HVS/NS Non-Human Conference Rules

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Conference Rules

I. Order of Business

  1. The general Order of Business for General Sessions will be:
    • Opening
    • Invocation and Mass
    • Opening Address
    • Presentations and Addresses
    • General Discussion
    • Actions
    • Closing Address
    • Mass
    • Adjournment
  2. The specific Order of Business for each General Session will be determined by the Officers of the Conference acting in Committee.
  3. The Order of Business will be displayed on the Conference Board and will be available on all Delegates’ Conference Displays. The item currently under consideration will be highlighted on all displays.
  4. The Convenor will be responsible for maintaining the Order of Business during each General Session.
  5. The Convenor may move the Order of Business at his discretion, Delegates vote for a suspension of the rules to continue a particular item for a stated period.

II. Conduct of the Session

  1. The Conduct of the Meeting will be the responsibility of the Convenor. The Convenor will move the Order of Business, introduce Presentations and Addresses, enter the submission of Documents and Materials, recognize Delegates speaking in discussion, accept the proposal of actions, conduct all votes, and report the results of votes.
  2. The Convenor shall enforce all time limits as specified in the General Session Rules, unless Delegates vote for a suspension of the rules to change the time limit on the item currently under consideration.
  3. The Convenor may, at his discretion, set additional time limits not otherwise specified in the General Session Rules. Such limits will be enforced unless Delegates vote for a suspension of the rules to change the time limit on the item currently under consideration.
  4. The Convenor shall have sole discretion over all other matters pertaining to the Conduct of the Session, unless the Officers of the Conference acting in Committee vote in the majority to remove or suspend the Convenor and appoint a replacement, permanent or pro tempore, excepting that the Proctor may at any time override the Convenor or any other Officer of the Convention.

III. Rules of Order

  1. Delegates will be expected to adhere to all provisions of the Conference Constitution and the Conference Rules. Disregard of this expectation constitutes cause for loss of credentialed status.
  2. Delegates and Advisors requiring translation/interpretation for verbal proceedings will notify the Conference Officers no less than ten days in advance of the convention date of the session for which translation/interpretation is required, and the Recording Clerk will make appropriate arrangements for translation/interpretation.
  3. All written materials will be provided in the original language of submission, in English and Latin translations, and in any additional translations available or provided at the time of translation. Delegates and Advisors requiring additional translation of written materials should make their own arrangements for translation.
  4. Delegates, Advisors, and Observers will refrain from applause, verbal outbursts, and other demonstrations of approval or disapproval; excepting only that formal addresses may be applauded. Those engaging in such demonstrations will be removed from the General Session chamber for the balance of the day’s meeting.
  5. Delegates, Advisors, and Observers will remain seated at all times except when arriving or leaving the General Session chamber, excepting that Advisors may stand when using the speaking stations.
  6. Delegates will use their communications consoles to signal their desire to enter discussion, request points of order, submit materials or proposals, or vote. Delegates will use their microphones when speaking to the Session.
  7. Advisors requested or granted permission to address the Session will do so using the speaking stations provided in the Advisors’ seating gallery.
  8. There will be no eating, drinking, or smoking in the General Session Chamber, except water provided in the Delegates’ seating and Advisors’ galleries.
  9. Advisors and Observers leaving the chamber while the General Session is convened will not be readmitted until the Session is recessed, and prior to reconvening.
  10. No recording devices are permitted in the General Session Chamber except those granted to approved Press representatives.
  11. Formal protocol will obtain. Speakers will address the Convenor to begin all remarks, address all remarks to the Convenor and the Conference Officers, and will refer to Conference Officers, Delegates, and Advisors using formal titles. If unsure of a title, the speaker may use “The respected (Delegate/Advisor) (Name) as a proper form of address.
  12. The Convenor may use discretion to curtail the remarks of any speaker addressing the General Session whose remarks he deems to be insulting, inflammatory, or deliberately pejorative of individuals, institutions of the Church, or Church doctrine.

IV. Presentations and Addresses

  1. Requests to make presentations or to address the General Session must be submitted in advance to the Vice President of the Conference. Such requests should include the subject matter of the presentation or address, the specific Session at which the presentation or address will be delivered, the name, titles, and qualifications of the presenter or speaker, and an estimate of the time required for the presentation or address.
  2. The Officers of the Conference acting in Committee will determine an order of Presentations and Addresses for each session of the General Session, and will inform speakers and presenters when they are scheduled to appear in the Order of Business.
  3. Individuals making presentations or addresses to the General Session and wishing to use visual displays through the Conference Display system must provide the Recording Clerks with a copy of their materials one day in advance of their presentation or address.
  4. All presentations and addresses to the General Session will be made from the Lectern. Advisors making scheduled presentations or addresses will be escorted from the Advisor’s Gallery to the chamber floor by a member of the recording clerk’s staff, prior to their appearance.
  5. In making presentations or addresses to the General Session, an individual grants all rights to reproduce, distribute, and otherwise use all remarks made and materials presented; to retain copies in the Vatican Archives; and to grant access to such materials without restrictions.
  6. Within one day after the presentation or address, the transcript and any associated materials will be entered in their entirety to the Conference Archives by the Recording Clerks. All such materials will be available on Delegates’ communications consoles by accessing the Conference Archives Index and selecting the item.

V. Submission of Documents and Materials

  1. Any documents or materials submitted for the consideration of the Delegates must be provided ten days in advance of the session at which they are to be considered, and in the precise format in which they are to be considered.
  2. All documents or materials must be submitted to the Vice President of the Conference, and such submissions must state the name, titles, and qualifications of the individual submitting the material, the authorship of the material, an abstract of the subject matter, and proof that the holder of the copyrights to the material grants the Vatican Archives unrestricted rights to use, distribute, and republish the material with appropriate credits to the holder of the copyrights.
  3. The Officers of the Conference, acting in Committee, will determine the acceptance of such materials and the order in which they will be submitted to the Delegates during the Session.
  4. Materials accepted for submission to the General Session will be entered into the Conference Archives by the Recording Clerks. Once the submission has been made on the floor, the materials will be available on Delegates’ communications consoles by accessing the Conference Archives Index and selecting the item.
  5. Individuals whose materials are submitted to the General Session may be granted, at the time the materials are introduced to the delegates, not more than ten minutes to speak on the relevance of the materials to the Delegates’ consideration.

VI. Discussion

  1. Discussion may occur when the Convenor announces that the floor is open for discussion. The Convenor at his discretion may limit the discussion until a time certain; if so, that time will be added to the Conference Display.
  2. Discussion will be limited to the topic currently identified on the Conference Display, at the Convenor’s discretion, unless the Delegates vote for a suspension of the rules to change the topic under discussion for a time certain.
  3. Delegates wishing to enter remarks into discussion will signify their wish to do so by activating the “Disc” button on their communications console. The “Disc” button allows Delegates to add not more than thirty words of comment or explanation that will be visible only to the Convenor on his communication console. It is not required that Delegates add such comment or explanation.
  4. The Convenor will accept Delegates into the discussion queue by activating their requests on his console; when accepted, their names will appear in the Discussion queue appearing on the Conference Display.
  5. Unless a specific time limit is invoked, Delegates are requested to limit their Discussion remarks to fifteen minutes or less.
  6. During discussion, Delegates will refrain from proposing actions other than Points of Order.
  7. Delegates may request that Advisors be permitted to respond to matters under discussion, such requests will be honored at the discretion of the Convenor, and the Advisor’s name added manually to the Discussion queue.
  8. Microphones, either on individual Delegates’ communications consoles, or in the Advisor’s Gallery speaking stations, will be activated only when that individual’s name has reached the top of the Discussion queue.
  9. The Convenor may at his discretion request that a speaker suspend remarks the Convenor deems not germane to the topic appearing on the Conference Display.

VII. Actions

  1. With the exception of Points of Order, actions may be proposed only when the Conference Display indicates “Action” under the Order of Business. Points of Order may be proposed at any time.
  2. With the exception of Points of Order, all actions proposed to the General Session must use the Formal Procedure. Points of Order may use the Verbal Procedure.
  3. Formal Procedure
    1. Proposing an item for action
      • Actions must be proposed in writing. Delegates may either enter the proposal directly from their communications console, or submit it to the Recording Clerks for entry. Once the proposal has been entered it will be assigned an identifier which includes the Delegate’s ID. Upon being formally initiated, the proposal will appear on the Conference Log, available to Delegates on their communications console.
      • To initiate a proposal for action, a Delegate must use the “Prop” button on their communications console, and enter their ID and the item’s identifier. The proposal will be routed to the Convenor’s display. When the Convenor selects the item, it will appear on the Conference Display, as well as Delegates’ communications consoles, highlighted in red. No further conference business may then proceed until five Delegates have entered their IDs in the “endorse” column. The display will then turn green, and the item will assume the Order of Business.
      • Once an item has assumed the Order of Business, no other business may be considered until the item has received formal disposition through a vote: Acceptance, Rejection, or Suspension. Amendments to the item are included in consideration of that item under the Order of Business.
    2. Discussing a proposed action
      • To discuss an action under consideration, Delegates may activate either the “Accept,” the “Reject,” or the “?” button on their communications consoles. The Convenor will accept Delegates into the discussion queue by activating their requests on his console; when accepted, their names will appear in the Discussion queue appearing on the Conference Display.
      • Wherever possible, the Convenor will alternate requests entered using the “Accept” button with those using the “Reject” button.
      • Requests using the “?” button will have precedence over “Accept” and “Reject” discussion requests, but the Convenor will have discretion to deactivate the microphone of any Delegate he deems to be using the “?” procedure to speak for acceptance or rejection of the action under discussion.
      • Unless a specific time limit is invoked, Delegates are requested to limit their remarks to ten minutes or less.
    3. Voting on proposed actions
      • When three “Accept” and three “Reject” speakers have been activated through the queue, the “Vote” mechanism on Delegates’ consoles will become active. In the event of three “Accept” and three “Reject” speakers not entering the queue, the Convenor will have discretion to activate the “Vote” mechanism or to suspend the item and move the Order of Business.
      • When the “Vote” mechanism becomes active, a green bar will appear on Delegates’ communications consoles. Any Delegate may then use the “Prop” button and enter a request for a vote. When five such requests have been entered, the “Vote” proposal will appear on the Convenor’s console. The Convenor has discretion to accept or ignore such proposals until a majority of Delegates have entered “Vote” requests, at which point all communications consoles will lock until a vote has been completed.
      • If the Convenor accepts a “Vote” proposal, all communications consoles will lock until the vote is completed. When the communications consoles lock for a vote, the green bar will turn red and only the “Accept” “Reject” and “Suspend” buttons will function. The consoles will remain locked until all active consoles have received a vote.
      • When a vote is complete, the result will be displayed on the Conference Display and the communications consoles will unlock. Delegates may not access voting records, which will remain under seal except under extraordinary and grave circumstances determined by the Roman Pontiff.
  4. Verbal Procedure
    • In proposing Points of Order, Delegates may activate the “Verb” button on their communications console. A red light will appear on the Convenor’s communications console and the Conference Display, with the Delegate’s ID beneath it. The Convenor will suspend discussion and activate the Delegate’s microphone.
    • The Delegate proposing the Point of Order must state the proposal succinctly. The Convenor will identify whether the proposal requires a simple majority or a super majority. Delegates then have thirty seconds to activate their “Prop” button, which records them as endorsing the proposed Point of Order.
    • No discussion is allowed on Points of Order. If three endorsements are received within thirty seconds, the communications consoles will lock for a vote, and only the “Accept” and “Reject” buttons will function until the vote is complete. If three endorsements are not received within thirty seconds, Order of Business will resume automatically.
  5. Points of Order:
    • Suspension of the Rules: To initiate, suspend, or change a time limit on the item currently under consideration.
    • Suspension of the Rules: To change the Order of Business.
    • Suspension of the Rules: Other
    • Invocation of the Rules: To terminate off-topic discussion.
    • Invocation of the Rules: To address proceedings or actions contrary to the Rules of Order, Conference Rules, or the Constitution of the Conference.
    • Amendment of the Rules: To change the Rules of the Conference.
    • Amendment of the Constitution: To change the Constitution of the Conference (requires a supermajority vote of two-thirds.)
  6. Actions of the Session:
    • Instructions to Committees: The General Session may vote by a simple majority to instruct Committees.
    • Acceptance of Committee Submissions for Discussion: The General Session may vote by a simple majority to accept materials or proposals from Committees for discussion and action by the General Session.
    • Initiation of Discussion: The General Session may vote by a simple majority to initiate discussion of items submitted by Committees for action.
    • Requests for Information or Clarification: The General Session may vote by a simple majority to formally request information or clarification from the Roman Pontiff or any office of the Curia.
    • Amendment or Alteration of Committee Submissions: The General Session may vote by a simple majority to amend or alter any materials or proposals accepted from Committees.
    • The Seal of the Conference: The General Session may vote by a supermajority of two-thirds to affix the Seal of the Conference to any document or material for submission to the Roman Pontiff.
    • Other Actions: The General Session may undertake other actions such as the establishment of committees, by the affirmative vote of a simple majority.


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