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It started as an organization of representatives of governments who had certain powers given by their contributors. It served as a deliberative body for debates and disputes between its member governments, or even violations of agreements between them. It could intrude itself into a quarrel if a party violated a fundamental provision of universal law.
Each government sent only one representative (bringing along a number of advisors) who voted as many times determined by the size of the population he represented. Eventually they became independent ministers and had total immunity from prosecution arising from any action in the meetings. The vote was cast during the first Standard day an issue was announced.
Officers were elected each time by the delegates themselves, and secretaries were employeed and served at its pleasure; the best of them retained their position for years.
Subsidiary structures aided the Landsraad for some issues, such as the Sysselraads, regional divisions, and the Landsraad High Council, between the Sysselraads and the Landsraad itself. Any legal dispute between worlds not under the same govenrment could be forwarded to the LAndsraad if had not been decided a a lower level.
The Landsraad collected no taxes and had no armed forces, depending upon the voluntary strength of its members, in case a decision taken during its sessions needed to be enforced. The rules ignore rebellion conceived as an internal matter inside a planet. There was also a distinction between wars of reasonable cause and imperialistic expansion.
During the Butlerian Jihad the Landsraad numbered 13000 planets. Before the expansion of the empire, voting members exceeded 4000. The Jihad changed the nature of most of the participating governments.
For the first time their meetings became regularly scheduled after the reorganization proposed by Iason Atreides in 681 AG. instead of a chaotic personal rule now it became a trierarchy: The Imperial seat, the Landsraad and CHOAM and the Spacing Guild.