Concept 2

Short Form:

“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 world affairs.”

Long Form:

“When, in 1955, the A.A. 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.”

Principle of the Concept:


One Thing You Need To Know:

The Conference Listens – Then Speaks

The Conference Listens – Then Speaks

Once the group shares its conscience, the Conference develops a collective conscience (via Conference Actions) so that effective action can be taken by the chosen service representatives (which are the General Service Board [Trustees], A.A. World Services, Inc. [which includes the General Service Office], and A.A. Grapevine, Inc.) who are given operational authority. Ok, so why them?

How could thousands of A.A. groups actually manage A.A. world services? Talk about a hot mess that would be! 🙂 The conference listens to the groups, then speaks, thereby passing execution responsibility onto the appropriate service entity tasked with implementation. Generally, no action can be taken unless the conference directs it to be done (See Concept 3 for additional information on this).

from Twelve Concepts of World Service Illustrated

Concept I establishes the “final responsibility and ultimate authority” of the A.A. groups; but, in actual practice, how are they to manage A.A.’s service affairs? By delegation, Concept II declares. Bill and Dr. Bob, entrusted by the early groups to get the program going and to spread the message, found nonalcoholic friends to help them.

They formed a trusteeship and delegated to it the responsibility for finances, the Big Book and other literature, public information, the service office and the A.A. Grapevine. However, as the trustees constantly looked to the co-founders for advice and guidance and the groups also continued to hold them accountable, it was evident that the leadership should be transferred to the A.A. groups as a whole. But if the groups were to carry on their primary purpose, they would have to delegate their leadership role to a General Service Conference.

They do this by electing a General Service Representative for each group. These G.S.R.s meet regularly in area assemblies and every two years elect a delegate from among their number. Every April, the delegates from the 93 areas in the U.S. and Canada meet for six days with the trustees of the General Service Board, the staffs of the General Service Office and the A.A. Grapevine and certain other service workers. Thus, this General Service Conference of A.A. is “the actual voice and effective conscience of our whole Society in its world affairs.”

The text above is an excerpt from the A.A. conference approved pamphlet (P8) The Twelve Concepts for World Service Illustrated. Download your own copy of the full pamphlet.


  1. Do we have an understanding of the history of the General Service Conference (the “Conference”)?
  2. What is a Conference Advisory Action?
  3. Does our home group’s G.S.R., D.C.M., area delegate report back to the group on the highlights of the Conference and Conference Advisory Actions?
  4. Is our group meeting its wider Seventh Tradition responsibilities?

This checklist offered as part of Service Material from the General Service Office (SMF-91).  Download your copy of the complete checklist.