The General Service Conference of AA has become, for nearly every practical purpose, the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole Society in its world affairs.
When, in 1955, the AA groups confirmed the permanent charter for their General Service Conference, they thereby delegated to the Conference complete authority for the active maintenance of our world services and thereby made the Conference—excepting for any change in the Twelve Traditions or in Article 12 of the Conference Charter—the actual voice and the effective conscience for our whole Society.
What problems does Concept II solve?
· Authority must be delegated for AA's work to be effective and efficient—the groups cannot directly manage the telephone service, literature production, etc.
· The ultimate authority, expressed through group conscience, is scattered amongst many groups; representation is necessary to bring this together to make decisions.
· Representative bodies (e.g. Conference) provide the link between the groups and those exercising authority on their behalf, the voice guiding the executive arms of AA.
Concept II ideas
· Ultimate authority resides in the groups; this authority is delegated to those who have immediate authority for the actual work of AA.
· Conference should be a representative cross-section of the entire fellowship.
· For services to be actively maintained, servants need to be dedicated to the group conscience and disciplined in their work.
· Conference itself cannot itself change the general principles under which it operates—this authority always remains with the groups.
· This principle therefore applies to any representative bodies in AA.
· The principle of subsidiarity applies—we delegate immediate responsibility and authority to representatives only where it must be delegated because the responsibility cannot be discharged at group level.
· This prevents excessive power from accumulating in representatives—decisions continue to be made by the group as a whole wherever practical (see Concept XII).
Concept II questions
· When I am offered service, do I remember that AA has no hands but mine?
· Am I disciplined in my dedication to service?
· When I take up service, do I remember my authority is only immediate—that ultimate authority resides with the groups, and that I remain forever accountable?
Quotations (from Bill W's essay)
'It is self-evident that the thousands of AA groups and the many thousands of AA embers, scattered as they are all over the globe, cannot of themselves actually manage and conduct our manifold world services. The group conscience is out there among them, and so are the needed funds.'
'The power of the groups and members to alter their world service structure and to criticize its operation is virtually supreme. They have all of the final responsibility and authority that there is.'
'In order to get effective action, the groups must delegate the actual operational authority to chosen service representatives who are fully empowered to speak and to act for them.'
'The group conscience of AA could not be heard unless a properly chosen Conference was fully trusted to speak for it respecting most matters of world service.'
'The final say—the ultimate sanction in matters of large importance—has not been given to the Trustees alone.'