Writing for the United Nations


VIII. Writing conclusions and recommendations


Drafting conclusions and recommendations

Whether your report includes conclusions and recommendations will depend on the type of report. Reports of the Secretary-General will almost always include both and must include a section with conclusions drawn from the body of the report. Normally reports prepared for the legislative bodies should include recommendations on action to be taken by the Member States. Reports of the legislative bodies on their meetings should present the conclusions and recommendations reached by the Member States at the session. A report of a mission you have taken should present your conclusions and recommendations in a separate section at the end of the report.

Many people find drafting conclusions and recommendations difficult. It helps to keep them separate in your mind. In essence, your conclusions should be a logical extension of the information contained in the report and your recommendations should be a logical extension of the conclusions.

The conclusions in your report will be the main "discoveries" that appear naturally from the text. For example, if your report analyses trends in abuse of narcotic drugs in the various regions of the world and research shows that in each region there has been an increase in young people between the ages of 16 and 25 being arrested for drug possession or use, it is safe for your report to conclude that abuse of narcotic drugs among that age group is on the rise worldwide. If, however, evidence shows that the number of young people seeking treatment in drug rehabilitation centres is rising, you might in fact conclude that more people are getting help and that drug abuse is therefore decreasing among young people.

Your recommendations, on the other hand, seek to propose specific solutions. If you have concluded that drug abuse among young people is a growing problem, then you should recommend steps to address the problem. It is not enough to recommend simply that action be taken; try to be more specific. Your recommendations could range from a high-profile media campaign focused to reach young people (with information spots airing on MTV rather than BBC World, for example) to a project to gather more detailed information.

The following example is an extract from Afghanistan: Opium Survey 2006, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:

Either Afghanistan destroys opium or opium will destroy Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has warned. As this survey shows, we are coming dangerously close to the second option. This year, opium cultivation rose to 165,000 hectares, a 59 per cent increase over 2005. An unprecedented 6,100 tons of opium has been harvested, making Afghanistan virtually the sole supplier to the world. "Revenue from the harvest will be over three billion dollars this year, making a handful of criminals and corrupt officials extremely rich" Mr. Costa said. "This money is also dragging the rest of Afghanistan into a bottomless pit of destruction and despair."

This year, the largest cultivation took place in the south, especially Halmand and Kandahar provisions, where governance has collapsed under the weight of insurgency, drugs, crime and corruption. In other provinces, like Bahakhshan in the north-east, opium crop increases are the fault of greedy officials and arrogant warlords. Around the country, the number of people involved in opium cultivation increased to almost a third to 2.9 million - 12.6 per cent of the total population.

In this case, the report concludes that urgent measures are needed in three areas: political, strategic and health, and it also provides a number of recommendations, including improving security and the rule of law; making farmers think twice about planting opium; and increasing and improving development assistance.

Exercise 33 consists of a simple text: try to draw one conclusion and make one recommendation.

[Click here for exercise 33]


  | I. Introduction | II. Reader and purpose | III. Pre-writing techniques | IV. Standard report formats | V. Sentence and paragraph development | VI. Clarity in writing | VII. Writing a summary | VIII. Writing conclusions and recommendations | IX. Some last tips |  

Writing for the United Nations © 2007-2014 (New York). Prepared and maintained for the United Nations under the authority of the Chief of the Editorial, Terminology and Reference Service, Department for General Assembly and Conference Management. For technical or editorial enquiries, write "Webmaster" in the subject line of your message and send it to editorialcontrol@un.org. Site created 31 October 2007.