FAO Conference ends, membership reaches 180

Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (above) and Martti Ahtisaari, the President of Finland, address the FAO Conference during its thirtieth session

The governing FAO Conference has ended its thirtieth session, after agriculture ministers and other senior officials re-elected Director-General Jacques Diouf to a second six-year term, voted in five new member countries and set the Organization's budget for the next two years.

On 20 November, the Conference elected FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf to a second six-year term with an overwhelming majority of 137 votes to 26 for his opponent, Argentina's Ambassador to Sweden, Juan Carlos Vignaud. Dr Diouf will begin his new term as leader of the Organization in January 2000.

Two heads of state addressed the Conference during the nine-day session. In his speech, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso said: "This is the moment to renew our trust in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It is time now to double our efforts so that FAO can accomplish its high responsibility of finding solutions to the problems of hunger and malnutrition, at the moment the most important issues on our agenda."

Martti Ahtisaari, the President of Finland, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union until the end of 1999, focused his address on sustainable forestry management. Said Ahtisaari: "FAO's work in global forest resource assessment and the evaluation of the state of the world's forests is commendable and should be further strengthened. The organization-wide strategic planning process offers renewed opportunities to effectively address the interface between agriculture and forestry, and the role of forests in food security and poverty reduction through the enhancement of rural livelihoods."

Five new member states were admitted to FAO by the Conference. They are Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Niue, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of San Marino. Membership in FAO now stands at 180 countries and one member organization, the European Community.

The Conference also voted FAO a US$650 million budget for 2000-2001, the same level as 1998-99 and 1996-97. This again effectively requires FAO to absorb increased costs, estimated at $4 million this biennium, resulting from inflation.

The thirty-first session of the FAO Conference will be held in Rome from 2 to 13 November 2001.

Listen to or download an audio clip from an interview with Mr Benalia Belhouajeb, Algerian Minister of Agriculture and the President of the Thirtieth Session of the FAO Conference (available in French only):

  • RealAudio (409 Kb)
    Instant play but lower quality than mp3. To listen to a RealAudio sound file, Realplayer G2 is required (available free on the Web).
  • Mp3 (broadcast quality) (1562 Kb to be downloaded)
    To listen to an mp3 sound file, an mp3 player, Quicktime 4.0, RealJukebox player or Windows Media Player is required (all available free on the Web).

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29 November 1999

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