Item 9.1 Proposed Draft Principles Concerning the Participation of International Non-Governmental Organizations in the Work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission
Item 9.2 Proposed Draft Criteria for the Establishment of ad hoc Intergovernmental Task Forces
71. The Committee noted that the Commission had requested the development of guidelines for the participation of International Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the work of Codex. The Committee welcomed the proposals contained in the document as contributing to the process of transparency and clarity in decision-making in the framework of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The Committee noted that the proposals related only to the procedures for granting "Observer Status" toNGOs in Codex under the provisions of Rule VII of the Commission's Rules of Procedure and did not relate to the participation ofNGOs in national delegations, as the composition of national delegations was a matter for national governments to decide.
72. Furthermore, it was noted that the proposals did not relate to the participation ofNGOs specified in other parts of the Procedural Manual, for example the special reference made to the role of IDF in the Uniform Procedures for the Elaboration of Codex Standards and Related Texts.
73. Several Delegations expressed the need for rules and guidelines which, while encouraging the participation of NGOs (especially consumer NGOs) did not diminish the role of the Commission as an intergovernmental body. There was general agreement that the proposal to include a provision forNGOs that were national in structure, but international in their scope of activity, should not be pursued. It was proposed that the relationship between an NGO and its members could be based on appropriate methods whereby members expressed their views.
74. Several Delegations questioned the proposal that where several NGOs were active in a given field of the Commission's activity, in principle only one should be granted Observer status on the basis that this would discourage the open participation of many NGOs which contribute positively to the Codex process. Other Delegations felt that this provision was helpful. The Committee decided to place the provision in square brackets and ask for further comments.
75. The Committee agreed that there should be clarification as to the nature of the documentation provided to NGOs, and that the limit of 2,000 words for written statements submitted by NGOs to Codex meetings should be deleted.
76. In regard to the review of "Observer Status" it was agreed that the period of time during which an NGO might be deemed not to have sufficient interest to warrant continuation of the status, be extended from 2 years to 4 years. It was also agreed to revise the questionnaire of information required of NGOs applying for "Observer Status" to simplify it and to ask essential questions relating to the credibility of the applicant organization.
77. The Committee noted that Rule VII provided for the relationship betweenNGOs and the Commission to be handled by the Directors-General. The question was raised as to whether Members of the Commission should not decide the extent of NGO participation and whether proposals for admission to "Observer Status" should not be approved by the Commission itself, on the recommendation of the Directors-General.
Status of the Proposed Draft Principles Concerning the Participation of International Non-Governmental Organizations in the Work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission
78. The Committee requested the Secretariat to revised the proposed Draft Guidelines in light of the above discussion and circulate them for government comments and for consideration at the Committee's next Session.
79. The Committee recalled that the establishment of ad hoc Intergovernmental Task Forces had been proposed by FAO Conference and Council as a means of providing flexibility in the establishment of new subsidiary bodies in place of establishing new permanent subsidiary bodies. The Committee noted that the proposals before it envisaged a revision of the Criteria for the Establishment of Work Priorities and for the Establishment of Subsidiary Bodies of the Codex Alimentarius Commission by separating the criteria for work priorities from the criteria for the establishment of subsidiary bodies.
80. Concerns were expressed that the establishment of ad hoc task forces might result in a duplication of work with ordinary Codex Committees and no budget savings would be made. However, the Committee agreed with the general direction of the proposal. It stressed that when new work was being considered, first priority should be to allocate work to an existing body, if necessary by expanding its Terms of Reference. New bodies should be established only if this were deemed to be impractical or inappropriate. It also agreed that the guidelines should state explicitly that ad hoc Intergovernmental Task Forces would be open to all Members of the Commission and follow the same Rules and Elaboration Procedures as other Codex bodies.
81. On this basis, the Committee amended the proposed criteria.
Status of the Criteria for the Establishment of Work Priorities and Criteria for the Establishment of Subsidiary Bodies
82. The Committee agreed to submit these two texts, as contained in Appendices II and III to this report, to the Commission for adoption at its 23rd Session and subsequent inclusion in the Procedural Manual. The existing Criteria for the Establishment of Work Priorities and for the Establishment of Subsidiary Bodies of the Codex Alimentarius Commission would then be withdrawn.
83. The Delegation of Switzerland expressed the view that criteria regarding the establishment of formal working groups in Codex Committees were needed.