July 02, 2007

Convergence of initiatives

The recent international meeting on Darfur may not have done anything to stop the genocide, but it did have one positive result from my selfish point of view: a lovely addition to my personal stock of empty but positive-sounding phrases (Francois Murphy and Arshad Mohammed, "Session on Darfur ends without action plan", Reuters, 6/26/2007):

Despite the absence of specific action from the meeting, a UN special envoy, Jan Eliasson, said it had been useful.

"There has been a long period now of sometimes competing initiatives. Now there was general agreement that we should have a convergence of initiatives," he told reporters.

I guess that this translates as something like "Working separately, we've done nothing but talk; now most of us are saying that we need to talk about how to do nothing but talk in a more unified way".

This is a pretty common situation, actually. Quite a few of the meetings I've attended in recent years could have ended their work with a similar mention of general agreement about the appropriateness of pursuing a covergence of initiatives.

I'd offer thanks to Mr. Eliasson, but a Google search finds 11,600 prior instances of {"convergence of initiatives"}, which is apparently a standard piece of diplospeak that I've previously failed to notice, despite its obvious value.

Posted by Mark Liberman at July 2, 2007 09:00 AM