In this briefing paper we review and define the verbs used at the beginning of paragraphs in
COP decisions in both:
a. the preambular text; and
b. the operative text.
Where appropriate, we will discuss how the verbs relate to others in respect of their relevant
strength and give examples of how they have been used in the past.
This paper is restricted to a review of the verbs used at the beginning of the paragraphs and
how the use of different verbs might affect the obligations created by the paragraph.
However, it is important to stress that the substance of the paragraph itself is equally, if not
more, important when determining what kind of obligation the paragraph entails. For
example, “decides to establish” is a significantly stronger obligation than “decides to consider
establishing” even though in both cases the COP has decided to do something.
In this briefing paper, we use COP to mean the Conference of the Parties or the Conference of
the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol or both, as the context