Conferences, and especially those of international organizations responding to world problems, tend to devote considerable resources to elaborating resolutions and declarations. Relatively few of these lead to any action and little attention is subsequently given to evaluating the degree of follow up, even by the responsible bodies. Many of those involved may well be more concerned with the short-term public relations impact rather than the long-term operational impact. There is a failure to ensure that resolutions are both truly purposeful and to respect them as genuine expressions or reminders of widely shared concerns.
Significant action on controversial issues is ensured through collective agreements, not through the illusion of collective agreement provided by a vague resolution. Subsequent action is jeopardized if different interpretations are placed on the text by its framers. Remedial action cannot emerge when those endorsing the agreement do not share the same understanding of the text and fail to coordinate their policies on the basis of it.
Resolutions are meant to keep alive the goals to be achieved and to ensure that these goals are not lost sight of in a multitude of other concerns. In that perspective, they can become an indispensable factor for the successful outcome of negotiations and be perceived as resolutions in the full sense of the term, not as incantations or mere formulations of theory. They become ineffective when they look like stock resolutions.