12 Concepts of A.A.


The Twelve Concepts for World Service were written by A.A.’s co-founder Bill W. in 1962, and were adopted in the “short form” by the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1971 and are an interpretation of A.A.’s world service structure as it emerged through A.A.’s early history and experience.

These Concepts provide a group of related principles to help ensure that various elements of A.A.’s service structure responsive and responsible to those they serve. They reveal the evolution by which it has arrived in its present form, and they detail the experience and reasoning on which our operation stands today.

The Twelve Concepts
(Spiritual Principles in Parenthesis)

Concept 1 – Final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship. (COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY)

Concept 2 – 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. (TRUSTWORTHINESS, DEMOCRACY)

Concept 3 – 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.” (MUTUAL TRUST, RIGHT OF DECISION)

Concept 4 – 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. (EQUALITY, RIGHT OF PARTICIPATION)

Concept 5 – Throughout our structure, a traditional “Right of Appeal” ought to prevail, so that minority opinion will be heard and personal grievances receive careful consideration. (RIGHT OF APPEAL, CONDSIDERATION)

Concept 6 – 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. (ACCOUNTABILITY, ACTIVE RESPONSIBILITY)

Concept 7 – 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 effectiveness. (BALANCE, COOPERATION, EFFECTIVENESS)

Concept 8 – The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of over-all 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 these entities. (CONSISTENCY, DELEGATION, CUSTODIAL OVERSIGHT)

Concept 9 – 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. (EMULATION, LEADERSHIP, VISION)

Concept 10 – Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with the scope of such authority well defined. (CLARITY)

Concept 11 – 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. (RESPECT, SUPPORTIVENESS)

Concept 12 – 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, substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government; that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action. (SPIRITUALITY, PRUDENCE, COMPASSION)

Twelve Concepts Illustrated