One World, One AA, One Language of the Heart

At our recent regional assembly, a very interesting question came up: “How do the different national AA service structures work together?” As one of CER’s Conference Delegates, I volunteered to explore this and found some useful and enlightening information. I did this by reviewing literature and seeking guidance from older, sober members who were active in service.

My research revealed that AA does not have an official global structure as such. However Concept II [1] and the original Conference Charter [2] describe the current working arrangement that has become the active voice and the effective conscience of our Fellowship in its world affairs.

Firstly, there are numerous “General Service Conferences”, or GSCs, that have formed around the world because of linguistic, geographical and growth considerations. Secondly, all of these sections of AA are brought together for mutual consultation and a cross linking of delegates via the World Service Meeting (WSM).

Many countries have formed their own GSC; Great Britain, Australia, Poland, Russia, and India to name a few. Each of them rely on the Twelve Steps and Traditions, as well as being responsible to the groups and members within their boundaries. Although the recovery programme remains exactly the same, each GSC has individualised some part of AA to better integrate with their local culture, language, legal systems, etc., often with the initial help of other, more established GSC’s. Although the US/Canadian GSC, as the original and largest, has naturally assumed the senior role, it is important to note that no GSC has any authority over another and, like AA groups, each is autonomous. For countries that are unable to form their own GSC yet, AA assistance is usually provided by the neighbouring and more established structures. For more details on how our fellowship provides this assistance, our outgoing GSO General Secretary, Roger B. has written an excellent article on “Country to Country Sponsorship” that will be published in the Autumn 2018 Edition of the AASN this September.

The fellowship’s first WSM was held in New York in 1969, where delegates from the US/Canadian and the other newly created GSC’s around the world all came together, including two delegates from AA Great Britain (AA GB). In 1974, AA GB was awarded the privilege of hosting the WSM in London, the first to be held outside of the US [3].

Held every two years, the most recent WSM took place in New York in October 2016, with the theme “One World, One A.A., One Language of the Heart”. 61 delegates, representing 40 different countries or linguistic zones around the world, were gathered together to share their experience, strength, and hope, and to strengthen A.A.’s worldwide connections. Their primary purpose was to carry the message to the still-suffering alcoholic, wherever in the world he or she may be [4].

Discussion topics included; “The AA Home Group”, “The International Literature Fund” (providing start-up literature for those countries unable to finance their own translations), and “Social Media and AA”. Country service highlights were presented by delegates from places such as Argentina and Australia, through to the Ukraine and the US/Canada. Also present were French-speaking Europe and German-speaking Europe with unique structures that follow their language, often crossing over national borders.

The WSM has four working committees; Agenda, Literature/Publishing, Policy/Admissions/Finance, and Working with Others. Similar to our own GSC, their recommendations were presented and voted on by the delegates. Although it is important to note that the WSM recommendations are only for the WSM itself, and are not binding to any participating section. That being said, the experience gained is generally taken back by the delegates and shared throughout their own service structure.

To close out the last WSM, the Serenity Prayer was recited in the 28 languages spoken by participating sections, which wonderfully celebrated just how far AA’s message has been carried around the world.

For a more in-depth record of the 24th WSM, please refer to the Final Report online in the links below.

The 25th WSM will be held in October 2018 in Durban, South Africa and will feature another global sharing of experience, strength, and hope. There will also be detailed committee work on contemporary topics such as; “Literature and Its Place in an Internet Environment” and “Attracting Members into Service”. CER will be represented by our WSM delegate from AA Great Britain.

I hope this helps provide an answer to the question, “How do the different national AA service structures work together?”

Yours in service,

Matt S.
Delegate to Conference, CER

[1]See Twelve Concepts for World Service. Bill W. 1962. Concept II. Page 8.

[2]See Appendix A. Original Conference Charter – 1955, North American Section, 2. S94.

[3]See AA GB Structure Handbook. A Brief History of AA in Great Britain. Page 10.

[4]See Final Report Alcoholics Anonymous 24thWorld Service Meeting 2017 “One World, One A.A., One Language of the Heart”.