The Concord is long and confusing, but most of its length is highly technical and the main content can be boiled down to about five clauses.
The First Clause: Light Authority
This clause recognises the Light Alliance as the governing body over the magical world, which as far as most mages are concerned means the planet Earth. Essentially this clause states that the Light mages and their associated Councils rule the world. It’s the first and most important clause, because it’s the justification for all the others: “we can pass these laws because we’re the ones in charge.”
Although supreme authority officially rests with the Light Alliance (the old wartime alliance of international Light factions) the mages who drafted the Concord knew that the individual Light factions were too independent to submit to central control for long. As such, the Concord delegates individual authority down to the individual governments of the magical ‘nations’ that form the Alliance. A national-level decision can be overruled by a sufficient vote of Alliance members, but this virtually never happens. Effectively, the Light Councils of each nation have authority over their territory, subject to the Concord.
This first clause is also the one that gets broken the most. Dark and independent mages don’t recognise Light authority – if they did, they’d be Light mages. From a certain point of view, everything that a Dark or independent mage does breaks the Concord.
The issue with mage laws has always been getting mages to agree to them. Mages are, generally speaking, a wilful lot. They don’t submit to control easily, and in the case of the Concord there are a lot of reasons for a mage to ignore it. The Concord was never signed – it was imposed by force, and even if it had been signed, it would have been in the middle of last century. The majority of mages currently alive weren’t even born back then.
The real problem is that even if the Dark and independent mages were interested in following the Concord, they aren’t a unified group. There’s no Dark leader, which means there’s no-one to sign the Concord on their behalf even if they wanted to (and if someone did it, no other Dark mage would listen to them). The same applies to independent mages, although in their case their lack of participation is less ideological and more a matter of disinterest.
The result of all this is that when it comes right down to it the only thing that really keeps the Concord any authority is force. Dark and independent mages obeyed the Concord because the Light Council would have beaten the crap out of them if they didn’t. While the might-makes-right approach has the merit of being straightforward, it only works when the enforcers are clearly more powerful than everyone else.
Balance of Power
It’s now the early years of the twenty-first century. With a few exceptions, the mages who fought in the Gate Rune War are gone, and a new generation has grown up in relative safety. The Dark mages have rebuilt their numbers, and the Light mages have grown accustomed to peace. Light mages are more organised and more numerous, but their Dark counterparts have far more combat veterans. If the Gate Rune War was fought all over again, it’s no longer clear who would win.
Fortunately, at the moment neither side has much of a motivation to try, since both are reasonably happy with the status quo. Smaller factions of both Dark and Light oppose the Concord, but the majority are willing to accept it for the simple reason that by and large, it allows them to do what they want. And so for the most part the mages of Britain accept the Concord, not so much out of devotion to its ideals but because it’s convenient to do so.