Language of a Communiqué: Sifting for nuance

News Release

June 27, 2010

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.


Fred Kuntz
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:

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