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Ministries were a political and military subdivision of the Covenant empire.
In Covenant governance, the High Council tasked lesser councils with bureaucratic oversight and day-to-day governance of the empire, with lesser councils thus issuing edicts to the various subordinate ministries to enact their decrees and laws. In practice however, each ministry was effectively an independent body and acted with impunity. Multiple ministries were sometimes formed into work groups called assemblies, used to tackle specific problems identified by the High Council.
Each ministry acted as a governing body of the Covenant, directing vital religious and secular activites within the empire. The power and prestige of their groups waxed and waned as they waged bloody internal wars for bureaucratic dominance and promotion of their particular brand of orthodoxy. Ministries controlled a large number of independent martial organisations, with the empire as a whole not having one strict standing military. During the Human-Covenant War, three ministries served as the primary military force encountered by humans.
A given ministry is led by a San'Shyuum minister, with a vice minister under him. Some ministries may also employ a Minor Minister. The ministries employed senior and junior staffers below these leadership positions.
Known ministries of the Covenant
At the time of the empire's dissolution, there were hundreds of ministries within the Covenant. These ministries generally had broadly overlapping spheres of influence and duty, which promoted internal competition and infighting - and allowed the Hierarchy and High Council absolute authority over the Covenant's imperial holdings for millennia. Ministries could be created and dissolved with relative ease, and by the Covenant's end some existed purely to create busywork for particularly ambitious members of the High Council.