, the Co-Chairs shall put the matter to a vote.
- As long as there is a quorum (see Rules of Procedure for AFN Assemblies), there can be a vote on the resolution.
- Voting may be by a show of hands, by standing vote, or by another means as determined by the Co-Chairs.
- At least 60% of the Chiefs/Proxies in attendance must vote in favour of the resolution for it to be carried.
- Abstentions will not be counted in calculating the necessary percentage required to carry the resolution.
- The results of the vote will be recorded including the decision (number of votes for, against, and abstentions) and the date/time.
- If the allotted time for resolution debate and vote expires, the session will be closed unless a majority of delegates present vote to extend the allotted time. If the resolutions do not get debated due to time constraints or lack of quorum, the Co-Chairs may refer the draft resolutions to the next AFN Executive Committee meeting, with recommendations, for their consideration.
- Resolutions proposed from the floor will not be entertained unless the Co-Chairs deem the action appropriate after consultation with the Resolutions Committee, the AFN Executive Committee or others as the Co-Chairs deem appropriate and necessary. The Co-Chairs would then suspend the Rules of Procedure for the stated purpose and asks the delegate to proceed. If there is any objection, a majority of delegates present may decide if the rules are suspended.
- All final draft resolutions are kept at the distribution table.
- All versions of the draft resolutions are returned to the AFN office electronically and in hard copy for filing.
- All draft resolutions carried by the Chiefs-in-Assembly are still considered “draft” until they are amended and signed off by the National Chief. It may take several weeks before the final versions are ready for distribution.
- The Resolutions Committee will maintain a list and contact information for all inquiries for copies of final resolutions and these will be circulated as they become available.
- Draft versions are amended, using tracked changes, by the Resolutions Committee as passed by the Chiefs-in-Assembly. Changes are made based on the handwritten notes taken by the Resolutions Committee, the note taker’s notes as well as the submissions provided by the mover/seconder.
- Resolutions passed by the Chiefs-in-Assembly shall not be further amended or modified except where spelling, grammar and clarification requirements suggest that additional changes are absolutely necessary.
- All information in the information block (mover/seconder name, community, etc…) is verified against the registration list.
- All amended resolutions will be reviewed one last time by the Resolutions Committee.
- The list of resolutions including the original draft number and the new final number (determined chronologically from the last resolution passed in that calendar year) is prepared.
- Final versions, with tracked changes, are sent for translation to French.
- English and French final versions are printed on AFN letterhead and provided to the National Chief for his signature.
- Once signed, they become final and are distributed and posted on the AFN website.
- All original finals are given to Central Records for safekeeping. All original drafts are filed by the Resolutions Committee.
- If the draft resolutions have been referred to the AFN Executive, copies will be prepared and a package made available prior to the next AFN Executive meeting.
- All resolutions passed by the AFN Executive follow the same process as those passed by the Chiefs-in-Assembly