1. The Hundred and Twenty-third Session of the Council was held in Rome from 28 October to 1 November 2002 under the Chairmanship of Aziz Mekouar, Independent Chairman of the Council.
2. The Council noted the Declaration of Competence and Voting Rights presented by the European Community and adopted the Agenda and Timetable for the Session. The Agenda is given in Appendix A to this Report.
3. The Council elected three Vice-Chairpersons for its Session: Pavel Skoda (Czech Republic), Nuri Ibrahim Hasan (Libya) and Wilfred Ngirwa (Tanzania, United Republic of).
4. The Council elected Seth D. Winnick (United States of America) as Chairperson of the Drafting Committee with the following membership: Australia, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Egypt, France, Iceland, India, Korea (Republic of), Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of), Tunisia and United States of America.
5. The Council expressed appreciation for the document CL 123/2 and generally concurred with its depiction of the current world food and agriculture situation. Many Members also provided additional information on the food, agriculture and food security situation in their respective countries.
6. The Council expressed its strong concern over the insufficient progress in reducing the number of undernourished in the world, and noted that a significant acceleration was required to reach the World Food Summit goal of halving the number of undernourished by 2015. It also noted that the reduction at the global level covered wide variations in performance, with rapid progress in a few countries along with a stagnating or deteriorating situation in many others. It emphasized the need for strengthened and concerted efforts at the national and international levels to accelerate progress towards the elimination of food insecurity in the world. It also called for analysis to be undertaken of the factors behind successes in reducing undernourishment, and requested FAO to continue monitoring the world food security situation.
7. The Council also noted with concern a number of recent trends and developments with negative implications for world food security. It noted in particular:
8. The Council underlined the crucial role of agricultural and rural development for reduction of poverty and undernourishment. It stressed the importance of investment in agriculture and rural areas, especially in developing countries, and the need to increase resource flows in keeping with the Monterrey consensus.
9. Recognizing the important contributions that had been made by a number of donors, the Council underlined the need for additional international resources in emergencies to avert famine.
10. The Council noted the contribution of international trade, including agriculture, in promoting economic development and eliminating poverty and food insecurity. It also recognized the importance of a fair and market-oriented trading system and the Doha Development Agenda. It noted FAO's analytical work on the impact of trade and its assistance to developing countries in multilateral trade negotiations.
11. Having heard the statement delivered by Mr Anwarul
Chowdhury, United Nations
Under-Secretary General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and the statements made by delegations of LDCs, the Council expressed its strong support to the Brussels Programme of Action (POA) adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Brussels in May 2001. The Council called on FAO to continue to participate – within the framework of its work programme – in the implementation of relevant sections of the Programme of Action.
12. Donors were invited to provide extra-budgetary funds for this purpose.
13. Many Members underlined the positive contribution provided by FAO’s Special Programme on Food Security and by South-South Cooperation (SSC). A number of Members also stated their readiness to share their experience and expertise within the framework of South-South Cooperation.
14. The Council's attention was drawn to the appeal launched to the international community for a World Solidarity Fund (WSF) with voluntary contributions intended to consolidate existing mechanisms for combatting hunger and poverty in the various regions of the world.
15. The Council noted the need to pay special attention to the food and agriculture component of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
16. The Council commended the work of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at its Twenty-eighth session and expressed appreciation to Mr Aidan O’Driscoll for his role during his term of office as the Chairman of the Committee. The Council also expressed appreciation to Mr O’Driscoll and Ambassador Mary Muchada for their roles as Chair and Co-chair of the Open-Ended Working Group in preparing the draft resolution for the World Food Summit: five years later.
17. The Council regretted that the relatively low rate of decline in the number of undernourished was disappointingly low. Recognizing the need to move from awareness to more concrete action, the Council endorsed the Report of the CFS and stressed that Governments and FAO should do their utmost to implement in particular the conclusions and recommendations contained in paragraphs 11 and 17 of the Report. Some Members suggested that FAO should maintain a tracking system to monitor the implementation of the recommendations.
18. In supporting the recommendations of the CFS, the Council underlined that particular emphasis should be placed inter alia on measures to reduce environmental degradation, soil and water conservation. The Council stressed the importance of FAO continuing to support capacity-building in the area of international food safety standards and agricultural trade negotiations. The importance of food security information systems was also highlighted with a call for coordination with other UN System organizations, particularly in relation to the Millennium Development Goals.
19. The Council reiterated the view that improving food security was primarily a responsibility of national governments. The responsibility of the international community in enabling the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action was also underlined. The Council also confirmed that food aid could play a positive role in support of food security, while stressing that it should not undermine incentives for domestic food production.
20. The Council agreed that the thematic issue of the next session of the CFS should be “The impact of disasters on long-term food security and poverty alleviation - policy implications”. The Council also concurred with the Committee’s recommendation that the topic for discussion at the next informal panel be “The impact of access to land on improving food security and alleviating poverty - a review of successful cases of land reform in selected countries”.
21. The Council recalled that the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl) had been convened with a view to giving renewed impetus to efforts to achieve the goals of the 1996 World Food Summit. It considered that in adopting the WFS:fyl Declaration entitled "International Alliance Against Hunger", participants at the WFS:fyl had established the framework for a common undertaking to vanquish hunger and achieve food security for all.
22. The Council supported the Secretariat’s effort to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition, in reviewing and updating their national food security policies and strategies. It encouraged the Organization to pursue this effort, and to seek the participation of UNDP, World Bank, other UN Agencies and bilateral donors in the process.
23. Members welcomed the fact that, in the follow-up to the WFS:fyl and to the Side Events on regional food security, technical assistance had been provided to various Regional Economic Organizations (REOs) all over the world to support the preparation and implementation of regional food security strategies and programmes.
24. The Council supported the action already undertaken, at the international level and in cooperation with IFAD and WFP, to ensure that adequate attention was paid to agricultural and rural development in poverty reduction strategies. It was noted that the Anti-Hunger Programme was an evolving initiative. The second draft, which emphasized the policy dimensions of hunger reduction, had been made available at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg and had been used as an input to the agriculture component of the Secretary General’s special initiative Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity (WEHAB) at the WSSD. The Council took note that the Secretariat saw the paper as a contribution to the UN-led activities in support of the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, and in particular the work of the Task Force on Hunger under the Millennium Development Goals project. Several Members mentioned the need to incorporate, in future drafts of the Anti-Hunger Programme, the commitments in the Doha Ministerial Declaration regarding reduction of market distortions and subsidies.
25. The Council expressed interest in the efforts to operationalize the International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH) at both the national and international levels. In this connection, the potential role of the UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security in supporting the IAAH through advocacy and promotion of partnerships at the country level was underlined, as well as linking the Alliance with national Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers.
26. As requested in paragraph 10 of the Declaration adopted by the World Food Summit: five years later, the Council decided to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) as a subsidiary body of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), with the mandate to elaborate, with the participation of stakeholders and within a period of two years, a set of voluntary guidelines to support Members in the progressive realization of the right to adequate food.
27. The Council took note of the extra-budgetary financial resources for the creation of the IGWG. The Council encouraged other donor countries to also contribute to the budget of the IGWG, including in particular funds to facilitate the effective participation of developing countries.
28. The Council adopted the decision contained in Appendix D to this Report.
29. Noting that 2001 constituted a record year for WFP in terms of food assistance (the Programme having provided to 77 million beneficiaries some 4.2 million metric tonnes of food valued at US$ 1.9 billion), the Council approved the Annual Report of the Executive Director and expressed appreciation for the outstanding work carried out by the former Executive Director, Ms Catherine Bertini, during her tenure. The Council welcomed Mr James T. Morris as the new Executive Director, and praised the achievements the Programme had made during his relatively short time in office.
30. The Council further commended the President of the Executive Board, Ms Ulla-Maija Finskas during 2001 for ably conducting the work of the Board in that period, particularly regarding her efforts to enhance inter-agency collaboration and Board governance.
31. The Council welcomed WFP’s accomplishment over the past year, particularly in the areas of humanitarian relief and emergency operations. It also welcomed WFP’s increasing efforts and achievements regarding school feeding, HIV/AIDS and the broadening of the Programme’s resource base. A large number of Members expressed concern over the declining resources for development activities and appealed for greater support for them, so that the dual mandate of the Programme could be suitably accomplished.
32. Some Members stressed the need for WFP to continue its decentralization and to give greater importance to the Country Offices in the field. Members also appreciated efforts by WFP to bring women to the center-stage of operations.
33. The Council also expressed concern for the security of WFP and other humanitarian staff, and encouraged the Executive Director to maintain staff security high on the Programme’s list of priorities.
34. In accordance with the Resolution 6/99 adopted by the Thirtieth Session of the FAO Conference on 13 November 1999, the Council was required to elect six members of the WFP Executive Board from among FAO Member Nations for the period 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005.
35. The Council then elected the following members from the respective lists to the WFP Executive Board for a term of office of three years (1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005):
36. The Council recalled that a revised text of the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides had been presented and discussed at the Thirty-first Session of the FAO Conference and that the revised text of the Code was acceptable to all Members, with the exception of one paragraph and its two sub-paragraphs that addressed various aspects of data protection and public access to relevant information. The Conference had agreed to seek the earliest possible agreements on these paragraphs and had decided that a Technical Consultation should be held, addressing only those paragraphs. The Conference had also authorized the Council, at its present Session, to consider the text resulting from the Consultation and, if appropriate, approve the revised Code.
37. The Council took note of the procedure approved by the Regional Chairs during the Thirty-first Session of the FAO Conference to resolve the outstanding issues for the finalization of the Revised Code. The Secretariat had sought comments from Members for consideration by the Technical Consultation. The Council noted that the Technical Consultation had reached a consensus text replacing the paragraph and its sub-paragraphs in question, and that the Secretariat had reported this outcome to all Members and their comments had been invited. The Council also noted that comments received from Members in the majority supported the consensus text, while some Members had expressed concerns about the new paragraphs 6.1.7. and 6.1.8.
38. The Council recognized the need for an early adoption of the Code, in particular to assist developing countries in their pest and pesticide management programmes and in the protection of human health and the environment.
39. The Council recognized that this voluntary Code of Conduct did not interpret Article 39.3 of the TRIPS Agreement10. The Council agreed by consensus to delete the two paragraphs, 6.1.7. and 6.1.8, from the draft text of the Code revised by the Technical Consultation as presented in document CL 123/19.
40. One region declared that this decision reinforced the general interest, including that of industry, an unquestionable protagonist in development and a catalyst for technological renovation, since it safeguarded the legal stability necessary for orderly and transparent international trade for which the WTO was the competent body to reform, interpret or modify agreements. One Member stated that, although it would not block the consensus, it found the deletion unfortunate as industry had expressed reservations. It encouraged FAO to take all necessary steps to ensure industry participation as this was essential to the successful implementation of the Code, and requested the Secretariat to report back at a future session of Council. Another Member stated that nothing in the text of Code should affect the rights and obligations of public and private entities under relevant agreements, e.g. TRIPS.
41. The Council adopted the following Resolution:
Revised Version of the International Code of Conduct on
the Distribution and Use of Pesticides
THE COUNCIL, based on the authority given by the Thirty-first Session of the FAO Conference,
- Hereby approves the revised text of the "International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides" contained in Appendix E to this Report.
Adopted on 1 November 2002
42. The Council recalled that at its Hundred and Twentieth Session (Rome, 18-23 June 2001) it had endorsed the FAO-led initiatives to convene, jointly with WHO, a Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators and a Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality. The Council was informed of the outcome of these two events held in early 2002 in Marrakesh and Budapest, respectively. It noted that these conferences provided an opportunity for food safety regulators in developed and developing countries to exchange information and experiences on food safety management, and to foster partnership alliances among countries in support of capacity-building.
43. The Council recognized the importance of food safety issues for consumer protection and in relation to food trade, and the need for Members to build effective food safety systems using a science-based, food chain approach. It also recognized the critical role of FAO in providing the necessary assistance and guidance to its Members in building their capacity regarding food safety and quality.
44. Many Members supported the recommendation to convene a Second Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators in 2004. A few Members felt that a decision on this matter should preferably await the outcome of the current evaluation of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), and its discussion at the Extraordinary Session of the CAC in February 2003. Some Members stressed the need to ensure that the Global Forum did not duplicate nor interfere with the normative work of CAC.
45. The Council was informed of the recommendation made in Marrakesh for FAO and WHO to convene a second Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators on the theme “Building Effective Food Safety Systems”. The Council was informed of FAO’s readiness to organize, in association with WHO, regional conferences similar to the Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality.
46. Some Members further noted that the two events highlighted the importance for FAO to expand its capacity-building activities in the field of food safety and quality, and to enhance its collaborative efforts in this field with other relevant international and regional organizations.
47. The Council generally recognized the advantages of holding discussions and exchanging views and information on practical actions to promote food safety at the regional level. Several Members suggested that these discussions could be held in connection with FAO Regional Conferences or back-to-back with the Codex Regional Coordinating Committee sessions. Others suggested that the decision to organize regional meetings and their contents should be left to the countries of each region. Nevertheless, a few Members questioned the cost-effectiveness of these meetings and their relevance in view of the diversity of country situations, and expressed the view that the CAC might be strengthened instead.
48. In conclusion, the Council agreed in principle that FAO, in association with WHO, could initiate the preparation of a second Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators on the understanding that a final decision on the convening of a second Global Forum would be taken at its next session in June 2003, taking also into consideration the outcome of the CAC discussion on the evaluation of Codex and the views of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) on this matter.
49. The Council noted that regional discussions on practical actions to promote food safety issues could take place in connection with the forthcoming FAO Regional Conferences, including possibly Ministerial or high-level Round Tables. WHO should be closely associated with these discussions. Decisions to convene further FAO/WHO Pan-regional Conferences on Food Safety and Quality should be left to countries of each region.
50. The Council welcomed the comprehensive information in the biennial Programme Implementation Report (PIR), including the widespread use of tables and charts. It noted that, as usual, more detailed data on the status of implementation of outputs was available on the FAO Internet Website. The Council appreciated the Annex contained therein on geographical representation and gender of professional staff, and reiterated the importance of reaching the target of 35 percent of Professional Staff being women, by the end of the current biennium 2002-03, and that there be a more balanced geographical representation.
51. The Council recalled that the PIR was an important accountability document, in full complementarity to the Programme Evaluation Report. It looked forward to the consideration by the Programme and Finance Committees of changes to the format of the PIR, to take account of the increased outcome orientation of the new programming model. In particular, the availability of improved indicators in the Medium-Term Plan should now facilitate more attention in the PIR on the extent to which planned outcomes had been accomplished. The Secretariat indicated that it may be unrealistic to expect that a comprehensive PIR could include a serious analysis of impact and that this was perhaps better tackled, to the extent feasible, in the Programme Evaluation Report (PER) which covered a period of three or four biennia. The Council was informed that achievements under the Strategies to Address Cross-Organizational Issues would be addressed in future PIRs.
52. The Council noted that overall delivery under the Regular Programme had been generally satisfactory in 2000-2001, including gradual improvements in the implementation of the Organization’s Language Policy. It recalled that a significant development during the biennium was the transfer of operational responsibility of national projects to the FAO Country Offices. Many Members welcomed the further expansion of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) which took place in the same period.
53. However, the Council noted with concern that an overall relative stagnation of delivery under non-emergency field activities had been experienced, although there were firm signs of an improved trend in such delivery.
54. The Council endorsed the document for transmission to the Conference.
55. The Council addressed the Medium Term Plan (MTP) 2004-2009, together with the comments of the Programme and Finance Committees, including the detailed review of its substantive contents carried out by the Programme Committee. It recalled that the pertinent sections would also be examined by its Technical Committees (COAG, COFI and COFO) at their forthcoming sessions in early 2003.
56. The Council welcomed the inclusion of a comprehensive list of opportunities for extra-budgetary support in Part I of the document. It noted that the MTP 2004-2009 included an enhanced statement of objectives and priorities for the Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs) in response to the requests of Members. The Council also appreciated the special emphasis given to Human Resources Management and inter-disciplinarity in the expanded Part III covering the Strategies to Address Cross-Organizational Issues. The Council took note of the improved quality of the document, in particular in terms of sharper objectives and more explicit indicators under the proposed programme entities in Part II. It looked forward to further progress in this direction, consistent with the application of results-based budgeting principles.
57. The Council took note of the fact that this version of the Plan was of larger size than the preceding one, due in particular to need to restate the entire plan using the enhanced methodology which had been applied to all entities. It also noted that a rolling plan system, as endorsed by the Conference, should normally imply that each version focus on new entities and on changes from the previous version.
58. The Council also noted that the MTP had broached the issue of capital budgeting for financing one-time items. It looked forward to continued examination of the matter by the Finance Committee, in order to assess its implications.
59. In addressing the substance, the Council agreed that the MTP was consistent with the longer-term orientations in the Strategic Framework 2000-2015. It recognized that it was also responsive to key international events such as the Millennium Summit, the WTO Doha Ministerial Conference, the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, the World Food Summit: five years later and the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Council further noted that the proposals were compatible with the applicable sections of the Brussels Plan of Action for the Least-Developed Countries.
60. More generally, the Council felt that the Plan reflected the demands from the Membership. In this connection, the Council recalled the importance of balance between normative and operational activities, while ensuring adequate follow-up to the recommendations of evaluations. In recalling the difficulties inherent in priority-setting in the context of international organizations such as FAO, the Council requested further discussion of the matter in the Programme Committee at its next session, with the aim of identifying a more satisfactory approach. Some Members highlighted the responsibility of the Secretariat to assist them in identifying priority options, as well as the possibility of assigning certain tasks to outside experts when reviewing the arrangements for priority-setting.
61. Several Members stressed a number of areas to which they attached particular importance, including: information management and information sharing; technical assistance to developing countries in relation to WTO trade negotiations; agri-business development and safety along the food chain; natural resource management and water conservation; biotechnology applications to agriculture; rural energy; animal health; fisheries and aquaculture development and management, including through the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, support to small-scale fisheries and attention to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fisheries; forestry and watershed management; work under key international instruments such as the IPPC, Codex, Prior Informed Consent (PIC) on pesticides and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources: support to capacity-building in countries; and gender mainstreaming and the implications of HIV/AIDS.
62. The Council concurred with the comments of the Programme Committee on the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), including the concern expressed with the potential shortfall in funding in relation to the approved activities in the present biennium and the need for additional allocations to accelerate the standard-setting process, which should allow the setting of at least four standards per annum.
63. The Council welcomed the proposed increase in resources for Codex, and recognized that the outcomes of the current FAO/WHO evaluation of Codex could also have resource implications for the MTP.
64. The Council underlined the important initiatives and activities generated in connection with the International Year of the Mountains (IYM) held in 2002 for which FAO was the lead Agency, and urged that adequate follow-up be ensured through the establishment of an effective mechanism or focal point in FAO, while noting that funding for such a mechanism was not yet determined.
65. Turning to overall resource aspects, the Council stressed that the resource projections in the Plan were indicative and non-binding in nature. Divergent views were expressed on these projections, ranging from full support in the light of requirements, to their rejection as being unrealistic in the context of the level of recent FAO budget outcomes and of the financial difficulties and budgetary stringency currently experienced by many Members.
66. The Council recognized that the MTP was not meant to lead to firm decisions on budget levels, as the latter should be reached by the Conference at the culmination of the usual process of examination and discussion of Programme of Work and Budget proposals. In this connection, some Members considered that a number of scenarios should be prepared for the next MTP and PWB to assist in priority-setting and to better enlighten the Membership of the impact of alternative budget levels. The importance of continued search for efficiency savings was also underlined.
67. Considering the renewal of personnel as a consequence of retirements during the period to which the MTP 2004-2009 applied, the Council requested a more equitable geographical representation and gender balance in future staff recruitment, particularly for senior positions.
68. In conclusion, the Council gave its endorsement of the substantive content of the Medium Term Plan as a basis for the preparation of PWB proposals for the next biennium, taking account of the comments made by the Programme and Finance Committees, the results of the review of respective sections of interest to its Technical Committees, and its own reactions, as summarized above.
69. The Council considered the views of the Programme Committee on the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) 2004-2009 and the Programme Implementation Report (PIR) 2000-2001 under the substantive agenda items for those documents.
70. The Council considered options for the proposed reform of the General Debate of the Conference ((a) Round Tables held concurrently with the General Debate; (b) Round Tables substituting for the General Debate and (c) maintaining the present set-up of the General Debate) and the conclusions reached by the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees on that matter in September 2002. There was a general agreement among Members of the Council that it was not realistic to abolish the General Debate, and that instead it should be revitalized and ways should be sought to increase the impact of statements delivered by Heads of Delegation.
71. Most Members felt that, on the basis of the positive experience gained during the World Food Summit: fyl, thematic Round Tables should be conducted in parallel to the General Debate. Some Members expressed concern that debate at Round Tables would follow the same pattern as the General Debate, with prepared speeches and no lively interaction. Therefore, it was pointed out that in order for the Round Tables to be a success, they should be well-prepared with a specific theme that was linked to the Conference. They should last for a shorter period of time than was the case during World Food Summit: fyl. The Round Tables should also have a small number of participants and should ensure that there was an exchange of views.
72. The Council urged the Secretariat to further study the option of holding simultaneously the General Debate and thematic Round Tables, while taking into account such practical factors as timing, space availability, attendance by Ministers and incremental costs, and report to the June 2003 Session of the Council, through the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees in May 2003, on its finding.
73. The Council noted that the Joint Meetings also addressed the enhanced reporting system on Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) Recommendations, which the Council endorsed. It also noted that the Joint Meeting had received a Progress Report on the New Arrangements for Enhancing FAO’s Presence at Country Level based on outposted technical officers, as approved by the Council itself at its Hundred and Nineteenth Session.
74. The Council took note of the observations of the Committees on the new system of outposted officers/FAORs. Several Members stressed the key role that FAO Country Offices should play in channelling timely information and assistance to host countries, in the context of coordinated UN System action. The Council reiterated that a well-functioning and cost-effective network of FAORs was an essential component of the Decentralization Policy pursued by the Organization, and looked forward to related aspects being addressed in the forthcoming Evaluation of Decentralization, which was scheduled for consideration by the Committees in May 2004.
75. The Council noted the unanimous agreement of the Programme Committee on the high priority accorded to the work of the International Plant Protection Commission (IPPC), the need for additional allocations to accelerate standards setting, and the emphasis in the medium term to maintain a sustainable programme of setting four standards per annum, to maintain information exchange and to provide support to technical assistance. The Council also noted the Secretariat's clear indication that the IPPC fell into the first category of priorities of FAO, and that the Secretariat took the conclusions of the Programme Committee on the IPPC as a direction to do something about resource allocations for the IPPC.
76. The Council noted that, beyond the detailed examination of the MTP 2004-2009 and the PIR 2000-01, the Programme Committee had inter alia continued to carry out its cycle of programme reviews, and had addressed several important evaluation reports and documents. It recalled that the in-depth examination of evaluation reports by the Programme Committee was a main feature of the enhanced evaluation regime in FAO, as the Committee was the prime recipient of such reports. The Council recognized in this connection the significant improvements made by the Organization in the evaluation area, not only in terms of the volume and quality of reports, but also in terms of a more constructive approach to recommendations, which could at times be critical.
77. The Council took note of the Committee’s comments on the External Evaluation of the SPFS, as well as on the evaluations of both components of the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES). The Council welcomed the firm commitment by FAO management to follow up on the recommendations of the Evaluation of the SPFS, and noted that a Progress Report was due for consideration by the Programme Committee at its next session.
78. Echoing similar considerations in the evaluation itself and in the Committee’s Report, several Members reiterated a number of requisite conditions for the successful implementation and improvement of SPFS interventions, such as national ownership, effective stakeholder involvement including use of quality local counterpart staff, attention to household food security and gender dimensions and due flexibility to project design. The usefulness of South-South cooperants was also underlined, while the readiness and capacity of recipient countries to accommodate them should not be overlooked.
79. The Council noted that the Programme Committee had also considered an evaluation of FAO’s work under Strategy A3 related to preparedness and response to food and agricultural emergencies, recognizing that this was the first case of an evaluation specifically focused on a strategic objective of the Organization.
80. In connection with the two progress reports presented to the Programme Committee on the key evaluation, of Codex and other FAO and WHO work on food standards, the Council noted that this type of involvement was unusual in mid-course of an ongoing evaluation, while it was pleased to observe that it had contributed to useful clarifications on its scope and conduct in this particular case. The Council recalled that this Evaluation Report was shortly due for issuance, so that it could be considered in early 2003, in the first instance by Codex itself, and then by the pertinent bodies of both FAO and WHO.
81. The Council appreciated that the Programme Committee had responded to its own request, by examining the feasibility of developing preliminary information on Programme of Work proposals for submission to COAG, COFI and COFO. The Council endorsed the recommended course of action for the next round of sessions of the latter three Committees in early 2003, while the experience gained with the proposed arrangements would be reviewed in the future.
82. Finally, the Council took note of the preliminary discussion of indicators undertaken by the Committee, which it expected would be pursued at future sessions and the comments made on the Corporate Database for Substantive Statistical Data (FAOSTAT) and other aspects of dissemination of information, a key function of FAO. The Council stressed the importance of support to related capacity-building in developing countries and in countries with economies in transition and of effective tools for national use, taking into consideration the recommendations of the second FAO Consultation on Agriculture Information Management (COAIM).
83. In view of his impending resignation from the Chair of the Programme Committee before completion of his term of office, the Council, noted this decision, thanked Ambassador Jan Berteling for the work accomplished and wished him well in his new functions.
84. The Council considered the updated status of contributions of the Organization at 28 October 2002, and noted that the percentage of current assessments received compared favourably with that of the past five years at the same date. Sixty-seven Member Nations had, however, made no payment towards their current assessments.
85. The Council expressed concern over the high level of arrears outstanding, noting that 65 Member Nations still had arrears outstanding from 2001 and previous years and forty-three owed arrears of amounts that would cause them to lose their Right to Vote in accordance with Article III.4 of the Constitution. While appreciating the often-difficult financial situations of some countries, emphasis was nonetheless placed on the importance of all Member Nations, irrespective of size, honouring their financial obligations towards the Organization. The Council, therefore, urged all Member Nations to pay their contributions in full in order to enable the Organization to fulfil its mandate.
86. Regarding the new Scale of Contributions for FAO, one regional group reiterated its interest that the Secretariat submit some elements to decrease its impact in different countries, bearing in mind Resolution 55/5 of the United Nations General Assembly.
87. The Council reviewed the Director-General's Thirty-fifth Annual Report of Budgetary Performance to Member Nations providing data on the overall Regular Programme budgetary out-turn for 2000-2001, taking into account the discussions of the Finance Committee at its Ninety-ninth session in May 2002.
88. The Council noted that the Director-General had managed the Regular Programme Appropriations prudently and in accordance with the Financial Regulations, and noted that no budgetary transfers between chapters were required during the 2000-2001 biennium.
89. The Council considered and welcomed the Progress Report on Human Resources Management Issues, and recognized the following items as main concerns in the area of human resources management:
90. The Council emphasized in particular the need to reduce the time taken to recruit Professional staff and to improve gender balance and geographical distribution.
91. The Council noted with satisfaction the good progress made on the Oracle project, in particular the successful upgrade of the Oracle financial system to version 11i. It noted that as the Organization’s financial position improved through the payment of arrears, Phase II of the project dealing with programme planning, human resources management and payroll could continue.
92. The Council noted the report on the Finance Committee concerning the determination of the functional currency and the use of split assessment as a means to protect the Programme of Work and Budget against exchange rate fluctuations. It recognized that there was general agreement that the approved Programme of Work should be protected to the maximum extent possible from the effects of fluctuating exchange rates, and that a decision needed to be taken before the next Conference.
93. It agreed with the Finance Committee's recommendation that the Secretariat provide more information on the proposal including the experience of other Agencies utilizing this technique, and looked forward to receiving the report of the Finance Committee following its further consideration of the matter at its next Session.
94. The Council endorsed the Report of the Finance Committee.
95. In endorsing Audited Accounts 2000-2001 and the Report of the External Auditor, as reviewed by the Finance Committee at its Hundredth Session, the Council noted that an Action Plan had been prepared for the implementation of the External Auditor’s recommendations. The Council forwarded the Report of the External Auditor and the following Resolution to the Conference for adoption:
Draft Resolution for the Conference
Having considered the Report of the Hundred and Twenty-third Session of the Council,
Having examined the 2000-2001 FAO Audited Accounts and the External Auditor’s Report thereon,
- Adopts the Audited Accounts.
96. The Council considered and agreed to the adoption of a new Staff Regulation 301.3.35 which would read as follows; “Eligibility for the grant under Staff regulation 301.3.31 shall continue for the balance of the scholastic year in course, not exceeding one full scholastic year, when the staff member dies during the course of school year”. In view of the above-mentioned new Staff Regulation, Staff Regulation presently numbered 301.3.35 will be re-numbered 301.3.36.
97. The Council noted the difficult market conditions affecting the long-term investment portfolio and the Secretariat’s actions to improve the overall management of these holdings. The Council further noted that the sole purpose of the long-term investment portfolio was to meet staff-related liabilities, but that this funding source was likely to be insufficient to address the growing liability for After Service Medical Care obligations, for which an assured source of funding needed to be secured.
98. The Council confirmed that the paramount consideration in the employment of staff should be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, with due regard being given to recruiting on as wide a geographical basis as possible. In the light of the various methodologies used in the UN System to determine equitable geographic distribution, the Council requested the Secretariat to prepare options for a new FAO methodology.
99. In preparing this proposal, the Secretariat should, inter alia, address the number and type of posts to be covered by the geographic distribution system and the upper and lower limits of the desirable range, as well as consider the regional dimension of geographic representation in particular for high-level posts. Prior to submission to the next session of the Council, the views the Finance Committee should be sought.
100. The Council considered and adopted the Reports of the Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth Sessions of the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters (CCLM).
101. As regards the item Composition of the Programme and Finance Committees discussed by the CCLM at its Seventy-fourth Session, one regional group reiterated the importance of fair and equitable representation of regions in the Programme and Finance Committees, and the need to bring the composition of these Committees in line with ground realities. The Council agreed that Regional Groups shall consult and report to the next session of the Council in June 2003.
102. The Council paid tribute to the outstanding work carried
out by His Excellency
Francis Montanaro Mifsud, Ambassador of the Republic of Malta to FAO, during the many years of activity at FAO and, during the last year, as Chairperson of the CCLM.
103. In accordance with Paragraphs B-1 and B-2 of the “Statement of Principles relating to the Granting of Observer Status to Nations”,24 the Council agreed that the Russian Federation attend its Session as an observer.
104. The Council was also informed that since its Hundred and Twenty-second Session, the Director-General, having been so requested, had extended an invitation to the Russian Federation to attend as an observer, the Thirty-second Session of the European Commission on Agriculture (Rome, 7-8 March 2002), the Technical Consultation on Improving Information on the Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries (Rome, 25-28 March 2002) and the Twenty-second Session of the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (Winderemere, United Kingdom, 19-22 June 2002).
105. The Council was informed of the applications for membership received from the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia and from the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
106. Pending a decision by the Conference on these applications and pursuant to Rule XXV.11 of the General Rules of the Organization and paragraphs B-1, B-2 and B-5 of the “Statement of Principles relating to the Granting of Observer Status to Nations”, the Council authorized the Director-General to invite the applicant countries to participate, in an observer capacity, to the present Council session, as well as regional and technical meetings of the Organization of interest to them.
107. The Council considered document CL 123/INF/20 entitled Number of terms of office of the Director-General, Article VII.1 of the Constitution of FAO, and noted that it provided useful and complete information on the issues under consideration.
108. The Chairman informed the Council that he had been holding contacts with the Chairpersons of the various regional groups during the course of the week and that as a result of such consultations, agreement had been reached on the main principles among the regional groups with respect to the following text:
a) The Council - with reference to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 51/241 - asked the Independent Chairman of the Council together with a regional representative group of “Friends of the Chair” to deal in a transparent and participatory manner with the question of the number and length of terms of office of the Director-General (cf. Article VII.1 of the Constitution), keeping in mind the transitional provisions such as: i) the date of entry into force of an amended Article VII.1 of the Constitution; and ii) the rights and obligations of the incumbent. The “Friends of the Chair” would be expected to consult, as necessary, with their respective groups, noting that many Members wished to have adequate time to consult on this matter with their capitals and/or the regional organizations to which they belonged.
b) Meetings of the “Friends of the Chair” would be called by the Independent Chairman of the Council or his designate, as deemed necessary, or upon request of at least two of the Members of the “Friends of the Chair”, bearing in mind the objective to work out a consensus in order for the Secretariat to prepare a detailed proposal well before the next session of the Council in June 2003 for their review on changing Article VII.l of the Constitution, with a view to adopting a decision at the Conference at its Thirty-second Session in November-December 2003. A decision by the Council in June 2003 with a recommendation to the Conference would have to be submitted to the Seventy-sixth Session of the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters (CCLM) in October 2003 before it went to the Conference, through the Council immediately preceding the Conference.c) At an early date after the closure of this Council there would be a briefing open to all Members of the Organization on the experience of term limits in UN Organizations, based upon updated information from the Secretariat. In addition, all Members would receive interim reports from the Independent Chairman of the Council on progress achieved.
d) The revision of Article VII.l of the Constitution, in this regard, which could be adopted by the Conference in November-December 2003, would be applied from the Thirty-third Session of the Conference in 2005.
109. The Council agreed to the proposed course of action.
110. In the ensuing debate, Members expressed a range of views on substantive issues related to the item, and clarified their positions with respect to the text.
111. The Group of 77, expressed the position that the adoption of the new provisions should not have any effect that could discriminate against the incumbent Director-General. Consequently, any revision of Article VII.1 of the Constitution should be adopted by the Conference, with the proviso that the incumbent Director-General would have the same rights and obligations as any other candidates.
112. The European Community and its fifteen Member States, while expressing a preference for a four-year term renewable once, noted that there were many different options on the number and lengths of terms of office and on the date of entry into effect. It was their intention to aim at the broadest possible consensus.
113. Several Members stressed that there was a need to strike the right balance between continuity and change in the leadership of the Organization, and to set an upper limit on the term of office of Executive Heads.
114. The Council noted arrangements regarding the Group of Friends of the Chair.
115. The Council approved the Calendar of FAO Governing Bodies and other Main Sessions for 2003 and was informed of the draft calendar for 2004, both of which are set out in Appendix F to this Report. In adopting the calendar for 2003, the Council decided that its Hundred and Twenty-fourth Session would be convened between 23 and 28 June 2003 at FAO Headquarters.
116. In accordance with Staff Regulation 301.1111, the Council appointed His Excellency Widodo Sutiyo, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the Holy See, as First Alternate Chairperson of the Appeals Committee.
117. The Council noted the statement by the Chairperson of the Field Staff Association (FSA) who spoke on behalf of the three Staff Representative Bodies and underlined that the safety and security of staff were of primary importance and adequate measures needed to be taken to ensure the security of staff world-wide. Recognizing the improvements in communication between the staff representatives and management, she pointed out that the introduction of a new Performance Appraisal System and a Policy for the Prevention of Harassment were of importance to both the staff and the Organization, and were being developed.
1 CL 123/1; CL 123/1-Add.1; CL 123/INF/1; CL 123/INF/6; CL 123/INF/20; CL 123/PV/1; CL 123/PV/9.
2 CL 123/INF/9; CL 123/INF/9-Sup.1; CL 123/PV/1; CL 123/PV/9.
3 CL 123/2; CL 123/PV/1; CL 123/PV/2; CL 123/PV/9.
4 CL 123/10; CL 123/PV/3; CL 123/PV/9.
5 CL 123/21; CL 123/INF/8; CL 123/PV/3; CL 123/PV/9.
6 CL 123/22; CL 123/22-Corr.1 (French only); CL 123/22-Add.1; CL 123/PV/3; CL 123/PV/7; CL 123/PV/9.
7 CL 123/3; CL 123/PV/7; CL 123/PV/9.
8 CL 123/4-Rev.1; CL 123/PV/7; CL 123/PV/9.
9 CL 123/19; CL 123/19-Sup.1; CL 123/LIM/4 CL 123/PV/2; CL 123/PV/7; CL 123/PV/9.
10 TRIPS: World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
11 CL 123/20; CL 123/PV/2; CL 123/PV/9.
12 C 2003/8; CL 123/12 paras 45-50; CL 123/15 paras 5-14; CL 123/PV/4; CL 123/PV/9.
13 CL 123/7; CL 123/9 paras 4-10; CL 123/12 paras 4-44; CL 123/15 paras 15-22; CL 123/PV/4; CL 123/PV/9.
14 CL 123/8; CL 123/9; CL 123/PV/5; CL 123/PV/9.
15 CL 123/8 para 8; CL 123/9 paras. 11&12; CL 123/PV/5; CL 123/PV/9.
16 CL 123/11, CL 123/12; CL 123/PV/5; CL 123/PV/9.
17 CL 123/13; CL123/14; CL123/15; CL123/23; CL 123/PV/6; CL 123/PV/9.
18 CL 123/LIM/1; CL 123/PV/6; CL 123/PV/9.
19 CL 123/PV/6; CL 123/PV/9.
20 CL 123/PV/6; CL 123/PV/9.
21 CL 123/18; CL 123/PV/6; CL 123/PV/9.
22 CL 123/5; CL 123/16; CL 123/PV/8; CL 123/PV/9.
23 CL 123/LIM/2; CL 123/PV/1; CL 123/PV/9.
24 See FAO Basic Texts, Volume II, Section L (Appendix).
25 CL 123/17; CL 123/PV/1; CL 123/PV/9.
26 CL 123/INF/20; CL 123/PV/8; CL 123/PV/9.
27 CL 123/6-Rev.1; CL 123/PV/8; CL 123/PV/9.
28 CL 123/LIM/3; CL 123/PV/8; CL 123/PV/9.
29 CL 123/PV/1; CL 123/PV/8; CL 123/PV/9.