The World Assembly
|Founded||April 1, 2008|
|Members||24,510 member nations (November 2017)|
- This is an article about the international organization. For the resolution that created it, see The World Assembly (resolution). For the reality show, see World Assembly (TV series).
The World Assembly (often referred to as the WA) is the world's governing body, and as an international organization is the successor to the United Nations, which was dissolved on April 1, 2008. Like the UN before it, the WA is an instrument both of gameplay and roleplay (though the latter has not been nearly as widely employed as it was under the UN). Established as a fake April Fools joke, when all UN resolutions were nullified and archived as historical documents, the WA has assumed completely the UN's former role in the game, as a legislative body for debating and enacting international law, and as a tool for exerting regional control.
Since June 2009, the WA has been divided into two branches: the General Assembly, which passes laws that take effect in member states, and the Security Council, created for the purpose of enriching the gameplay side of WA politics.
'A colossal fireball of extra-dimensional inanity'
Experienced NS players likely had a chuckle when they woke up the morning of April 1, 2008, to discover a notice that Max Barry, under pressure from the real United Nations, had shut down the NationStates United Nations and replaced it with a similar yet unique organization, complete with new name, logo, flag and resolution log. Even the Strangers' Bar had had a makeover. Already at vote was a resolution, appropriately styled "The World Assembly," by Barry's nation of Maxtopia, officially protesting the RL U.N.'s meddling but asserting that members now had a whole new opportunity to shape and mold the world into their image. As such, the resolution invalidated all past resolutions for the sake of establishing a "clean slate" for international lawmakers.
As it turned out, there was no joke: the U.N. really had (supposedly) served notice to Barry to shut down the satirized NS United Nations, and the World Assembly was here to stay. (This according to a follow-up notice posted on the NS site on April 2.) Many players, most of them UN veterans, decided to cast protest votes against Maxtopia's resolution, in response to the dozens of player-created resolutions having been summarily negated by administrators, but by then it was too late. "The World Assembly" was far ahead in the polls and destined for passage.
Initial reactions to the change were positive overall. As one forum poster declared, "Let's start fresh. Let's make all new mistakes."
Commend & Condemn controversy
On May 27, 2009, Barry announced the addition of Commend and Condemn proposal categories, allowing members to nominate specific nations or regions for special recognition (either positive or negative) by the entire WA. WA forum regulars strongly criticized the new feature, pointing out that it collided with current rules regarding "metagaming." More than a few longtime members of the WA resigned over the changes.
Game admin [violet] announced a few days later that the new categories would be implemented differently. On June 8, the WA was split into the General Assembly and the Security Council, with the latter body taking up the new categories. The Liberation category was added later.
On Feb. 25-26, 2010, a new feature was implemented enabling both branches of the WA to vote separately on their own resolutions, which had been a demand of WA players since the Security Council was created.
Gameplay and the WA
The World Assembly naturally inherited the UN's gameplay instruments when it took over in 2008. The power wielded by WA Delegates, as well as the impact passed resolutions have on WA members' national statistics, make the organization an integral part of NS gameplay.
Aside from their obvious importance to the invading/defending side of the game, Delegates play an influential role in the WA legislative process, deciding which resolutions go to vote and sometimes even determining which ones pass. Because Delegate approvals are essential to proposals' attaining quorum, regions controlling a number of "puppet regions," or alliances with active regional members, can "stack the deck" in their favor by throwing multiple Delegate votes behind proposals they support. Delegates with a large number of endorsements, including those from Feeders and major player-created regions, are closely watched once a resolution gets to vote, particularly if the floor vote is especially close. If they vote en bloc, Delegates from large regions can sink resolutions that are supported by a majority of members, or assure that unpopular resolutions pass. (This is not to say that resolutions receiving near-unanimous opposition from major Delegates never pass, however.)
Many players are sensitive to the at-times dramatic changes in their nations' stats that can result from a resolution passing the WA. It is not uncommon to blame a WA resolution for a nation's suddenly ailing economy or erratic shift in freedoms rankings. (Note that this phenomenon is unique to General Assembly resolutions, which have universal impact; Security Council resolutions do not affect nation stats.) It is for this reason that many players create WA puppets, so that they can retain a voice in the World Assembly while avoiding the consequences of its decisions. Stat changes to nations can also be reversed by answering daily issues in a certain way (as there is no penalty for defying resolutions in gameplay) -- or circumvented entirely by resigning from the WA immediately before a resolution passes (when stat changes take effect) and reapplying afterward. Repealing a resolution enacts a partial stat reversal in all member nations.
The Security Council has added a new dimension to WA gameplay, by giving players the opportunity to award nations or regions for outstanding achievements in the game, symbolically "punish" nations or regions for causing trouble, even intervene in the invading game by removing password protection on griefed regions.
Roleplaying in the WA
Not all players recognize the World Assembly as an in-character institution of the NS world, but to a small group of dedicated WA participants (mostly General Assembly frequenters), the WA is as real to the multiverse as diplomatic incidents, nuclear warfare or interstellar travel. While no roleplay pattern is by any means universal, the WA is widely assumed to be a far-reaching global bureaucracy, with a powerful Secretariat, a huge international headquarters complex (equipped to satisfy the office demands of thousands of members and observers), a meddling Compliance Commission that dispatches its gnomes to every corner of the globe the moment a resolution passes, and a number of committees impaneled to oversee the implementation of specific WA mandates. However, these are all RP explanations for gameplay devices. There are other supposed WA officials that are not linked to the game at all, like Catherine Gratwick, pretended secretary-general of the World Assembly, who spends most of her time in her lair plotting world domination; and the WA Building Mgmt, an inept, bumbling bureaucratic mess whose employees have yet to see to mile-high stacks of unfinished paperwork (mostly office requests). Then of course there's Thessadoria, a "nation" controlling certain "interests" that comprise an NSWA institution all their own.
Member nations appoint ambassadors to represent them at the WA HQ, usually high-ranking foreign-ministry officials and accomplished rules-lawyers intimately familiar with normal protocols for forging international legislation (and exploiting loopholes to get around enforcing it). These capable national representatives have transformed the forum for drafting legislation into a palace of legalistic inanity, the chamber for floor debates into a veritable warzone, and the Security Council "headquarters" into a lake. Where these diplomats were formerly divided into warring sovereigntist and "federalist" (anti-sovereigntist) factions, most active WA members now form a semi-homogeneous bloc, loudly, assertively and often violently committed to quality in international law, but with very little actual influence on WA voting patterns.
The WA's activities are financed by the controversial WA General Fund, which collects "donations" from the coffers of member states and allocates them to meet budgetary demands. The fund has been a source of friction among WA diplomats since its creation, not only because it is unclear whether or not these national "donations" are mandatory, but also because the assumption of a limitless funding source has led to the creation of programs cited by critics as "wasteful." Other contentious WA policies that have carried over from the days of the UN include a ban on a WA military or police force, and a ban on directly taxing the citizens of WA countries.
Most of these RP assumptions stem from General Assembly conventions; the Security Council generally is not an effective instrument for character-based roleplay.