"There will also be seen in these Concepts a number of principles
which have already become traditional to our services, but which have never been
clearly articulated and reduced to writing. For example: the "Right of
Decision" gives our service leaders a proper discretion and latitude; the
"Right of Participation" gives each world servant a voting status
commensurate with his (or her) responsibility, and "Participation" further
guarantees that each service board or committee will always possess the several
elements and talents that will insure effective functioning. The "Right of
Appeal" protects and encourages minority opinion; and the ""Right of
Petition" makes certain that grievances can be heard, and properly acted upon.
These general principles can of course be used to good effect throughout our entire
From the Introduction to "Twelve
Concepts for World Service" by Bill W. as adopted by the Annual General Service
Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous on April 26, 1962
Also see "Concepts Checklist" in Member Services (login required)
The Twelve Concepts (Short Form)
- Final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always
reside in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship.
- The General Service Conference of A.A. has become, for nearly every practical
purpose, the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole Society in its
- To insure effective leadership, we should endow each element of A.A.; the
Conference, the General Service Board and its service corporations, staffs,
committees, and executives; with a traditional "Right of Decision."
- At all responsible levels, we ought to maintain a traditional "Right of
Participation," allowing a voting representation in reasonable proportion to
the responsibility that each must discharge.
- Throughout our structure, a traditional "Right of Appeal" ought to
prevail, so that minority opinion will be heard and personal grievances receive
- The Conference recognizes that the chief initiative and active responsibility in
most world service matters should be exercised by the trustee members of the
Conference acting as the General Service Board.
- The Charter and Bylaws of the General Service Board are legal instruments,
empowering the trustees to manage and conduct world service affairs. The Conference
Charter is not a legal document; it relies upon tradition and the A.A. purse for final
- The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of overall policy and
finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly
active services, exercising this through their ability to elect all the directors of
- Good service leadership at all levels is indispensable for our future functioning
and safety. Primary world service leadership, once exercised by the founders, must
necessarily be assumed by the trustees.
- Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with
the scope of such authority well defined.
- The trustees should always have the best possible committees, corporate service
directors, executives, staffs, and consultants. Composition, qualifications, induction
procedures, and rights and duties will always be matters of serious concern.
- The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it
never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds
and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in
a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions
by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that its
actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it
never perform acts of government, and that, like the Society it serves, it will always
remain democratic in thought and action.
A.A. World Services, Inc.