1. The Hundred and Twentieth Session of the Council was held in Rome from 18 to 23 June 2001 under the Chairmanship of Mr Sjarifudin Baharsjah, 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: Mr Blair Hankey (Canada), Mr Angel Sartori Arellano (Chile) and Mr Mohammad Saeed Nouri-Naeeni (Iran, Islamic Republic of).
4. The Council elected Ms Hedwig Wögerbauer (Austria) as Chairperson of the Drafting Committee with the following membership: Australia, Austria, Cyprus, France, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of), Syria, United States of America and Zimbabwe.
5. The Council expressed appreciation for the Secretariat document4 and generally concurred with its depiction of the current world food situation.
6. The Council:
7. The Council took note that, in addition to the biennial reporting to the June Session of the Council on the Current World Food Situation, the Secretariat also reported annually to either the Conference or the October/November Session of the Council on the State of Food and Agriculture and provided the Committee on World Food Security annually with an Assessment of the World Food Security Situation. As this constituted a duplication, the Council decided that future biennial sessions of the Council in June should no longer envisage an agenda item, nor a separate report from the Secretariat, on the Current World Food Situation.
8. The Council endorsed the Report of the Twenty-fourth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), commending the work of its Chairperson, Mr Masayuki Komatsu, the Secretariat and the commitment by its Members to ensure a strong, accurate and responsible outcome from the Session.
9. The International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU) was endorsed by the Council. The Council noted that the IPOA-IUU was timely and would help ensure that fisheries were more sustainably utilized.
10. Noting the growing contribution made by aquaculture to food security, the Council endorsed the establishment of the COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture. The Council particularly welcomed the offers of technical and financial support from a number of its Members.
11. The Council recommended that the ecosystem-based fisheries management studies to be conducted by FAO, as agreed in paragraph 39 of the Report of COFI, should be balanced and holistic in approach. The Council's attention was drawn to the fact that COFI welcomed the opportunity offered by the Reykjavik Conference on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem, which will be held from 1 to 4 October 2001, to address matters related to ecosystem-based fisheries management. It agreed that the Conference would be an appropriate forum to address these matters.
12. With respect to restrictions on trade and the use of fish meal for animal feed on the grounds of an alleged link to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the Council noted the recent position of a group of Members and the call made previously to FAO to closely monitor scientific developments on this subject and on the safety of fish meal in animal feeding, and to report back regularly to Members on this matter. The Council welcomed the referral on this matter to the next session of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade.
13. The Council noted the serious concerns about the lack of balance among regions in resource allocations and the need to provide increased allocations to developing countries for policy and technical assistance. The Council expressed support that a higher share of the FAO budget should be allocated to the Fisheries Programme.
14. In this regard, the Council affirmed that increased emphasis on work should be given to long-term commitments such as the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the IPOAs, as well as development of responsible aquaculture and that, in general, further attention should be devoted to promoting improvements in global fisheries management. This would include the management of small-scale fisheries; the development of ecosystem approaches to fisheries management; trade aspects including fish quality and safety considerations; fishing gear selectivity and waste reduction; resource assessment and monitoring; fish disease control and the management and harvest and post-harvest of such under-exploited resources as mesopelagic stocks, as well as the special requirements of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
15. Members discussed the Multilateral High-Level Conference (MHLC) to elaborate the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly-Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western Central Pacific Ocean. Some Members expressed the view that countries having a real interest in the fisheries concerned had not been allowed to participate in the MHLC. While noting this view, other Members emphasized that the negotiations were concluded outside the framework of FAO, and that this issue had not been raised at COFI. The Secretariat explained that FAO had observed all sessions of the negotiations process, but was not in a position to comment on the views expressed.
16. The Council endorsed the Report of the Sixty-third Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP), and thanked its Chairperson, Mr Krassimir Kostov of Bulgaria.
17. The Council re-affirmed the need for continued monitoring of the world commodity situation and outlook. In undertaking this work, it requested that a balanced assessment be carried out of all the factors influencing markets and trade in commodities. It drew attention, in particular, to the importance of continuing to monitor the export earnings as well as the food import bills of developing countries, measures of agricultural support, agricultural trade among developing countries and developments in international commodity agreements. It urged that increased efforts be made to widely disseminate information, particularly through WAICENT.
18. The Council expressed concern that many developing countries lacked the capacity to benefit from the rapid developments in biotechnology. It requested FAO to continue to monitor such developments and assist countries to improve their capacities to benefit from them in the production and trade of agricultural commodities.
19. The Council expressed appreciation for FAO's trade-related technical assistance activities, and in particular its technical support to developing countries for the Multilateral Trade Negotiations on Agriculture. It urged that this assistance be strengthened, and recognized the need for additional resources, particularly from extra-budgetary contributions. The strengthening of national capacities to cope with the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) should also be part of the programme.
20. The Council welcomed the continued analysis of agricultural trade policy issues, including assessments of the impact of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture. It urged that this work be strengthened. In this context, many Members requested that particular attention be given to the analysis of agricultural trade-distorting policies and their impact on the food security of the non-subsidizing countries.
21. The Council recognized the work of the intergovernmental groups (IGGs) in facilitating greater understanding of trade in commodities. It urged that attempts be made to encourage greater government and private sector participation in their activities. At the same time, the Council encouraged the continuation of work by the Secretariat on selected commodities such as cotton, sugar, coffee and cocoa which played an important part in the export earnings of developing countries but which were not covered by the IGGs.
22. The Council noted the request to review the structure of and mandate given to the Committee on Commodity Problems in the light of present conditions of food and agriculture within the framework of FAO.
23. The Council endorsed the Report of the Fifteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) and thanked its Chairperson, Ms Lael Bethlehem (South Africa).
24. The Council noted the many recommendations within the COFO Report which supported the important role of FAO in assisting Member Nations to achieve the sustainable management and conservation of their forests. The Council stressed:
25. The Council stressed the importance of several priority roles for FAO which had been discussed during COFO, including support to national forest programmes and country capacity- building; provision of a neutral forum; information and knowledge management, including forest definitions and terminology to promote common understanding thereof; establishment of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management; forest resource assessments; forest fire management; and support for countries experiencing drought and desertification, as well as countries with low forest cover.
26. The Council requested FAO to continue its support to international forest processes, including the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). The Council supported FAO's leadership role in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), an innovative approach to promoting cooperation among major international organizations which were working on forest issues. It stressed the need for FAO to continue to collaborate with the Secretariats of international conventions related to forests, especially the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD).
27. The Council supported FAO's role as the lead agency for the International Year of Mountains, 2002 (IYM). It noted that many special initiatives were planned in 2002 to raise awareness and promote actions to achieve sustainable mountain development, including international activities, and encouraged Member Nations to actively participate in and support these initiatives and the means to support them through the Trust Fund established by FAO.
28. The Council endorsed the Report of the Sixteenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) and thanked its Chairman, Mr Paul Ross (Australia).
29. The Council welcomed the emphasis on multi-disciplinary approaches to issues of agriculture embodied in the Medium Term Plan as `Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action' (PAIAs). Similarly, it appreciated the widening of partnerships and expansion of dialogue to include, inter alia, non-governmental, civil society organizations and the private sector. The Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) that was held concurrently with the COAG session exemplified this broadening of dialogue. The Council endorsed FAO's role as `Task Manager' for those chapters of Agenda 21 that are under its leadership, and the proposal that SARD be a standing agenda item on the COAG Agenda every four years.
30. The Council recommended the strengthening of Regular Programme funding of the international standard-setting bodies hosted by FAO, the Codex Alimentarius and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), together with related mechanisms providing science-based recommendations to these bodies. FAO's assistance in national capacity-building in this regard was considered vital.
31. The Council underscored the advantages of responsible use of new technologies, including biotechnologies. The Council recognized the need to further clarify the term `biosecurity'. It welcomed FAO's explanation that this encompassed existing bodies and agreements rather than the creation of any new overarching international frameworks. The Council noted that COAG had called for further information on the proposed consultation on Biosecurity for Food and Agriculture and took note of the Secretariat's explanation that this consultation would bring together experts from national regulatory agencies that addressed food safety and animal and plant health.
32. The Council:
33. There was agreement on the importance of the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS). The Council recommended that the Secretariat analyze the suitability and rationale for the classification of Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) as a basis for determining aid allocations. In doing so, it acknowledged that the validity of the classification system itself should be clearly distinguished from its use as a criterion for aid.
34. The Council endorsed the recommendation to formalize the Working Group on Climate Change and Variability in relation to agriculture and food security into an Inter-Departmental Working Group (IDWG) within the framework of a Priority Area for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIA). It encouraged the PAIA to focus on relevant data collection and its interpretation, and on definitions and methodologies. The Council invited the IDWG to limit its mandate to those issues for which FAO had a direct mandate.
35. The Council underlined the importance of FAO's assistance to Member Nations on prevention and preparedness programmes to reduce vulnerability to storm-related disasters. Promotion of agricultural practices, such as conservation agriculture that protected soils, minimized the effects of climate variability, and improved plant nutrient use efficiency were appreciated as elements of SARD, as well as ways of addressing climate variability and storm-preparedness. The Council underscored the issues of water scarcity and water use efficiency as integral parts of SARD.
36. The Council noted the request for the Consultative Forum on Seeds for Latin America and the Caribbean to be granted formal recognition with FAO. The Secretariat informed that Technical Committees were studying this matter for several regions and the request would be submitted to the Council for consideration.
37. The Council appreciated the work of the Twenty-seventh Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), endorsed the findings and recommendations contained in the Committee's Report10, and thanked its Chairperson, Mr Aidan O'Driscoll (Ireland).
38. With regard to the assessment of the world food security situation, the Council stressed the importance of the forthcoming Multilateral Trade Negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in contributing to the goal of food security. Several Members said that the liberalization of trade in agricultural products was a priority aspect for achieving equal opportunities and food security. The Council noted that rural development, like food security and food safety, had been added to the work programme of the WTO within the list of non-trade concerns. It also noted that the livelihood security of the rural poor, which was linked to rural development, deserved particular attention in the context of trade liberalization.
39. The Council recommended that the Secretariat analyze the suitability and rationale for the classification of Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) as a basis for determining aid allocations. In doing so, it acknowledged that the validity of the classification system itself should be clearly distinguished from its use as a criterion for aid.
40. With regard to HIV/AIDS, the Council noted with deep concern that the disease had negative repercussions on food security. When adults fell ill and died, households experienced food insecurity because of a number of factors which included declining agricultural production, rising medical bills and increased numbers of dependants to look after. The Council urged FAO to take all appropriate measures within its mandate to address AIDs-related problems to mitigate its effects on food security and nutrition. It was recognized, however, that many of the most urgent actions were the responsibility of other organizations.
41. With respect to lessons learned regarding the application of appropriate technologies through community-based action, the Council stressed the importance of encouraging field visits of Members, exchanges of experts, and a more systematic monitoring of both successes and failures. Several Members mentioned their positive experiences with technology transfer through the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), including South-South Cooperation, and suggested that it might provide an appropriate framework for following up on some of the above recommendations.
42. The Council endorsed the Committee's proposals to consider "The impact of disasters on long-term food security and poverty alleviation - policy implications" as the thematic issue to be discussed at its Twenty-eighth Session, and "The impact of access to land on improving food security and alleviating rural poverty - a review of successful cases of land reform in selected countries" as the topic for the informal panel discussion at its next session. It also endorsed the FAO-led initiatives to convene, jointly with the World Health Organization (WHO), a Global Forum on Food Safety Regulators in October 2001 and a Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality in February 2002.
43. The Council took note of the statements of those Members who spoke regarding the continued use of food as an instrument of political pressure despite the World Food Summit Plan of Action and the Rome Declaration to the contrary and the need for monitoring this situation. It recalled that the Rome Declaration on World Food Security stated that food should not be used as an instrument for political and economic pressure.
44. In addressing the question of preparations for the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl), the Council noted that the Committee on World Food Security had generally agreed to the proposals made by the Secretariat12 concerning arrangements for the conduct of the event, and had made specific recommendations thereof.
45. The Council welcomed the document on the financial implications arising from the Committee's recommendations13, and the consequent enhancement of transparency in this regard. It re-emphasized the need to minimize the incremental costs to the Regular Programme, and noted that the recommendations of the CFS met this objective. It was also noted that the strategy of using the CFS and Council for preparations and of combining the event with the Conference had permitted the absorption of costs that otherwise would have been incremental. However, significant unbudgeted costs could arise from the scheduling of additional meetings.
46. With these considerations in mind, the Council endorsed the findings and conclusions of the Committee with regard to:
47. With regard to the Resolution which would constitute the outcome of the World Food Summit: five years later, the Council also agreed to the CFS recommendation, and established an Open-Ended Working Group for countries invited to the World Food Summit: five years later to undertake negotiations thereon during its Session. The Council decided that the Co-Chairs of the group would be Ambassador Mary Margaret Muchada (Zimbabwe) and Mr Aidan O'Driscoll (Ireland).
48. The Council agreed that the Resolution should be concise, focused, balanced and concrete. Many Members identified issues which they wished to see included in the Resolution, and these were transmitted for consideration by the Open-Ended Working Group, along with the elements which had been identified by the Bureau of the CFS and additional proposals which Members made subsequently.
49. At its final meeting, the Council received a report from the Co-Chairs of the Open-Ended Working Group. The Council noted that the draft proposal for the Resolution to be adopted by the World Food Summit: five years later at the Thirty-first Session of the Conference of FAO formulated by the Group, although not final, represented considerable progress towards an agreed outcome for the WFS:fyl. Expressing appreciation for the constructive work of the Open-Ended Working Group, the Council decided to reconvene it at its Hundred and Twenty-first Session for final consideration of the proposal, confident that consensus could be reached at that time.
50. Taking into account the support expressed by many Members during the debate for the proposal to open a Trust Fund in FAO, the Council also decided to establish this Trust Fund, to be financed by voluntary contributions initially for an amount of US$500 million, to serve as a catalyst for accelerating food production, improving food access in developing countries and for the prevention, control and eradication of transboundary pests and diseases of plants and animals. It also requested the Director-General to take the necessary steps to mobilize resources for the Fund. A number of Members expressed the view that the matter was still under debate in the Open-Ended Working Group.
51. The Chairman of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Ambassador Fernando Gerbasi (Venezuela) presented a progress report on the negotiations for the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources, pursuant to Conference Resolution 7/93. He noted that the Commission had dedicated to the process four extraordinary sessions and six sessions of a Chairman's Contact Group, as well as part of two regular sessions of the Commission.
52. He informed the Council that the last Contact Group meeting (Spoleto, Italy, 22-28 April 2001) had unanimously agreed to continue negotiations on the basis of a Chairman's Simplified Text, and that the Spoleto meeting had considered that the conclusion of the negotiations was within reach. It had therefore requested that the Sixth Extraordinary Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture be convened from 24 to 30 June 2001, in order to finalize and agree upon the text of the International Undertaking for submission to the Thirty-first Session of the Conference in November 2001, as had been requested by the Council at its Hundred and Nineteenth Session.
53. The Council emphasized the importance of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture for world food security for this and future generations, and of effective and durable international arrangements that met the specific needs of farmers and of the agricultural sector.
54. The Council recognized that consensus had been reached on many difficult issues. It noted that there were still a number of substantive issues under discussion, which would require the necessary political will, flexibility and creativity. Recognizing the extremely high level of interdependence of all countries as regarded plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, the Council encouraged the countries to find a consensus solution.
55. The Council recalled the request of the Hundred and Nineteenth Session of the Council to submit the text to the Thirty-first Session of the FAO Conference in November 2001. Some Members stated that it should be placed for decision only if it had been finalized and agreed by the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Other Members expressed the wish that the decision to present the text to the Conference be left up to the Director-General in accordance with FAO procedural rules. The Council appealed to all the negotiating parties to work constructively to make the forthcoming session of the Commission a success.
56. The Council recognized the great advances that had been made in these complex negotiations, in particular in the previous two years, and expressed its gratitude to Ambassador Gerbasi for his dedication and untiring efforts.
57. The Council approved the Annual Report of the Executive Board and expressed appreciation for the work carried out by the Executive Director and the staff of the Programme. Furthermore, the Council praised the successful work of the Executive Director in her role as the Secretary-General's Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa. The Council further commended the President of the Executive Board, Ambassador Mohammad Saeed Nouri-Naeeni during 2000 for ably conducting the work of the Board in that period.
58. The Council noted that a conclusion had been reached at WFP on the role of food aid in development, as stated in the Enabling Development Policy duly approved by the Executive Board. A large number of Members expressed concern over the declining resources for development activities and appealed for greater support for them. Some Members called for full funding of all approved projects and operations.
59. The Council also expressed concern for the security of WFP and other humanitarian staff, and encouraged the Executive Director to continue her leading efforts to improve staff security.
60. The Council welcomed the implementation of decentralization, and praised the increased WFP presence in the field to be achieved through the opening of new Regional Bureau Offices in Africa and Asia.
61. The Council examined the documents prepared by the Secretariat (CL 120/11; CL 120/11-Sup.1 and CL 120/11-Sup.2) and endorsed the arrangements proposed.
62. The Council agreed to submit to the Conference for approval the Provisional Agenda as amended17, the tentative Timetable and the Arrangements outlined in the related Council documents, and in particular recommended that:
63. With regard to the World Food Summit: five years later (Item 5 of the Agenda), the Council considered that in view of the unique nature of the event, special arrangements were required for the chairing of the debates in the Plenary. The Council noted that a broad consensus had emerged in favour of inviting the President of the Council of Ministers of Italy to take the Chair of the World Food Summit: five years later, and decided to put this nomination to the Conference.
64. It further decided that the Chair of the World Food Summit: five years later should be assisted by six Vice-Chairs, and requested that the nominations for these positions be submitted to the Council at its Hundred and Twenty-first Session.
65. The Council endorsed the recommendations of the Twenty-seventh Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) with regard to other specific arrangements for the World Food Summit: five years later, as outlined in paras 44 to 50 of this Report. Accordingly, the revised tentative Timetable is given in Appendix D to this Report.
66. The Council decided to establish the deadline for the receipt of nominations for Independent Chairman of the Council at 12.00 hours on Friday, 17 August 2001.
67. The Council noted that consultations had taken place among Heads of Delegations represented at the Council Session and that there was consensus on the following designations:
|Chairperson of Conference:||United Arab Emirates|
|Chairperson of Commission I:||Country from Group of 77|
|Chairperson of Commission II:||Germany|
Following consultations by the Director-General regarding the availability of the nominated persons, the Council would make definitive nominations to the Conference for these posts.
68. The Council noted that there was consensus on the following designations to the Credentials Committee for the Thirty-first Session of the FAO Conference: Australia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, United States of America and Zimbabwe.
69. The Council addressed the proposals in the Summary Programme of Work and Budget (SPWB) 2002-03 with the benefit of the comments made by the Programme and Finance Committees. It acknowledged that the Council Timetable had been adjusted to allow consideration of the Reports of the Programme and Finance Committees prior to the debate on the SPWB, and requested a similar treatment for the Reports of the Technical Committees in the future.
70. The Council welcomed the close links established with the Strategic Framework 2000-2015 and the Medium Term Plan 2002-0720, including the special emphasis put on Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs). It noted that the proposals had sought to anticipate the outcome of the sessions of the Technical Committees held earlier in the year. The Secretariat had submitted an additional information document21, summarizing the full potential financial impact of the recommendations made by these Committees.
71. The Council agreed that the Programme Committee should examine the feasibility of developing preliminary information on Programme of Work and Budget proposals and submit them to the Committees on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
72. The Council recognized that the proposals of the SPWB reflected the heavy demands placed on the Organization. It agreed that FAO should be afforded adequate resources to implement its mandate without stating what that level of resources should be.
73. At the same time, the Council observed that Members, individually or in groups, had different perceptions of the relative priority to be attached to the activities or services they required from the Organization. It emphasized its expectation of an appropriate balance between normative and operational activities.
74. As regards the substantive thrust of the proposals, most Members endorsed the balance proposed in the strengthening of FAO's Technical and Economic Programmes, as well as the increased resources provided for the Technical Cooperation Programme. Some Members expressed the view that fisheries and forestry activities should have benefited from a higher allocation of resources from within existing levels, especially to take account of the International Plans of Action endorsed by the Committee on Fisheries and the expected lead role of FAO to support major forestry initiatives, including the UN Forum on Forests. Others requested to maintain the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) at the level projected in the Medium Term Plan for the biennium under consideration.
75. In welcoming the steps taken to ensure balanced language coverage, the Council took note of progress expected in this direction, particularly in relation to the World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) and FAO's Website.
76. Regarding the budget level, different views were expressed:
77. The Council noted that more recent information had led to an upward revision of the estimate for cost increases in the next biennium, but that, as usual, this estimate would be further refined in the full Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) document. It also recognized that the US$-Italian Lira/Euro rate of exchange was bound to have a considerable influence on the budget level. While the current budget rate of Lira 1,875 to one US dollar had been used in the document to facilitate comparison with the PWB 2000-01, current rates were much higher, and if they so continued until the time of the Conference, the adverse impact of cost increases would be greatly reduced.
78. The Council recalled the importance of continued attention to efficiency savings, appreciating the substantial gains made by FAO in the recent past. Some Members felt that benchmarking with comparable organizations could be helpful in the search for further efficiency gains. Other Members stressed that the identification of efficiency savings should not be made at the expense of the substantive programmes of the Organization. The Council endorsed the recommendation of the Programme and Finance Committees that FAO should maintain adequate administrative infrastructures.
79. Some Members requested that the alternative scenarios, including a Zero Nominal Growth (ZNG) scenario, be presented in the full Programme of Work and Budget to enable Members to make an informed choice.
80. The Council recognized that the above range of positions precluded the formulation of a consensus recommendation on the budget level for 2002-03. It also highlighted the uncertainties linked to financial factors at the present time, including the forecast for cost increases and the impact of exchange rates.
81. Therefore, the Council invited Members to continue an active dialogue to pave the way for an eventual consensus, in the light of the full PWB. This would be pursued, through the forthcoming sessions of the Programme and Finance Committees in September and its own next session of late October-early November, prior to the final decision at the Conference.
82. While recalling discussion of this issue at its last session, the Council took note of the updated prospects for the availability of resources from arrears payments in excess of mandatory calls on such resources, which could be used to meet essential one-time expenditures. Thus, the Council recognized that an amount of about US$22 million would be available for such purposes, should full settlement of its arrears be effected by the major contributor before the end of the year.
83. In this light, the Council approved the revised list of priorities, as presented by the Director-General, and the requested flexibility to allocate resources between items, based upon more accurate estimates of cost as they become available and bearing in mind the possible effect of the level of the budget to eventually be approved by the Conference in November 2001.
84. The Council noted that, in addition to the Summary Programme of Work and Budget (SPWB) 2002-0325, the Joint Meeting had only one other item on its agenda, i.e. Proposed Reform of the General Debate at the Conference, and that the Committees had deferred their consideration of this item until May 2002.
85. The Council noted with interest that, in addition to its review of the SPWB proposals for 2002-03, the Programme Committee had been able to discuss several evaluation matters, including an evaluation of FAO's policy assistance activities. It shared the Committee's appreciation of the approach to this evaluation, including recourse to external experts, peer review of conclusions and the very constructive management response to recommendations. It also shared the Committee's view that the approach should be applied in future evaluations. It noted that evaluation reports should be presented when completed. The Council looked forward to the full implementation over time of these recommendations, given the importance that membership attached to FAO's policy advisory services. It emphasized, in particular, measures towards improved flexibility and rapidity of response to requests, and enhancing the catalytic role of the FAO Country Representatives in this regard.
86. The Council welcomed the recently-established section of FAO's Internet Website dedicated to evaluation, and the intent to ensure maximum disclosure of findings, including for field projects, subject to the agreement of concerned parties.
87. The Council noted that concerns about the decline of FAO's non-emergency Field Programmes funded from voluntary contributions had led the Committee to address this issue in the light of a progress report from the Secretariat. In stressing again the importance of a reinvigorated Field Programme for the membership, the Council welcomed the intent of the Committee to keep the evolution of FAO's field activities under regular scrutiny. It looked forward to being apprised of the results of these periodic assessments, singling out among important dimensions of the issue, the targeting of priorities of potential donors and the latitude of FAO Field Offices to carry out appropriate contacts in recipient countries.
88. The Council also observed that the Programme Committee had the opportunity to review a draft Plan of Action on Gender and Development, and that the comments made would assist in the finalization of the Plan for consideration by the Conference.
89. The Council endorsed the Audited Accounts 1998-99 and the Report of the External Auditor, as reviewed by the Finance Committee at its Ninety-sixth Session, and forwarded them together with the following Resolution to the Conference for adoption.
Draft Resolution for the Conference
FAO Audited Accounts 1998-99
Having considered the Report of the Hundred and Twentieth Session of the Council,
Having examined the 1998-99 FAO Audited Accounts and the External Auditor's Report thereon,
Adopts the Audited Accounts.
90. The Council considered the financial position of the Organization at 12 June 2001, and noted that with the exception of 1998 the percentage of current assessments received was lower when compared with the previous four years. Forty-four Member Nations had paid their Current Assessments in full, a further thirty-one Members had made partial payment, and one hundred and four had made no payment towards their 2001 Assessment.
91. The Council further noted that a new United Nations Scale of Assessments for 2001-2003 by General Assembly Resolution 55/5B of 22 December 2000 had meant that FAO had to prepare a revised Scale of Contributions for the year 2001 (in accordance with Conference Resolution 9/99), and had resulted in a delay of approximately four weeks compared to the previous year in sending out call letters to Member Nations for contributions due to the budget of the Organization for 2001. This delay had a consequent effect on the timing of payments of contributions.
92. The Council expressed concern over the high level of arrears outstanding and noted that fifty-seven Member Nations 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 continue to fulfil its mandate.
93. The Council noted that the Finance Committee had considered and endorsed the Annual Report on 2000 Budgetary Performance including the projected budgetary transfers between Chapters. While regretting that these transfers would negatively affect available resources under Chapter 2 of the Programme of Work and Budget, the Council appreciated the reasons for them and accordingly endorsed the Report.
94. The Council considered the proposed Scale of Contributions for 2002-2003 (Appendix E) and noted that it had been derived directly from the United Nations Scale of Assessments approved for those years, as established by General Assembly Resolution 55/5B adopted on 22 December 2000.
95. While many Members of the Council were prepared to recommend this Scale of Contributions to Conference, some other Members felt that transitional measures should be applied when introducing it, as was the case at the United Nations for 2001. It was recognized, however, that the identification of a source of financing for such measures was problematic.
96. Other Members expressed concern regarding the criteria used by the United Nations Committee on Contributions to establish the level of assessments upon which the proposed FAO Scale of Contributions was based. Many Members also indicated that there had been insufficient time for the necessary analysis and consultations for them to arrive at a position on the issues raised.
97. In this regard, concern was expressed at the late distribution of the document. The timely distribution of documents was requested, in particular of those relating to the Members' financial obligations.
98. In light of the diversity of views expressed, the Council concluded that it would be unable to reach a consensus on the Scale of Contributions at this session. It requested that the Secretariat prepare an explanatory paper on the criteria used to establish the UN Scale of Assessments for the September 2001 session of the Finance Committee. Following that session, a briefing on the matter should be organized for the Permanent Representatives in Rome.
99. The Council decided to revert to this matter at its next session with a view to achieving a consensus on the Scale of Contributions 2002-2003.
100. The Council noted the recommendation of the Finance Committee to appoint the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as External Auditor of the Organization.
101. The Council also noted that the proposals made by eligible bidders were of high quality and that the recommendation of the Finance Committee had been made after a thorough review of the merits of the different proposals based on the following criteria: independence, the qualifications of officials and staff, training and experience, audit approach and strategy and audit reports and costs.
102. The Council adopted the following Resolution:
Appointment of the External Auditor
Noting that the Finance Committee recommends the appointment of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as External Auditor of the Organization,
Recognizing the need and importance of the function of the External Auditor to review and certify the accounts of the Organization,
Decides to appoint the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as External Auditor of the Organization for a period of four years commencing with the year 2002.
(Adopted on 23 June 2001)
Role of the Finance Committee in the Management of Arrears
103. The Council considered the various options identified in the Report of the Finance Committee concerning the management of arrears. The Council noted that two options would require a change to FAO's Basic Texts, whereas two others would require no such change.
104. The general view of Council was that the Finance Committee should have no direct involvement in the review of the loss of voting rights of individual Member Nations. Further, the Council preferred that no change in FAO's Basic Texts on this matter be made.
105. Some Members indicated a preference for the option under which Member Nations that had lost their voting rights would be required to submit a request for restoration to the Conference. It was noted, however, that such requests in any case would have to be reviewed in some way prior to their submission to and consideration by the Conference as a whole.
106. As this would be essentially the same as the current procedure of review by the General Committee, the Council recommended that the current practice be retained.
Review of the Incentive Scheme to Encourage Prompt Payment of Contributions
107. The Council noted that the Incentive Scheme had been in effect since 1993, and that the Finance Committee had concluded that it had not produced any tangible improvement in the rate of collection of contributions that could justify its continuation. As well as the lack of effectiveness of the Scheme, its cost continued to be significant.
108. The Council noted the recommendation of the Finance Committee that the Scheme should be suspended for a period of four years (covering two biennia), effective 1 January 2002. At the end of this period, a review would be made of the impact of suspension of the Scheme on the rate of collection of contributions. On the basis of such review, a further recommendation would then be made for the abolition or reactivation of the scheme.
109. While many Members were prepared to accept the recommendation of the Finance Committee, others were of the view that the Incentive Scheme continued to serve a useful purpose and should be retained. As no consensus could be achieved on the matter, the current Scheme should be maintained. The Council agreed to reflect the divergent views in its Report.
110. In accordance with paragraphs B-1 and B-2 of the "Statement of Principles relating to the Granting of Observer Status to Nations"35, the Council agreed that the Russian Federation attend its Session as an observer.
111. The Council was also informed that since its Hundred and
Nineteenth Session (Rome,
20-25 November 2000), the Director-General, on so being requested, had extended an invitation to the Russian Federation to attend as an observer the Second Technical Consultation on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (Rome, 22 to 23 February 2001), the Thirty-fourth Session of the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Rome, 21-23 March 2001), the Sixteenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (Rome, 26-30 March 2001), the Twenty-fourth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (Rome, 26 February to 2 March 2001) and the Fifteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (Rome, 12-16 March 2001).
112. The Council was informed of the application for membership received from the Government of the Republic of Nauru.
113. Pending a decision by the Conference on this application 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 country to participate, in an observer capacity, in Council sessions, as well as in regional and technical meetings of the Organization of interest to it.
114. While considering the Revised Calendar of FAO Governing Bodies and Other Main Sessions 2001-2002 (Appendix F), which was submitted to the Council for information, the Council took note that its Hundred and Twenty-first Session would be held in Rome from 30 October to 1 November 2001.
115. The Council endorsed the nomination of the Canadian Responsible Fisheries Board and its Secretariat, and recommended that the Medal be presented to the representative of the Board by the Director-General as part of the proceedings of the Thirty-first Session of the Conference.
1 CL 120/1; CL 120/INF/1-Rev.1; CL 120/INF/6; CL 120/PV/1; CL 120/PV/12.
2 CL 120/INF/9; CL 120/PV/1; CL 120/PV/12.
3 CL 120/2; CL 120/PV/1; CL 12O/PV/2; CL 120/PV/12
4 CL 120/2.
5 CL 120/7; CL 120/PV/6; CL 120/PV/12.
6 CL 120/6; CL 120/PV/7; CL 120/PV/12.
7 CL 120/8; CL 120/PV/7; CL 120/PV/12.
8 CL 120/9; CL 120/PV/8; CL 120/PV/12.
9 CL 120/10; CL 120/PV/2; CL 120/PV/12.
10 CL 120/10.
11 CL 120/10; CL 120/10-Sup.1; CL 120/10-Sup.2; CL 120/LIM/3; CL 120/INF/18; CL 120/PV/1; CL 120/PV/2; CL 120/PV/12.
12 CL 120/11-Sup.1.
13 CL 120/LIM/3.
14 CL 120/INF/16; CL 120/PV/8; CL 120/PV/12.
15 CL 120/13-Rev.1; CL 120/INF/19; CL 120/PV/9; CL 120/PV/12.
16 CL 120/11; CL 120/PV/8; CL 120/PV/12.
17 CL 120/11-Sup.2.
18 CL 120/11; CL 120/PV/8; CL 120/PV/12.
19 CL 120/3; CL 120/3-Sup.1; CL 120/3-Sup.2; CL 120/4; CL 120/4-Corr.1; CL 120/14; CL 120/15; CL 120/PV/4; CL 120/PV/5; CL 120/PV/6; CL 120/PV/12.
20 CL 119/17.
21 CL 120/INF/17.
22 CL 120/16; CL 120/PV/6; CL 120/PV/12.
23 CL 120/4; CL 120/4-Corr.1; CL 120/PV/3; CL 120/PV/12.
24 CL 120/18; CL 120/PV/3; CL 120/PV/12.
25 CL 120/3.
26 CL 120/14; CL 120/INF/11 (para 68); CL 120/INF/13 (para 69); CL 120/PV/3; CL 120/PV/12.
27 CL 120/15; CL 120/INF/11 (para 73); CL 120/INF/12 (para 73); CL 120/INF/13 (para 74); CL 120/PV/3; CL 120/PV/4; CL 120/PV/12.
28 C 2001/5; CL 120/PV/3; CL 120/PV/12.
29 CL 120/LIM/1; CL 120/PV/3; CL 120/PV/12.
30 CL 120/15; CL 120/INF/11 (para 73); CL 120/INF/12 (para 73); CL 120/INF/13 (para 74); CL 120/PV/3; CL 120/PV/4; CL 120/PV/12.
31 CL 120/15; CL 120/PV/10; CL 120/PV/12.
32 CL 120/PV/3; CL 120/PV/12.
33 CL 120/15; CL 120/INF/11 (para 73); CL 120/INF/12 (para 73); CL 120/INF/13 (para 74); CL 120/PV/3; CL 120/PV/4; CL 120/PV/12.
34 CL 120/LIM/2; CL 120/PV/1; CL 120/PV/12.
35 See FAO Basic Texts, Volume II, Section L (Appendix).
36 CL 120/12; CL 120/PV/10; CL 120/PV/12.
37 CL 120/INF/8-Rev.2; CL 120/PV/10; CL 120/PV/12.
38 CL 120/INF/15; CL 120/PV/10; CL 120/PV/12.