General Assembly

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In a perspective of direct democracy, the general assembly is the supreme body and its decisions often take precedence over those of all the others.

A general meeting requires

  • roles
  • order of the day
  • a code of procedures


The agenda includes...

  • the roles to be fulfilled
  • the points submitted to the meeting
  • a reminder of the procedures (access point)

Code of procedures

To work well, a general assembly includes a code of procedures, that is to say ways of doing things that serve the purpose of the assembly, which is often to act as a space for direct democracy.

You can choose to use an existing code or create your own code. An example is modified consensus decision making (suggestions for large and small groups)


Facilitator Essential

Will follow through on the agenda, help the group achieve the goal of each agenda item, and support members in taking turns.

It is recommended that facilitation be a rotating task among people training and supporting each other to avoid dependency on one person always being the designated facilitator.

Taking notes of speaking turns
Role sometimes assumed by the facilitator.

Person who takes note of the speaking turns in order to support the person who leads in their task.

Consensus facilitation

Applicable when you want to make certain decisions by consensus (modified or not)

A person who does not participate in the debates leading to decision-making in order to present common intentions for which consensus will be tested. Must be someone who is trusted by those present to be an active listener who can be unbiased (sometimes an outside person is best suited to fill this role). Drafts and presents the common intentions following discussions following a question for which a decision is necessary. Will forward the agenda to the group. Can intervene without the need for speaking turns.

It is recommended that facilitation be a rotating task among people who train and support each other to avoid dependency on one person always being the designated facilitator.

Time manager or time checker

Role sometimes assumed by the person who facilitates.

Respects the duration of each discussion point (if a duration is planned for each point), the duration of the speaking turns as well as the plenary sessions. 

  • Before starting a plenary (broad discussion), it is recommended to establish a duration. This can be changed along the way.

Responsible for taking notes


Note the outline of what is said and what is adopted by consensus.

Responsible for task note taking Role sometimes assumed by the person taking notes.

Write down the tasks that need to be taken on so that the proposals can be carried out. Tasks can also be taken after a proposal or at the end of the meeting. Having someone in this role helps ease the burden on the person responsible for taking notes.

Space watcher Essential

Keeping the space healthy for people and addressing the power dynamics that arise.

See our wiki page: 

How can we incorporate space watchers and holders into our groups without veering into policing?

Decision making 

Decisions made at general meetings are mandates .

Some decisions are positioning mandates others are specific mandates .

Positioning mandate This type of mandate is an ideological decision that will guide the work and the allocation of the association's resources (executive board, committees, members). For example, let's take a position taken in a student association that opposes the exploitation of hydrocarbons in Canada. It is obvious that this does not commit the executive council to appear at Suncor Energy to prohibit them from continuing their operations. On the other hand, it makes it possible to distribute information material on this issue, to participate in coalitions which militate for this purpose, to invite members to take part in demonstrations, and to give subsidies for local initiatives or donations for external organizations working to end the exploitation of hydrocarbons.
Specific mandate

The specific mandate is punctual. It concerns an action to be performed . In this kind of decision, it is important to be specific about which person or group performs which task. Let's take the example of the opposition to hydrocarbons in a specific context.

A specific mandate (without the considerations) would be:

That the association participates in the world day of disruption on climate issues.

That the mobilization committee be in charge of creating mobilization material to invite members to participate in this day.

That during this day, the executive council coordinate a schedule of activities in collaboration with the committees and mobilize buses to participate in the demonstration.

In short, we have 2 examples of decisions taken on the same subject, but with completely different implications.



Time frame Guides future actions and decisions Limited in time over the short or medium term
Immediate impact Allows representatives of the association to express themselves on this issue in other bodies (Board of Directors, institutional committee, national associations, coalition) Immediately gives tasks and responsibilities in order to make the mandate concrete through one or more actions already planned or to be planned.

Student general assemblies

Post-secondary institutions have student associations. These notably organize general meetings on various subjects: elections, budget, strikes. Each student association has its own procedures for general assemblies, but these tend to be similar.

Related Pages

External contribution

Sami Haiouani

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