Everyone knows it exists but how does Worlds Council work and who makes it up. Well at its core is a simple idea. Each country gets to send one delegate to the meeting to vote on the issues being discussed. However like most international committees things tend to be a bit more complicated in practice.
Each country sends one delegate. They will often have observers to keep them company but in effect it is one country one delegate. How that delegate is selected can vary from country to country. Often it is the head of the national association (e.g. Canada). Where no national association exists the delegate can be selected by an election prior to the championships (e.g. England often elect their delegate at the weekend of the English Mace). Where there is no national association and no suitable opportunity to elect a delegate then the participants at Worlds from that nation will meet and select their delegate (e.g. this is how Ireland often select their delegate). Where there is a dispute on who the delegate is it is not the role of the council to decide who the delegate is. At the meeting in Glasgow two delegates turned up from one country and started bickering about which of them was the delegate. I threw them out and told them to come back with one agreed delegate which they did within 2 minutes.
Each country gets a number of votes (from 4 down to 1) depending on the number of institutions they have sent to previous Worlds. In my time as chair of council I have seen countries misunderstand the rules and turn up with a delegate for each vote. I have also heard of delegates wishing to split their vote (i.e. one for bid A and one for bid C). That isn’t the way it works. One delegate casts one vote and that one vote is then weighted 4, 3, 2 or 1.
The national delegates are the only voting members of council. But there are a number of other members of council who can attend and address the meeting but cannot vote.
The outgoing Chair of the Committee. Each council elects a committee to work on council issues over the year between meetings. The committee chair elected at the previous meeting is expected to chair the next council meeting. They don’t have a vote but are there to control proceedings. They also should issue an agenda in advance. Where the Chair of Committee cannot attend they normally step down and appoint a successor (generally another member of the committee) to chair the meeting.
The outgoing committee. As mentioned previously each council elects a committee to deal with issues over the year. This committee comprises Chair, Registrar, Secretary, Women’s officer, Equity officer and Regional Delegates. Again these members can attend and speak at council. They often have reports to present and proposals to put to a vote. There can also be sub-committees that work on a specific issue separate to the main committee. Again representatives of that sub-committee can attend and speak at council to present their findings.
Emeritus Members. The Emeritus members are life members of council. They have been voted to that position at previous council meetings. They are there to provide a sort of institutional memory. They have many, many years of experience at running Worlds and have seen most of the challenges that an org comm or council are likely to experience. They don’t have a vote and may not even play a very active role unless called upon but their experience and expertise is there if required. The Emeritus members are Colm Flynn, Ian Lising, Omar Sallahudin and Ray D’Cruz. Not every council will add members to the list of Emeritus delegates. It is seen as an acknowledgement of years of outstanding work for Worlds and someone who has a depth of knowledge and experience that would be a loss to the council were they to simply drift away.
The Organisation committee of the current Worlds. They are expected to present a report on how the championships are progressing. Topics they normally cover are registration, operational issues, finance, etc. Running Worlds is a complicated process (seem the article on bidding for and hosting Worlds). Even the best championships will have questions to answer.
The Adjudication team: The Chief Adjudicator and Deputy Chief Adjudicators are expected to be at the meeting to answer any questions about the adjudication of the tournament and the tab system. They are part of the current Org Comm but are also expected to be somewhat independent from it (especially the DCAs) so they will be expected to address issues separate from the Org comm.
The organising committee of the previous Worlds. They are expected to present a report on how the last championship ran. They will discuss what issues arose and what was done to overcome them. Hopefully the learnings from each championships should help improve future ones. Finance is often a key element of this segment of the meeting.
The organising committee of the next Worlds. Each worlds is awarded two years in advance. However at each council meeting the next hosts are expected to turn up and explain their progress. This is an important step as it will give council a clear idea of how well prepared they are. If a host does not take this seriously or does not have sufficient work done to reassure council that Worlds will happen then they can be stripped of the right to host. This happened to Zagreb at the Council meeting in 2004 and MMU were given the right to host Worlds in 2005 instead. Since then hosts are expected to issue status updates on e-mail roughly every 6 months so if there are serious issues then hopefully they will be corrected before the council meeting.
The bidding committees looking to host Worlds in two years. As mentioned above the right to host Worlds is awarded two years in advance. This is the most important element of the council meeting. Rival bidders will present their proposal for hosting Worlds. See the article on bidding for Worlds for more details on this. If there is only one bidder then the vote will be a simple yes/no to accept the bid. If there are two then it is a straight runoff. If there are three or more then a series of votes eliminating the bidder with the lowest votes each time. This will continue until one bid gets a majority of votes cast.
Of course other than that you can have observers calling in to watch proceedings. However the above are the only people who can speak at the meeting and the national delegates are the only ones that can vote.
There will be two meetings. One held on December 28th (the day before competitive debates start). The main meeting happens on New Year’s Day. The hosts are required to provide facilities for the meeting and Lunch for the delegates. World’s Council has no money itself and therefore relies on the host to accommodate the meeting. When council seriously overruns (as it did in 2004 due to the crisis over the next year’s host and the need to reopen bids) then a third meeting can be held another day before the end of the tournament.
Here is a typical agenda for World’s Council (it is based on the agenda Ian Lising sent out for Council in 2008).
Preliminary Council Meeting 28th December
• Distribution of Meeting Minutes from previous Council meeting
• Roll Call
Delegate Names (one per country)
Voting status (What weight a country gets 1,2,3,or 4 based on prior participation)
• Institution review
N-1 Review (each institution must send N-1 judges where N is the number of teams they are sending)
• Speaker Review
4 year rule (speakers can only compete at 4 world Championships)
ESL participants (as assessed by an ESL/EFL committee)
EFL participants (as assessed by an ESL/EFL committee)
• Distribution of Bid Materials for two year’s time
Council Meeting 1st January
• Roll Call
• Previous Worlds Council Minutes
Vote to accept minutes
• Last year’s host Report & Accounts
Last Year’s Rep to report on Tournament
Last Year’s Rep to present final set of financial accounts
• Current year’s host Report & Accounts
Current host rep to report on Tournament
Current host rep to present initial accounts
• Next year’s Worlds Bid Defense
Bid Defense Presentation
Questions from council members
Vote to Confirm next year’s hosts
• Bids for Worlds in two years
Bidders present bids (order to be determined by random draw)
Questions from Council Members
Vote on hosts for Worlds in two years time
• Lunch Break
• Constitution Review
• Committee Reports
• Other Business
• World Executive Committee Elections
So that’s roughly how council works. I hope it gives you some guidance on the political machine that runs away in the background.