World Schools Debating Championships

This section covers the nature of the Chief Adjudicator's role and the other personnel with whom he/she must work: the Chief Adjudication Panel, the Motions Committee and the Convenor/organising committee in the host country.

For further comments, see the Talk page associated with this topic.

Selecting the Chief Adjudicator and CAP[]

The World Council approved rules codifying the Chief Adjudicator and CAP in 2004. Note Rule 15, which can be found here.

In summary, a CA must be nominated by the host country of a tournament at the World Council meeting the previous year, and ratified by the Council. (Should a replacement need to be made between that meeting and the tournament itself, the replacement must be ratified by the Executive Committee.)

Why must the CA be ratified by the Council?[]

  1. To act as a check and balance in the unlikely event that a host country wants to appoint someone totally inexperienced or only partially involved – as the international community expects the debating side of the World Championships to meet a high standard of administration.
  2. More importantly, because ratification by the Council gives the CA a mandate to conduct his or her duties. Some of those duties involve making tough decisions which aren’t always popular, but ultimately which we must trust a CA to make to the best of his or her ability. A vote of support in advance from the Council underlines this trust.

Local or international?[]

The CA should clearly be someone with experience of several WSDC competitions, and held in high regard by the community. At the same time, nations are encouraged to consider hosting the competition even if they do not necessarily have strength in depth of experienced personnel. Some host countries may therefore have good candidates for their own CA; others may not and may benefit from an outside appointment. Others may work on a co-CA model where 2 are appointed. This worked in Singapore 2002 and South Korea in 2007. Any of these options can work. A good working relationship between CA and Convenor is also a benefit.

You might also choose to name a Deputy Chief Adjudicator, who could be someone with English as a second or foreign language. (This post is not required under WSDC rules, however.)

Chief Adjudication Panel composition[]

The Chief Adjudication Panel or CAP (see Rule 16) is nominated or appointed by the CA prior to the start of the tournament, and should include a number of experienced personnel from around the world. The CAP’s role is to assist the CA in carrying out their duties, but with ultimate right of veto left to the CA – who has the mandate of the Council.

The World Universities competition has an ad hoc model of one local CA supported by two or more international Deputy CAs, and usually makes sure that Australasia, North America and the British Isles are represented in that panel. We have many experienced people from many different parts of the world at WSDC, and don’t really think of regional blocs; but common sense will dictate that different backgrounds and experience of different formats of debate will be helpful. In choosing the people to serve on a CAP, the CA should consider:

  1. A mix of gender
  2. Broad regional representation including, where possible, a blend of those for whom English is a first language and English is a foreign or second language
  3. One or two members from the host country where possible, who aren’t necessarily experienced in WSDC terms but have good knowledge of local judges or local debating issues
  4. A CA or a member of the CAP (if known) of the next or a future Championship

The size of the CAP will depend on the number of tasks it may need to assume, particularly if the host nation’s Organising Committee is inexperienced and/or cannot provide logistical, clerical or tabulation support.

Another thing to consider is the exact range of tasks to be tackled by the CAP, and whether its members have the particular aptitude to cover them. For example, someone might take primary responsibility for running the tab, someone else for organising the judges’ training, and so on.

Motions Committee[]

The Motions Committee was also codified by the 2004 Council Meeting, and is defined in Rule 17 at


Previous years had seen different variations on a theme: ad hoc panels were formed involving various international people, who discussed motions by e-mail prior to their announcement by the Convenor. In 2001 about seven different countries were represented and vigorous discussion led to some fairly popular motions. In 2003 five people set motions which were sometimes thought to have failed to consider every country’s viewpoint. In 2004 a large number of people were asked to comment on a list of suggested topics, although without further discussion and ultimately the Convenor took sole responsibility for motion-setting. Since that time, a Motions Committee has been elected by postal ballot no later than four months prior to a Championship and should reflect the geographic, cultural and linguistic diversity of the participants at the Championships.

Principles of the Committee[]

The rules about the Motion Committee attempt to add consistency and to reassure the WSDC community that a high standard of motions, suitable for all teams, will be set. The Committee will include two members nominated by the host country (who may include the Convenor and/or CA) and five members elected by the council.

It’s expected that the two host members will be experienced in local debate and will understand which motions are appropriate, and which not so, for debate in the host country.

The benefits and intentions of the Motions Committee are clear:

  • Motion-setting should be complete prior to the tournament – there is no need to leave any part of the process to the tournament itself. (Consequently, motion-setters don’t necessarily need to be at the tournament, and indeed not all have attended in recent times – although the majority should be present where possible.)
  • The Committee can take group responsibility for the motions, and give the CA one less thing to worry about.
  • The process of nominating and electing members by the entire WSDC community (of those eligible to vote) appears to ensure greater transparency and accountability, as well as a reduction in complaints about motions. (Of course, the process will not stifle complaints altogether – this is a debating community after all – but those who don’t like the debate topics can be encouraged to stand for the Motions Committee next time and make things better!)

Motions should be decided by consensus, so that all members of the Committee are happy with the output. It isn’t intended to be merely a consultative exercise, as the community wants to be reassured that a number of independent expectations are satisfied.


One matter that the Motions Committee might like to consider is to meet after the Championships, either in person or (perhaps preferably) by email, to include those members who were not at Worlds, to debrief and to evaluate the way the motions were debated. This may involve seeking feedback from coaches or judges who saw the motions debated. The Committee could then produce a brief report and make recommendations for the future.

Working with the Convenor[]

If he or she lives abroad, the CA is advised to arrive in the host country a few days early, in order to meet local judges and the rest of the organising committee, and perhaps run training workshops for chairpeople and timekeepers.

Prior to that, s/he should develop a regular e-mail dialogue with the CAP and the Convenor, and familiarise him or herself with all of the organisational issues – as many areas overlap when it comes to scheduling debates at schools, transporting judges around, planning the timetable for adjudicator briefings and so on. If the CA is responsible for ‘debating matters’, s/he should be able to see and agree on a draft schedule in advance, preferably before a final copy is placed on a website or sent to prospective participants.

S/he should also remind the Convenor of logistical needs for debates and judges – calculators, equipment for the training day, ballot production, distribution and collection and so on. This requires the CA to be involved in an early stage of discussion.

It’s entirely up to the host country, but a Convenor may decide to include travel or other expenses for the CA in the tournament budget. At least the cost of accommodation of the CA during the Championship should probably be borne by the host.