Difference between ‘taking note of’ and ‘adopting’

Legal assistance paper

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Date produced: 19/12/2009

Does ‘taking note’ have the same legal status as ‘adoption‘ (as it was referred by a UN policy rep in session)? 

“Adoption” and “taking note” cannot have the same legal status (otherwise, you would not go for the latter, having failed to achieve the former – Parties are not so ignorant that they would fail to understand the difference).

The key distinction would be that “taking note” of the Accord would not in any way bind Parties to the details of it.

Having said that, it may be that the policy rep rather than upping the value of “taking note” was actually downplaying the value of “adoption”. If it had been “adopted” it would have been adopted as a COP decision only – and as we have seen over the course of this process, COP decisions are not (generally) binding on the Parties, so even adoption would not have had much effect.

The aim of “taking note” appears to be to give formal recognition within the process to a statement without it having the actual endorsement of the Parties to the proceedings.