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.
CIGI is an independent, nonpartisan think tank on international governance challenges. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. For more information, visit www.cigionline.org