As they seek agreement among many nations on a single text, diplomats look for words that are as positively assertive as the multilateral consensus permits. In a joint communiqué, “we will” or “we shall” is an indication of a strong commitment to action. Weaker language, on the other hand, may have a variety of meanings. In an effort to be helpful, The Centre for International Governance Innovation offers a glossary of communiqué phrases and their possible nuances.
Communiqué May mean
We anticipate We hope
Should Might not
With the aim of Possibly falling short of
Progress is being made toward We may not get to
Greater efforts are required We are disappointed so far
We are exploring We are not ready to act on
Subject to respective budget processes Some of us might not pay
Voluntary criteria for No firm requirement for
Focus on country-led initiatives Countries doing their own thing
We share the goal of We are not individually accountable for
We expect We wish
Primary outcome Biggest wish
Other tips for reading a communiqué:
- Beware reading too much into the document. A cautious reading is often the fairest.
- Read the document carefully – including appendices. A skim may overlook important details.
- Spot the gaps. What is omitted from the text may be hard to notice, yet significant.
Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Phone: 519.885.2444, ext. 317
E-mail: [email protected]
The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. It advances policy debate by supporting incisive, relevant policy research, issuing scholarly and analytical publications and convening workshops and conferences. Founded in 2002 by Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie, CIGI collaborates with all sectors of civil society, receives funding from private and public sources, and gratefully acknowledges support from strategic partners, including the governments of Canada and Ontario. For more information, please visit: www.cigionline.org
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