World Assembly forum
- This article mainly addresses WA forum activities as they apply to the WA General Assembly; forum conventions used by the WA Security Council may radically vary.
The World Assembly forum is the section of the NS forums devoted to the discussion of the World Assembly (formerly the United Nations), mainly debating resolutions and proposals, but not necessarily gameplay issues involving WA membership. The forum is somewhat unique in being semi-IC, semi-OOC. Notable features of the forum include the commonly-used 'ping-pong' debating style, the Strangers' Bar, a directory of WA ambassadors, and a multitude of running jokes.
- It should be noted that the following is not an official, or even necessarily regular pattern for the process of legislation; it is merely one that many WA forum regulars encourage.
So, you have an idea for a WA resolution, but aren't sure what to do next? The WA forum is the place to go. The following is a basic summary of the typical path of an idea from first conception into a completed resolution.
Many players have ideas for resolutions. However, most of these never make it past the drafting stage, either because they are rejected as being poorly written, unimportant, illegal, or just a bad idea, or because the player fails to follow through. However, those who do wish to get their idea accepted into resolution should consider the following starting points:
- is it legal?
- is it original?
- is it worthwhile?
All resolutions must conform to the Rules For WA Proposals (sometimes referred to as 'the Hackian Laws' or 'the Most Glorious Protocols', after their author, The Most Glorious Hack). These range from the fairly obvious -- for example, 'Grossly Offensive' proposals (usually along the lines of 'KILL $MINORITY!!!11') are illegal, and usually punishable by immediate ejection, or even deletion -- to the more subtle, such as the rules on committees. The most obvious consideration when starting a new proposal is whether the WA has already legislated on that subject: legalising gay marriage, for example, would be illegal as it duplicates the Freedom of Marriage Act, whilst banning it without first repealing that resolution would also be illegal. Some of the rules refer to finer distinctions, such as 'branding' (listing many co-authors, or WA diplomats, for example), which are more to do with format, and generally ironed out in the drafting stage.
As mentioned in the legality section, proposals cannot duplicate or contradict previous resolutions. Proposals commonly fall foul of this, and are deleted by moderators: examples of frequently contradicted/duplicated resolutions in the WA are Rights and Duties of WA States (which bans WA militaries, a common subject of WA proposals) and Nuclear Arms Possession Act (serial attempts to ban nukes or require WA permission for nuclear arsenals, etc.). Common resolutions from the UN that posed the same problem were Definition of Marriage, Abortion Rights and Legalise Euthanasia.
Further considerations with regard to originality are that in some areas, it is felt the WA has 'agreed to disagree', and that consensus - in the form of a successful resolution -- will never be achieved. A commonly cited example is legalising cannabis. As such, proposals based on hackneyed ideas, or on those which the WA has already rejected in the form of a failed resolution (such as sapient rights) are generally given less warm receptions than those coming from original thoughts. This is not always true, however; many felt the UN/WA would never approve a funding mechanism. Then it did.
One of the recurring themes of the WA forum is arguments over national sovereignty. Some nations feel the WA should be extremely limited in what it legislates on (notably members of the Antarctic Oasis or Texas regions) whilst others believe the WA should legislate in affairs such as education, taxation and sex. However, most agree that there is a limit to the effectiveness of the WA. As such, some proposals, however well-written, are rejected as being too specific. It is commonly held in the WA forum that three of the Proposal Categories -- Gun Control, Recreational Drug Use, and Gambling -- are unlikely to see successful legislation, as they constitute unnecessary micromanagement. In fact, the only resolution ever to pass in either of the three categories was UN Drug Act, and it was a blocker to prevent future legislation.
Essentially, the balance lies with where the WA can legislate more effectively (or as effectively as) national and regional governments.
If the idea is a good one, then the author might go on to present a draft for discussion. Some early resolutions essentially take the form of short essays; however, increasingly proposals adopt more formal legislative language, splitting preambulatory clauses and operative clauses (sometimes referred to as "indicative" or "declaratory"). The first set out the intentions and principles of the proposal; the latter lay out what the proposal will do.
Some examples of words used at the beginning of clauses,
- Alarmed by
- Deeply disturbed
- Deeply regretting
- Fully aware
- Guided by
- Having adopted
- Having considered
- Having examined
- Keeping in mind
- Noting with regret
- Noting with satisfaction
- Noting further
- Taking into account
- Taking note
- Calls upon
- Declares accordingly
- Further invites
- Further reminds
- Further requests
- Solemnly affirms
- Takes note of
During the drafting stage, the proposal will be debated, with amendments and additions, varying from simple spelling and grammar concerns to substantive issues. Also, of course, particular interest groups will try to have their views incorporated into the proposal. Offsite forums, such as those of particular organizations or regions, are often used at the beginning of the drafting process; some are drafted entirely offsite. The length of the process varies, and the number of different drafts can range from one basically amended version to several new ones. By the end, a legality check might be considered if it is felt the proposal could be illegal: in this case, moderator review is requested in the Moderation forum.
When a final draft is ready, the author will submit their proposal. To do so, two endorsements are required. This is to prevent excessive submissions, and also to ensure a slight degree of support for the proposal is present (although few authors check with all of their endorsers before submitting). In a reasonably sized region, this is usually no problem; however, in smaller regions, those with few WA members, or those who frown on endorsement-swapping, authors can find themselves without enough endorsements. In this case, they would typically move region briefly, or have someone submit on their behalf. Some authors have removed their nation from the WA for IC or gameplay concerns, and use WA puppets to submit their proposal for them.
Proposals are collected in a queue, chronologically ordered, and have around four days, depending on the time of submission, to reach quorum. Quorum is obtained when 6% of all WA delegates -- usually around 50 of them, but the number used to be much higher -- approve their proposal. Delegates can approve as many proposals as they like, and are not punished for approving illegal or contradictory ones. Some have a policy of approving every proposal; others approve only repeals; others approve only proposals written by members of their region. Some regions decide approval democratically, but largely, the success of a proposal depends on the delegates alone.
If a proposal does not reach quorum, it is deleted. There are no limits on resubmission, and most proposals do not 'make it' first time round: the record for most resubmissions before reaching quorum is currently held by Enn, founder of the United Nations Old Guard, who resubmitted Habeas Corpus 15 times before it went to vote.
If a proposal obtains quorum within the time slot allowed, it is protected from deletion by time. Moderators can still delete a proposal at this stage if it is illegal, however (see WA Timeline). The proposal remains in queue until the vote on the current resolution has finished, then the proposal moves to voting.
All WA members are allowed to vote; however, only a minority regularly do so. Reasons for this include the use of WA membership solely for gameplay purposes, WA members having become inactive, and the lack of an abstain function, meaning that some who appear not to vote are in fact voting as an abstention. The voting is divided between members, on a one-nation, one-vote stage, and delegates, whose voting power is proportional to the number of endorsements they possess (for example, a delegate with 10 endorsements casts a vote of 11, one for them, and one for each endorser). It should be noted the delegate cannot split their votes up, and that their endorsers vote separately. Thus in the above example, seven members, plus the delegate, might vote for, and three against, meaning the total vote would be 18 for, 3 against. Some regions decide delegate voting democratically; some give the delegate authority to vote on their own.
A vote lasts four days, and a simple majority is required. The majority of UN and WA resolutions have passed; however, a substantial minority have failed. Examples from both organisations can be found on their respective timelines. During the at-vote stage, the resolution is debated in the WA forum. The thread on the subject will be stickied. Debates vary in length and depth: in some cases, support is reached during the drafting stage, and there are few dissenters; others are hotly contested. Some have criticised the level of involvement in UN/WA debates, or lack thereof; others point out that not all players use the official forums, but that substantial offsite discussion may take place. In any case, forum polls have tended to bear some, but by no means a full relationship to the outcome of the eventual vote.
If a resolution passes, it is adopted into WA law, and the Compliance Ministry sends out telegrams to WA members, informing them of the result. Member nations' stats are also affected: for example, after a Human Rights resolution passes, personal freedoms will rise. No action is taken if a resolution fails.
The WA forum is distinct, in that it is neither fully IC, nor fully OOC. Although some discussion of technology or criticism of roleplays might occur in the RP forums, and a small amount of "RPing" in the General Forum, they are essentially consigned to a single mode of operation. However, debates in the WA forum take on either character. In general, OOC discussions are less common, and the use of OOC examples is sometimes discouraged, as RL references in proposals are illegal. However, discussion of the morality or practicality of certain issues inevitably turns to OOC debate at times.
When discussing ICly, some choose simply to lend a name to their ambassador, who then acts a mouthpiece for that player's views. Others allocate more than one, or whole teams, so that particular aspects of discussion can be dealt with by 'experts'.
- World Assembly
- WA Timeline
- List of Ambassadors to the World Assembly
- Debating Religious Topics
- Failed Resolutions
- The WA forum - the scene of crime
- World Assembly Reference Guide - a collection of very useful articles on the WA (some of it is outdated, but revision is under discussion)
- Rules For WA Proposals - the 'Hackian' or 'Most Glorious Protocols'
- The UN Strangers' Bar - one of NationStates' oldest and most successful RPs (current version here)
- Silly Proposals: THE RETURN - a humorous look at illegal proposals (current version here)