Mass Effect: Ghosts
The Council is an executive committee composed of representatives from the Asari Republics, the Turian Hierarchy, and the Salarian Union. Though they have no official power over the independent governments of other species, the Council’s decisions carry great weight throughout the galaxy. No single Council race is strong enough to defy the other two, and all have a vested interest in compromise and cooperation.
Each of the council species has general characteristics associated with the various aspects of governing the galaxy. The Asari are typically seen as diplomats and mediators. The Salarians gather intelligence and information. The Turians provide the bulk of the military and peacekeeping forces.
Any species granted an embassy on the Citadel is considered an associate member, bound by the accords of the Citadel Conventions. Associate members may bring issues to the attention of the Council, though they have no input on the decision. The human Systems Alliance became an associate member of the Citadel in 2165.
Citadel Council: Formation
The Citadel Council was founded in 500 BCE by the Asari and Salarians, the first two races to independently discover the Citadel, believed to be a triumph of the lost Prothean civilization, at the hub of the mass relay network. It was the Asari who suggested forming a governing body aboard the space station in partnership with the newcomer Salarians. The founding of the Council marks the beginning of the Galactic Standard (GS) calendar, the year 0 GS.
Over the next 500 years, the Council rapidly expanded outward from the Citadel, encountering several new races and incorporating them into the growing galactic community. The Volus were the earliest known race that the Council made first contact with; in 200 BCE, the Council granted the Volus an embassy at the Citadel in recognition of their contributions to Citadel space, including the Unified Banking Act which established the credit as a standard currency. Along with the Volus, the Batarians, Elcor, Hanar, and Quarians were also welcomed to the fold during this time.
Citadel Council: The Rachni Wars
The times of peaceful first contact ended abruptly for the Council with the accidental discovery of the Rachni around 1 CE. The hive-minded, insect-like Rachni reacted with extreme hostility and initiated a large-scale war with the races of Citadel space. Negotiation with the Rachni queens was impossible; the queens could not be contacted in their underground nests on the Rachni worlds.
A turning point in the war came when the Salarians made first contact with the Krogan in 80 CE, who had been living in the post-apocalyptic ruins of their homeworld Tuchanka for nearly two thousand years. The Krogan were uplifted and manipulated into serving as soldiers for the Council. The resilient Krogan succeeded where other Citadel races could not. Able to survive on the harsh Rachni worlds, the Krogan stormed Rachni nests and exterminated queens one by one. By 300 CE, the Rachni were declared extinct. As a reward for their service, the Krogan were given a new, pristine homeworld. A lasting result of the Rachni Wars was the Council’s establishment of new laws which prohibited the activation of uncharted mass relays
Citadel Council: The Krogan Rebellion and the Turians
Some 400 years after the end of the Rachni Wars, the Council once again found itself embroiled in a galaxy-wide conflict. The Krogan, having exploded in numbers and encroaching on the territories of other races, were asked by the Council to withdraw from the Asari colony of Lusia. Outraged, the Krogan refused. The Council ordered the recently-formed Special Tactics and Reconnaissance division to make a preemptive strike against Krogan infrastructures, and the Krogan Rebellions began.
This conflict persisted for a century, ending only after the Council made first contact with the Turians, who agreed the Krogan were a threat and declared war against them. The Turians inflicted a lethal blow using the Salarian-developed genophage; without the ability to quickly replenish their forces, the Krogan dwindled. Following the Rebellions, the Citadel Conventions were drawn up. Since 900 CE, the Turians have filled the military and peacekeeping niche in Citadel space vacated by the Krogan. In recognition of their role during and after the Rebellions, the Turians were inducted into the Citadel Council as the third race with full membership.
Citadel Council: Expansion, Conflict, and Humanity
The next thousand years were relatively peaceful ones for the Council, interrupted only by some minor galactic incidents and the Geth War of 1895 CE. In that conflict, the Quarians were driven from their worlds by the Geth, machines created to serve the Quarians that had achieved artificial intelligence and rebelled. With invasion by the Geth an immediate threat, the Council refused the Quarians’ pleas for help and revoked their Citadel embassy, and also implemented restrictive laws on AI research and development.
During this time the Council continued to explore the galaxy, encountering new races with varied success. One diplomatic failure occurred with the Yahg, a pre-spaceflight race discovered by Council surveyors in 2125 CE. A Council delegation was dispatched to the Yahg homeworld Parnack, expecting to quickly establish diplomatic relations. Unfortunately, the predatory Yahg misinterpreted the delegation’s non-subservient behaviors as an attitude of contempt and promptly slaughtered the delegates. The Council responded by cutting off contact with the Yahg and declaring Parnack off-limits to Citadel races; the Council asserted that the extremely aggressive Yahg were poorly suited to integrate with the galactic community.
In 2157 CE, the Council intervened in the Relay 314 Incident. A brief conflict instigated by the Turians against the newly-encountered humans for what the Turians viewed as a breach of galactic law, the First Contact War, as humans referred to it, was brought to an end when both sides prepared to escalate their involvement. The Council revealed itself and the existence of the galactic community to humanity and brokered a peace agreement which forced the Turians to pay significant reparations. Humanity quickly rose to prominence and was granted an embassy on the Citadel in 2165 CE.
Citadel Council: Citadel Conventions
These diplomatic talks occurred in the wake of the Krogan Rebellions, as a response to the destruction of the conflict and an attempt to distance the Council from the brutal Krogan warfare.
The Conventions regulate the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction. A WMD causes environmental alteration to a world. A bomb that produces a large crater is not considered a WMD; a bomb that causes a “nuclear winter” is.
Use of WMD is forbidden on “garden” worlds like Earth, with ecospheres that can readily support a population. If a habitable world is destroyed, it will not be replaced for millions of years. The Conventions do not forbid the use of WMD on hostile worlds or in sealed space-station environments. Many militaries continue to develop and maintain stockpiles.
The Conventions graded Weapons of Mass Destruction into tiers of concern. Tier I is the greatest threat to galactic peace.
TIER I: Large kinetic impacters, such as asteroid drops or de-orbited space stations. Effectively free and available in any system (in the form of debris left over from planetary accretion), kinetic impacters are the weapons of choice for terrorists and “third galaxy” nations.
TIER II: Uncontrolled self-replicating weapons, such as nanotechnology, viral or bacteriological organisms, “Von Neumann devices”, and destructive computer viruses. These weapons can lie dormant for millennia, waiting for a careless visitor to carry them on to another world.
TIER III: Large energy-burst weapons such as nuclear or antimatter warheads.
TIER IV: Alien species deliberately introduced to crowd out native forms necessary for the health of an ecosystem. Ecological tampering can take years to bear fruit, making it difficult to prove.
Citadel Council: Treaty of Farixen
Due to the destructive potential of dreadnoughts, the Council races agreed at the Farixen Naval Conference to fix a ratio of dreadnoughts construction between themselves. At the top of pyramid is the peacekeeping Turian fleet. Below the Turians are the other Council races, currently the Asari and the Salarians. Council associate races are at the bottom. The Human Systems Alliance is part of this last group.
The ratio of Turian to Council to associate dreadnoughts is 5:3:1, for every dreadnought the Humans are permitted to build, the Asari have three, and the Turians five.