The CNR is the governing body of ICN and sets policy at the macro level, including admission of members, election of the Board of Directors, amendments to the constitution, and setting of fees. A National Representative is a nurse selected by a member association to be its representative, who may or may not be the president of that association, but who meets the ICN definition of nurse. The nurse accompanying the National Representative of a member association may participate in meetings of the CNR but has no right to vote except when acting as the authorised proxy for the national representative. At meetings of the CNR the right to speak is limited to:
- members of the CNR, ICN Board of Directors, the ICN Chief Executive Officer and the accompanying person from the member association;
- official observers designated by the ICN Board of Directors, on selected topics as determined by the chairperson of the meeting;
- guests invited by ICN to speak on specific topics for the time allowed by the presiding officer of the meeting.
The CNR meets every two years at a venue decided by the Board after considering applications from countries expressing an interest in hosting a CNR meeting. The ICN Congress is attached to the CNR every four years.