Off-Topic: Do Our International-Law Documents Have to Be This Badly Written?

Normally I don’t comment publicly on any kind of writing other than that contained in contracts. I have my hands full as it is.

But I was on the receiving end of a cry of despair on Twitter:

Here’s what @W1instonian was referring to:

So for the heck of it, here’s my rewrite:


I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, have considered the Paris Agreement, which was adopted on December 12, 2015, and signed on behalf of the United States of America on April 22, 2016. On behalf of the United States of America, I now accept the Paris Agreement in its entirety.

Signed in Washington on August 29, 2016.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

2 thoughts on “Off-Topic: Do Our International-Law Documents Have to Be This Badly Written?”

    • If you lead with “All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, i.e., electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the United Nations.” in a document freely available and downloadable you have already demonstrated that you are not overly concerned with the meaningfulness of your document.


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