70 ALINORM 97/8 and Addendum (Selection of Criteria for Experts of Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committees).
155. The 21st Session of the Commission had agreed, among other recommendations, that a paper on consumer involvement in Codex should be considered at its present session.71 The 43rd Session of the Executive Committee had agreed that the paper should be strengthened to include references to developing country Members and other interest groups' involvement in Codex work.72 The 44th Session of the Executive Committee had supported the recommendations contained in a paper prepared by the Secretariat as contained in ALINORM 97/8.
71 ALINORM 95/37, para. 90.
72 ALINORM 97/3, para. 41.
156. The Observer of Consumers International supported most of the recommendations included in ALINORM 97/8. It particularly supported the convening of seminars and workshops, especially in developing countries, to explain the activities of the Commission and offered through its offices in developing countries to support this. The Observer recommended improvement of transparency through the involvement of independent NGO consumer organizations and the strengthening of NGO participation in National Codex Committees and in national delegations to Codex meetings; the inclusion of consumer representatives as observers in the Executive Committee and JECFA, JMPR and other FAO/WHO expert consultations; the continued dissémination of Codex publications on the Internet and the possible establishment of a trust fund to improve consumer participation in Codex activities. The Observer from the European Food Law Association supported the statement of Consumers International and suggested that the Committee on General Principles review Rule VII of the Rules of Procedure of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
157. The Commission noted a proposal raised at the 44th Session of the Executive Committee concerning the selection process for ad hoc expert consultations.73
73 ALINORM 97/4, para. 9.
158. Many delegations and the Observer from the European Community supported the strengthening of consumer participation in Codex work with the possibility to submit suggestions for experts for expert bodies through established FAO and WHO procedures. Some delegations suggested that the timetables and lists of experts selected to participate in expert meetings should be widely disseminated through the Internet and by other means. The Delegations of the United Kingdom and Norway stated that the role of consumers was different from that of industry bodies. In view of the changing status of Codex documents, it was important to avoid any perception of Codex being unduly influenced by commercial interests. Other delegations stated that the role to be played by all INGOs, including consumer organizations, should be fully considered. It was suggested to widely share experience on successful cases of NGO participation in Codex work at the national, regional and international levels.
159. The Commission reached the following conclusions:
· The Committee on General Principles should develop guidelines on the procedures for granting observer status to international non-governmental organizations, outlining the rights and obligations of such organizations based on the applicable policies and rules of FAO and WHO, for inclusion in the Procedural Manual;
· Governments should be encouraged to facilitate the participation of NGOs, particularly independent consumer NGOs in National Codex Committees, especially in developing countries, in preparing for Codex meetings, formulating national positions on Codex issues and in participating in Codex work in general;
· FAO and WHO should be encouraged to consider the participation of qualified experts, put forward by INGOs, in expert consultations and meetings on the basis of FAO/WHO rules and procedures, subject to the final approval of the Directors-General of the organizations;
· The Secretariat should continue to draw the attention of potential donors to trust funds through extra-budgetary means to facilitate the participation of INGOs and developing countries in Codex meetings, while ensuring that Codex work is not placed under undue influences; and
· A paper should be prepared by the Secretariat in consultation with independent non-governmental consumers' organizations on enhancing the role of such organizations in the Codex process for consideration at the next session of the Commission.