The Council is the governing body of SESAME. It came into existence on 15 April 2004 after UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), which is the depository of the Statutes of SESAME, had received the required instruments of acceptance of the draft statutes from six eligible potential Members.
It replaced the international Interim Council of SESAME that served from June 1999 to 14 April 2004 and had been set up to take the necessary measures to prepare the establishment and operation of an international centre.
The SESAME Council consists of Members and Observers, who may be potential initial Members or Observers, other states and international organisations. A potential initial Member or Observer is an entity that was a Member or Observer in the international Interim Council of SESAME.
The SESAME Council has all the powers required for the running and administration of the Centre and determines SESAME's policy in scientific, technical and administrative matters. It adopts its own Rules of Procedure and the Centre's programme and budget, and decides on the upper and lower limits of Members' contributions to the annual operating budget. It approves SESAME's financial and staff regulations. It examines the annual reports submitted to it by the Director of the Centre and issues him/her with such directives as it thinks fit. It reviews expenditures and approves and publishes annual accounts of SESAME. It appoints the Directorate of SESAME and decides on the establishment of staff posts required.
Each Member and Observer may have up to two Delegates serving on the Council, ideally one representing his/her Governmental Authorities and the second representing national scientific interests. Both delegates are nominated by their Governmental Authorities. They may be accompanied to Council meetings by up to two Advisers. A representative of the Director-General of UNESCO also sits on the Council. Each Member and the representative of the Director-General of UNESCO have one vote. Observers have no vote.
The Council is to meet in ordinary session at least once a year. It may meet in an extraordinary session if so summoned by the President, either on his/her own initiative or on that of the Director-General of UNESCO, or at the request of one-third of its Members. During the early years of the project the Council is meeting in ordinary session twice a year.
The Council is advised on all matters of financial management by the Finance Committee.
The Council has two Committees to advise it on SESAME’s scientific programme and accelerator systems, namely the:
Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) for all matters relating to the science programme of SESAME, and the current and future overall organization and implementation of this programme, as well as facilities for it;
Machine Advisory Committee (MAC) for all technical and operational matters relating to the SESAME accelerator systems.