Terms of reference for council members

The council of Chatham House, home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs for over 90 years, is the governing body of the institute, responsible for overseeing the delivery of the institute’s objectives, its reputation, the quality of its work and the management of its finances.

Council members should be aware that they are trustees of the institute, which is a registered charity. 

Chatham House is governed by a Charter and Bye Laws which lay down the objects of the institute and the powers of council. The Charter and Bye Laws also lay down the responsibilities of council members, which include:

  • agreeing, in conjunction with the director, the institute’s annual strategic plan
  • agreeing the annual business plan and budget
  • monitoring performance against the plan and budget
  • accepting the auditors’ report and acting on recommendations
  • agreeing the annual report and accounts.

The particular priorities for the institute for the coming period are to:

  • expand the institute’s inter-disciplinary research so that it can best inform the international policy agenda
  • communicate more dynamically, strategically and systematically with the institute’s membership and other audiences, particularly through the website and social media 
  • ensure that the position of the Institute as one of the world’s premier locations for the debate of international affairs is maintained in a more competitive market for ideas
  • support the activities of the Second Century Committee in expanding the institute’s funding base by securing endowment support for its research and other key activities
  • Grow and deepen the institute’s international relationships through the Academy for Leadership in International Affairs and by holding international events.

Council members can contribute to achieving the institute’s objectives by:

  • contributing management experience and skills including by serving on committees of council or specific advisory groups
  • advising the director on the institute’s research agenda
  • raising the profile of the institute’s work with its key constituencies in government, the media, the private sector and civil society.
  • chairing and/or participating in members events and conferences
  • recommending and facilitating approaches to prospective speakers
  • supporting the institute’s fundraising priorities by introducing or recruiting new corporate and individual members; helping to raise sponsorship for research and conferences; and offering guidance on raising research funding from foundations and other grant making bodies.
  • contributing personally as a sponsor of activities or via the Annual Fund
  • developing the institute’s academic links

Council members are elected for three years and may stand for re-election at the end of their term.

Council members are expected to attend council meetings, of which there are 4 each year, usually held from 5-7 pm on a Tuesday evening, as well as the annual strategy away day and the annual general meeting.

Council members are required to sign a confirmation that they have read the institute’s policy on related party transactions and will comply with the requirements to avoid any conflicts of interest.