1. The Hundred and Twenty-fourth Session of the Council was held in Rome from 23 to 28 June 2003 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: Alfredo Néstor Puig Pino (Cuba), Guntram Freiherr von Schenck (Germany) and Mohammad Saeid Noori-Naeini (Iran, Islamic Republic of).
4. The Council elected Samuel Cherunge Yegon (Kenya) as Chairperson of the Drafting Committee with the following membership: Australia, Chile, China, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Libya, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Syria and United States of America.
5. The Council commended the work of the Twenty-fifth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), and endorsed the report and recommendations made by the Session.
6. The Council approved the draft Strategy for Improving Information on Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries, and agreed that Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing be included in the agenda of the Thirty-second Session of the Conference to call the attention of decision-makers, within and outside of the fisheries sector, to this important issue. The Council further agreed that the Director-General should enter into consultation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations to define practical modalities in implementing the Trust Fund (Part VII) to support developing States Parties in their efforts to implement the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement.
7. The Council reconfirmed the crucial importance of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its related International Plans of Action (IPOAs) in promoting long-term sustainable development in capture fisheries and aquaculture. The Council underlined the need for FAO to pay special attention to aquaculture to increase fish production in generating income, to increase food security and to provide for the diversification of employment. The Council requested that appropriate resources be devoted to this sub-sector within the Fisheries Department budgetary allocation. The Council welcomed the offer of the Government of Japan to create a Trust Fund to support aquaculture development.
8. The Council affirmed that increased emphasis in the Fisheries Programme should be given to the management of small-scale fisheries, trade in fisheries products and related aspects, including eco-labelling, fish quality and safety considerations, monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) and vessel monitoring systems (VMS) as an integral part of fisheries management, strengthening of regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs), improving information and data, subsidies, and the finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Secretariats of FAO and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to strengthen cooperation.
9. The Council noted the many essential expert/technical consultations recommended by COFI, and welcomed the offer of the Government of Japan to host technical consultations on IUU and overcapacity, fishery subsidies and conservation of sea turtles. The Council underscored the importance of securing balanced regional representation at these meetings. The Council also stressed the need to ensure a more equitable allocation of resources among regions. The Council emphasized that increased technical and financial assistance should be made available for human capacity-building and institutional strengthening, particularly in developing countries.
10. The Council noted that serious concerns continued to be voiced by a group of countries regarding the maintenance of restrictions on trade and the use of fishmeal for animal feed, on the grounds of an alleged link to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). It welcomed the referral of this matter to the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade for review at its Ninth Session.
11. The Council endorsed the report of the Sixty-fourth Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP), recalling that one Member of the Committee had dissociated from the consensus adoption of the Report and had maintained that position.
12. The Council expressed concern at the low level of prices for many agricultural commodities, and noted the negative implications which low and variable prices had on incomes and food security in commodity-dependent countries. It also noted the negative impact which domestic support for agriculture and all forms of export subsidization in developed countries could have on global prices. It requested that the Secretariat continue its analysis of the impact which trade policies might have on the market access for products from developing countries and, in particular, on food security.
13. While the majority of Members recognized that trade liberalization which could arise from the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations would be generally beneficial to both developed and developing countries, they acknowledged that the benefits would not be evenly distributed, as some countries, particularly net food importers, could suffer economic losses. They also emphasized the importance of the Secretariat’s analytical work in this area, and supported the CCP recommendation that the Secretariat undertake further objective analyses of the winners and losers from liberalization, and that it develop suggestions for actions to ensure a more equitable sharing of benefits deriving therefrom.
14. Some Members accorded great importance to commodity studies, especially for sugar and coffee, due to the economic impact of protectionist policies and the influx of multinational corporations involved in their trade.
15. The Council recognized that not all countries had the capacity to participate effectively in world trade negotiations, and urged that the Secretariat continue its efforts to assist in this endeavour, as well as in the capacity to respond effectively to the evolving trade policy environment. It also recognized the limited capacity in many countries to analyze the potential impact of new biotechnologies, and requested the Secretariat to assist in developing this capacity. Other issues raised as meriting further analysis included growing market power in commodity value chains and the impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural production and trade.
16. The Council noted that sessions of the CCP had attracted relatively limited participation from developing countries. It welcomed the Secretariat’s examination of alternative means by which increased participation might be stimulated and sessions made more effective, including, possibly, by holding joint or back-to-back meetings of the CCP and the Committee on Agriculture (COAG). The Council looked forward to the opportunity to consider detailed proposals at its meeting in November 2003, following consideration by the Programme Committee.
17. The Council endorsed the Report of the Sixteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO).
18. 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:
19. The Council highlighted several important roles for FAO which had been discussed during COFO, including support to national forest programmes and country capacity-building; 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. The linkages among wood energy, food security and desertification were underscored.
20. 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). FAO’s important role in assisting countries throughout the International Year of Mountains was recognized and FAO was asked to support countries in follow-up activities, especially through the Partnership on Sustainable Development of Mountain Regions, in the framework of its plans and programmes and in harmony with its role and responsibility in Chapter 13 of Agenda 21.
21. The Council requested that FAO Regional Forestry Commissions be strengthened in order to support the efforts of Member Nations to implement sustainable forest management, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) proposals for action, by facilitating exchange of experiences, by building networks and by enhancing cooperation at all levels. The Council noted the Secretariat’s assurance that FAO was seeking to build linkages between the FAO Programme of Work and the IPF/IFF proposals for action.
22. The Council stressed the need for FAO to play an important role in the interface between forest management and watershed management. The Council also stressed the need to provide technical support to low forest cover countries for the sustainable management of forests and trees outside forests in order to contribute to the efforts exerted to combat desertification.
23. The Council commended FAO for the preparations of the Sixteenth Session of COFO, particularly the arrangement of Side Events and Parallel Events by partner organizations.
24. Several regions appreciated the increased share of resources programmed for forestry in the Medium-Term Plan 2004-09.
25. The Council endorsed the Report of the Seventeenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG). It noted that the Side Events organized in conjunction with the Session had provided an opportunity for less formal interaction among participants, and encouraged the Secretariat to continue the practice at future COAG sessions.
26. The Council agreed with the priorities indicated in the Report for the programme of work in the food and agriculture sector. It emphasized the importance of the work of the international standard-setting bodies hosted by FAO, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and Codex Alimentarius, and urged full funding of their identified needs under the Regular Programme. The Council also stressed the need for capacity-building in the application of, and compliance with, standards in modern technology for food and agriculture, and in multilateral trade negotiations.
27. The Council noted that FAO was leading preparations for the International Year of Rice in 2004, and invited extrabudgetary resources to support this event.
28. The Council noted FAO’s preliminary work to address a food chain approach to food safety, and looked forward to the provision of a revised document for further consideration. The Council also noted the work on a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) approach, which could contribute to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD), and looked forward to its further review at the next COAG session. It emphasized that these initiatives should involve voluntary, non-regulatory measures and practices that did not impede trade or impose undue financial demands on producers and consumers, while addressing the needs of small-scale farmers. It underscored the importance of propagating and sharing successful experiences in developed and developing countries, and of building capacity for implementation. The Council noted the proposed re-allocation of funding from the food chain strategy as agreed by the Programme Committee.
29. The Council acknowledged the linkages between poverty, food security, agricultural development and rural livelihoods in effecting lasting solutions to hunger, and the emphasis placed on working models and capacity-building. It noted that agro-environmental information and decision support tools would be of interest to numerous sectors, that information should be made widely available and that country initiatives should be complemented.
30. The Council agreed with the concept of further work on the International Portal on Food Safety, Animal and Plant Health in cooperation with relevant international organizations. It recognized the need for a common approach to capacity-building among various sectors involved in biosecurity at national level, based on the work of the relevant standard-setting bodies.
31. The Council noted the concerns expressed by some Members that some of the recommendations of the Report of the Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, while addressing the important relationship between diet and chronic diseases, could result in changes in demand with adverse impacts on small producers and the agricultural economies of developing countries, since they could become new barriers to trade. It welcomed the announcement that the Director-General had initiated action to convene a special session of COAG in early 2004 to review the Report together with FAO’s proposal for follow-up, and looked forward to receiving the COAG report at its subsequent session.
32. The Council welcomed the Secretariat’s examination of the possibility of combining meetings of COAG and CCP in order to achieve efficiency savings and improved participation. The Council looked forward to the opportunity to consider detailed proposals at its Hundred and Twenty-fifth Session in November, following consideration by the Programme and Finance Committees.
33. The Council endorsed the Report and recommendations of the Twenty-ninth Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), and approved the transmission to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the Committee's Report on the Implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action. The Council underlined particularly the recommendations related to the role of agricultural trade, food safety and food standards, water and aquaculture, and promotion of sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD). The attention of the Council was drawn to the importance of timely analysis by the Secretariat of trade-related issues impacting significantly on the food security of developing countries. The Council endorsed a proposal to focus future discussions under the item on assessment of the food security situation on strategic determinants of food security emanating from the experience with programmes and policies in selected countries. CFS Side Events should be utilized for the presentation of the country case studies. The need to pay special attention to international aspects while reviewing national cases was underlined.
34. In supporting the recommendations of the CFS, the Council stressed that particular emphasis should be placed inter alia on measures to allocate increased resources and promote agricultural and rural development in developing countries. In this regard, the Council expressed its appreciation to several donor countries for increasing their official development assistance to the agricultural and rural development sector.
35. The Council stressed the importance of FAO continuing to support capacity-building in developing countries and countries in transition in general and, more particularly, to enable their effective participation in negotiations on agricultural trade and in international sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards. A number of Members pointed out the importance of FAO's field programmes, particularly the Special Programme for Food Security, as being critical to the effective eradication of hunger.
36. The Council was reminded that the Anti-Hunger Programme (AHP) paper was a call to all stakeholders for concrete action to achieve the World Food Summit goal, while the International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH) was a means for expediting action to reduce food insecurity at the national and international levels. The Secretariat informed the Council that it was intending to present a final version of the Anti-Hunger Programme paper at the time of the next FAO Conference.
37. One Member drew attention 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.
38. The Council noted with satisfaction that the work of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on the Elaboration of a Set of Voluntary Guidelines for the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security was on track. The Council was informed that in order to allow more time for consultations with relevant stakeholders on the draft Voluntary Guidelines to be discussed at the Second Session of the IGWG, the IGWG Bureau had, in consultation with the Director-General, decided to postpone the Second Session by one month from the end of September 2003 to 27-29 October 2003. The Council emphasized the importance of multi-stakeholder participation. Some Members suggested that the Guidelines should give adequate attention to international dimensions. The Council noted the convening on 20-21 June 2003 of a Conference on "The Right to Food and the Cost of Hunger" by the Italy-FAO National Committee and the International Jacques Maritain Institute, with support from the Government of Italy and in association with FAO.
39. The Council considered a proposal to improve the Reporting Format of the WFS Follow-up on the basis of the request put forward by the United States of America and supported by Greece on behalf of the European Community and its fifteen Member States. Referring to the insufficient progress towards attaining the World Food Summit goal of reducing the number of the undernourished, the proposal recalled the recommendation of the Twenty-ninth Session of the CFS that Member Nations and the international community should take more concerted actions to accelerate the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, and highlighted the importance of an effective reporting and monitoring system towards that end.
40. Several Members pointed out that information provided in most national reports dealing with monitoring the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action by the CFS was too general, and that very little was learned as to why progress was slow in reducing the number of the undernourished in many developing countries. The Council underlined that better country reporting would help to understand why progress was slow, and would serve to identify concrete and effective actions which might accelerate the reduction of hunger.
41. The Council endorsed the proposal that the CFS Secretariat, in close collaboration with the Bureau, should:
42. The Council recommended that the draft revised format be developed in consultation with the CFS Bureau, and submitted to the forthcoming session of the FAO Council.
43. The Council discussed the proposal to convene a second joint FAO/WHO Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators (GF-2) in 2004 in a developing country, and to hold a FAO/WHO Regional Conference on Food Safety for Asia and the Pacific.
44. The Council was informed of the positive outcome of the preliminary meeting held with representatives of potential donor countries to seek their support for the organization of GF-2. The Council stressed the importance for Members to build effective national food safety systems for consumer protection and in relation to food trade, and recognized the potential role of FAO in providing assistance and guidance. The Council was also informed of the planned convening at FAO Headquarters, in July 2003, of a preparatory meeting with representatives of different FAO and WHO regions to agree on the substantive content of GF-2.
45. The Council endorsed the proposal to convene the Second Joint FAO/WHO Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators during the second half of 2004 on the main theme “Building Effective Food Safety Systems”. It welcomed with appreciation the offer of the Government of Thailand to host GF-2, and invited the donor community to provide financial support to cover the cost of the meeting and to contribute generously to facilitate the participation of the maximum number of countries. It stressed the need for the meeting to be held in all official languages of FAO and WHO.
46. Members emphasized the need to ensure that the Global Forum remain a forum for sharing information and experiences on food safety issues, with a focus on practical actions and capacity-building among Member Nations, and that it not duplicate, nor interfere with, the normative work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
47. The Council was also informed of the outcome of the preparatory meeting held in April 2003 with the concerned government representatives to discuss the organization of the FAO/WHO Regional Conference on Food Safety for Asia and the Pacific. It welcomed the offer of the Government of Malaysia to host the Conference in Kuala Lumpur, in May 2004. The Council endorsed the convening of the Conference and reiterated its request that it focus on practical actions to promote food safety in the region.
48. The Council commended the World Food Programme for its work in 2002, as reflected in the Annual Report of the WFP Executive Board on its activities. It noted in particular the Programme’s assistance to emergencies in Africa, including the personal contribution of the Executive Director, James T. Morris, in his role as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa.
49. The Council reaffirmed its support for WFP’s dual mandate to assist the hungry poor in both emergency situations and in the field of development. In this regard, a number of Members expressed concern over the decline in resources provided to WFP for development and called for a reversal of this trend, while others emphasized the crucial role of emergency activities.
50. The Council also expressed its support for WFP’s innovative efforts to increase the level of resources provided by non-traditional donors, particularly the private sector. Several Members requested WFP to maintain its universal character with regard to multilateral food aid.
51. Some Members emphasized the importance of WFP increasing its purchases from local beneficiary countries.
52. Some Members emphasized the importance of conducting a study on WFP’s investment policies, thereby increasing the share of local beneficiaries from emerging economies.
53. Some Members also requested that WFP continue identifying alternatives that would permit a more equitable geographical distribution among its staff members.
54. The Council requested that WFP increase its cooperation efforts with FAO in the field, particularly in the transition from relief to development activities.
55. The Council examined the document prepared by the Secretariat (CL 124/12) and endorsed the arrangements proposed.
56. The Council agreed to submit the Provisional Agenda, the tentative Timetable and the Arrangements outlined in the related Council document to the Conference for approval, and in particular recommended that:
57. With regard to the three Ministerial Round Tables, the Council agreed that the Secretariat contact the Regional Groups regarding logistical aspects and the themes to be discussed.
58. The Council decided to establish the deadline for the receipt of nominations for Independent Chairman of the Council at 12.00 hours on Friday, 5 September 2003.
59. 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:
Chairperson of Commission I:
Chairperson of Commission II:
Iran, Islamic Republic of
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 at its next Session in November 2003.
60. The Council noted that there was consensus on the following designations to the Credentials Committee for the Thirty-second Session of the FAO Conference: Armenia, Bangladesh, Canada, El Salvador, Greece, New Zealand, Uganda, Slovenia and Sudan.
61. In endorsing the 2003 Programme Evaluation Report for submission to the Conference, the Council expressed its appreciation for the document and the evaluation process. It noted that the areas of work evaluated had been selected on the advice of the Programme Committee, as was now the established practice, and that individual reports had been discussed in-depth by the Programme Committee during the current biennium (2002-03). The central role of the Programme Committee as the primary recipient of evaluations was re-emphasized. It was noted that the full evaluation reports were public documents, and that the Council had discussed the findings of each evaluation and the related management response when considering the reports of the Programme Committee.
62. The Council welcomed the systematic use of external peer review panels and appropriate inputs of external expertise. Information was provided on additional steps being taken for the enhancement of the evaluation system in the context of results-based budgeting and accountability for outcomes. It was noted that the independence of evaluation and location of the Evaluation Service would be further discussed at the forthcoming Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees and that several Members, while welcoming the considerable progress made, stated that they would like to see independence further enhanced.
63. The Council concurred with the Programme Committee in appreciating the management responses to each evaluation and the seriousness with which management was taking evaluation. In this context, the Council welcomed the institutionalization of feedback from evaluation into programming. Several Members endorsed the Director-General’s request that future evaluations should include budget-neutral recommendations for improvement, as well as those recommendations requiring additional resources. Other Members stressed that they would like to see the recommendations contained in the evaluations translated into increased resource allocations, and particularly mentioned animal health, the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) and Codex Alimentarius and food standards work. The Council also welcomed the introduction of systematic annual assessment and auto-evaluation by the responsible managers. It was noted that summaries of the results of auto-evaluation would be considered by the Governing Bodies through the Programme Committee.
64. In commenting on individual evaluations, Members stressed:
65. The Council endorsed the Programme Evaluation Report for transmission to the Conference.
66. The Council addressed the proposals in the Summary Programme of Work and Budget (SPWB) 2004-05, together with the comments of the Programme and Finance Committees. It appreciated the improved format of the SPWB document, and the further progress made in the application of results-based budgeting.
67. The Council noted that the outcome of the sessions of the Technical Committees held earlier in the year could not have been fully anticipated in the proposals, and that an additional information document had been prepared, summarizing the full potential financial impact of the recommendations made by these Committees.
68. The Council further observed that the SPWB contained two scenarios; one being the Director-General’s proposed Real Growth (RG) level of resources over the approved PWB 2002-03, and a second scenario at Zero Real Growth (ZRG). Without prejudice to the final budget level and recognizing that some Members already supported a Real Growth scenario and did not want to impose additional demands on the Secretariat, the Council at the same time acknowledged the need for the Secretariat to prepare an additional Zero Nominal Growth (ZNG) scenario in order for Members to fully understand the implications of possible budget decisions. In this context, some countries were interested in a below ZRG scenario, and one country in a below ZNG scenario.
69. The Council noted the estimate for cost increases in the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) for the next biennium, which also took account of the need to address the accrued liability for after-service medical care, an issue under active consideration by the Finance Committee. In this connection, the Council recognized the potential impact of the US$-Euro rate of exchange. While the current budget rate of € 1 = US$ 0.88 had been used in the document to facilitate comparison with the PWB 2002-03, there had been a substantial strengthening of the Euro since then. At the current rate of € 1 = US$ 1.16, this would result in an increase in the figure for cost increases of over US$ 70 million. The Council recognized that the impact of exchange rate fluctuations was also being considered under the proposal for split assessments, as discussed under another item on its agenda.
70. The Council agreed with the importance of the continued identification of efficiency savings, which was inherent in management responsibilities, irrespective of the prevailing budgetary climate.
71. The Council recognized the context of international commitments resulting from a number of recent international conferences and events, which had a clear relation to FAO’s mandate. In addition to the need to assist Members in meeting the key goal of reducing the number of hungry and malnourished people, as re-emphasized in the first Millennium Development Goal and at the World Food Summit: five years later, the Council recognized that the International Conference on Financing for Development (Monterrey, 18-22 March 2002), the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (Brussels, 14-20 May 2001), the World Summit for Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 26 August-4 September 2002) and the internationally agreed development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration, had underscored the importance of agricultural and rural development and FAO’s central role.
72. Members underlined specific priority areas, which they expected to be adequately funded, particularly water and the fight against desertification, the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD), work on genetic resources, fisheries, forestry and the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS). Members also concurred with the conclusions of the Programme Committee on regular budget funding for the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and Codex Alimentarius, emphasizing that the IPPC should be funded to the level of the biennial business plan and that FAO should provide its share of the additional resources required in order for the accepted recommendations of the Joint FAO/WHO evaluation of Codex to be implemented in full.
73. Many Members also emphasized the need to keep an adequate balance between normative and operational activities, recalling the real need for capacity-building, for example, in relation to enhancing their participation in Multilateral Trade Negotiations, as well as in many other areas. Some Members also underlined the need for FAO to set relative priorities among its programmes in order to function within a realistic level of budget, taking into account the economic and financial difficulties faced by many countries.
74. As regards the budget level, different views were expressed:
75. In light of the above range of opinions, the Council recognized that there was as yet no basis for consensus on the Budget Level for 2004-05. Therefore, it urged Members to pursue dialogue, with the assistance of the Secretariat, so as to reconcile diverging positions, in light of the full Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) proposals.
76. The Council welcomed the Secretariat proposal contained in the Report of the Joint Meeting of the Eighty-ninth Session of the Programme Committee and the Hundred and Second Session of the Finance Committee (Rome, 7 May 2003) to hold three Round Tables during the Thirty-Second Session of the Conference on 1-3 December 2003.
77. In noting the importance of convening ministerial-level Round Tables during the Conference, some Members expressed concern regarding their proposed timing from 17:30-19:30 hours, and felt that consideration should be given to scheduling the Round Tables at an earlier hour during the day to attract greater ministerial participation.
78. The Council highlighted the importance of informing the FAO Members of the topics selected for discussion during the Round Tables in sufficient time to have them adequately prepare for their Ministers’ participation. In this regard, some Members requested that there be consultations, possibly with regional groups, regarding the selection of the topics for the Round Tables.
79. The Council took note of the concerns of Member Nations regarding the scheduling of the proposed Round Tables during the forthcoming session of the Conference, and requested that the Secretariat explore alternative scheduling options for them. The Council requested the Secretariat to inform Member Nations as soon as possible of theme(s) for the Round Tables.
80. The Council noted that the Committees had engaged in a preliminary discussion regarding the “Independence and Location of the Evaluation Service”. It fully endorsed the importance given by the Committees to ensuring full impartiality of evaluation studies in reaching conclusions and recommendations, while recognizing the need to preserve the trust and confidence of programme managers in the evaluation function and ensure substantive feedback of evaluation recommendations into future programmes. The Council also emphasized the importance and value of a separate management response along with Management’s right to express contrary views.
81. The Council looked forward to further observations of the Committees on this important issue at the next Joint Meeting in September, based on another document to be prepared by the Secretariat, with possible options.
82. The Council also noted that the Joint Meeting had considered the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) Report on “Management and Administration in FAO” and had appreciated its quality and usefulness. The Council underlined that the report contained a number of pertinent recommendations on many issues including programme management, decentralization and human resources management. It welcomed, therefore, the decision of the Committees to return to this important JIU Report at their individual sessions of September 2003, with the benefit of detailed time-bound action plans for follow-up activities, and focusing on those JIU recommendations of direct interest to their respective Committees.
83. The Council recognized that, in addition to its usual consideration of the SPWB proposals for 2004-05, the Programme Committee had discussed two important evaluations: the Joint FAO/WHO Evaluation of Codex and other FAO and WHO Food Standards work, and the evaluation of FAO activities related to agricultural statistics in the context of FAOSTAT. Several progress reports on follow-up to past evaluations were also considered.
84. The Council shared the Committee's positive appreciation of the approach to these two evaluations, including recourse to external experts and the constructive management responses, and it concurred with the main findings and recommendations. The Council stressed in particular the importance of ensuring that these important areas of work be adequately funded, including critical components of capacity-building in countries.
85. The Council noted with interest the preliminary views of the Programme Committee on the complex issue of priority-setting in FAO’s context. It noted the Programme Committee’s explanation that priority-setting in an international institution like FAO was essentially a political process, and one which was rendered particularly delicate at times of budgetary stringency, as the latter imposed hard choices. Nonetheless, the Council pointed out an urgent need for setting out more focused priorities and requested a more active role for the Secretariat in assisting the Membership in setting priorities. It was agreed that there was the need to take into account the diversity of regional expectations, and to maintain an adequate balance between normative versus operational activities.
86. The Council discussed the means of building on and improving present arrangements. The Council supported the conclusions of the Programme Committee and looked forward to the results of further discussions on priority-setting in the Committee at its September 2003 Session. The greater involvement of the Membership should be fostered.
87. The Council noted the indicative rolling plan of future strategic and programme evaluations as considered by the Committee and the proposed assessment of progress under the Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Actions (PAIA).
88. Subject to the above considerations, the Council endorsed the Report of the Programme Committee. In joining this endorsement, many Members underscored the Committee’s conclusions in relation to the food chain approach, biosecurity and ethics, as well as on proposed funding for the fisheries and forestry programmes.
89. The Council considered the status of contributions and arrears of the Organization at 23 June 2003, which showed a significant shortfall in receipts compared to the same period in the previous two years. The Council noted that over 52 percent of Member Nations had made no payment towards their current assessments, and that the number of Member Nations with arrears of contributions was still very high.
90. While appreciating the often-difficult financial situations of some countries, emphasis was placed on the importance for all Member Nations, irrespective of their size, to honour 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.
91. The Council considered and endorsed the Annual Report on Budgetary Performance and Programme and Budgetary Transfers referred to in paragraphs 5 to 11 of the Report of the Hundred and Second Session of the Finance Committee.
92. While the Council recognized that the Finance Committee had not completed its deliberations on the proposal for a split assessment, many Members gave their preliminary views on the topic. Some Members noted that this split assessment would protect the Programme of Work by reducing FAO’s risk from exchange rate fluctuations, and that for most Members it would reduce the risk of wide variations in assessed contributions between biennia arising from this factor alone.
93. The Council confirmed the principle endorsed at its Hundred and Twenty-third Session that the Programme of Work should be protected to the maximum extent possible from the effects of fluctuating exchange rates. Many Members felt that, given the advent of the Euro, the approach of split assessment provided the most appropriate means of protection. This viewpoint was reflected in the expert advice received by the Finance Committee and endorsed by the majority of its Members who broadly shared the view that split assessment represented an effective way forward to protect the Programme of Work from exchange rate fluctuations.
94. Following queries on the Organization’s functional currency, the Council was informed that analysis of expenditures and other in-depth work carried out so far on split assessments had confirmed that the USD was the principal currency in the Organization’s flow of funds (both income and expenditures). The USD therefore remained the functional currency, as previously reported by external expert advisors in 2002.
95. One Member did not support split assessment as it felt that it was not yet clear whether the benefits would outweigh the costs. It felt that the proposal lacked the transparency which would clearly identify the impact of exchange rates on the budget, and thus oblige the Membership to make a decision on the exchange rate impact. This Member indicated that the proposal shifted the burden to Member Nations when it could instead be managed by existing mechanisms, such as forward purchase and the Special Reserve Account. A number of Members also sought information on the incremental administrative costs which would be incurred as a result of this approach.
96. The Council also welcomed the request by the Finance Committee to the Secretariat to prepare a further paper comparing methodologies and suggested that it also examine costs and benefits and generally clarify the impact of the proposal both on the Secretariat and on the Membership. It was suggested that the Council would need a comprehensive document to support its final deliberations on the matter in November.
97. The Council noted that in accordance with the decision of the Eighth Session of the Conference (1955), the FAO Scale of Contributions for the years 2004-05 had been derived directly from the United Nations Scale of Assessments, in this case the one in force for the year 2003, as established by General Assembly Resolution 55/5B adopted on 22 December 2000.
98. The Council accordingly recommended the following draft resolution for adoption by the Conference:
Having noted the recommendations of the Hundred and Twenty-fourth Session of the Council;
Confirming that as in the past, FAO should follow the United Nations Scale of Assessments subject to adaptation for the different Membership of FAO;
99. The Council noted that the Scale of Contributions as set out in Appendix D was provisional, and would be modified at the time of the forthcoming Session of the Conference in the event of new Members being admitted to the Organization.
100. The Council took note that one Member had reservations regarding the endorsement of the proposed Scale in view of the financial impact of the SPWB proposals for the 2004-05 biennium under the current proposed budget level.
101. The Council recalled that it had decided that the current formula for the determination of equitable geographical distribution should be reviewed. In the light of the different methodologies used in the UN System, the Council had requested the Secretariat to prepare options for a new FAO methodology and to seek the views of the Finance Committee prior to submission to the Council.
102. The Finance Committee had noted the options presented by the Secretariat. However, it had agreed that it could not make a recommendation at this stage. The Council noted that the Finance Committee had requested the Secretariat to study the matter further and provide more information and analysis on this matter, which had been made available to the Council in document CL 124/15-Add.1.
103. While some Members supported Option II, the Council noted that a further analysis of the options for the methodology would be conducted by the Finance Committee in September 2003 prior to submitting a recommendation to the Council at its next session.
104. The Council was also informed that the Organization’s effort to improve recruitment from non- and under-represented Member Nations was being addressed through its human resources reform process, upon which the Finance Committee received regular progress reports. Some Members noted that the severe under-representation of certain Member Nations had led to an unequal distribution of staff among the regions which required a review.
105. Some Members raised the issue of the recruitment of host country nationals as international staff in the regional offices.
106. Another Member stated that practices to promote adequate representation of under-represented countries would need to be implemented before looking at any proposal to change the system of equitable geographical distribution.
107. The Council noted that the Finance Committee was considering a proposal on Capital Budgeting as discussed in paragraphs 41 to 48 of the Report of the Hundred and Second Session of the Finance Committee, and looked forward to the outcome of the Finance Committee’s deliberations in this regard. It welcomed the proposal in principle and noted that further details would be provided by the Secretariat.
108. In relation to the request made by Argentina to reduce its contribution for 2003 in a similar manner to the decision adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2003, some Members expressed their solidarity and suggested that alternatives be explored regarding Argentina’s situation.
109. In accordance with Paragraphs B-1 and B-2 of the “Statement of Principles relating to the Granting of Observer Status to Nations”20, the Council agreed that the Russian Federation attend its Session as an observer.
110. The Council was also informed that since its Hundred and Twenty-third Session, the Director-General, having been so requested, had extended an invitation to the Russian Federation to attend as an observer, the Seventeenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) (Rome, 31 March-4 April 2003), the Twenty-fifth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) (Rome, 24-28 February 2003), and the Sixteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) (Rome, 10-14 March 2003).
111. The Council was furthermore informed that, on having been so requested, the Director-General had also extended an invitation to the Ukraine to attend as an observer the Twenty-fifth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) (Rome, 24-28 February 2003).
112. The Council was informed of the application for Membership received from the Government of Tuvalu.
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 the present Council Session, as well as regional and technical meetings of the Organization of interest to it.
114. The Council accepted the report of the Group of Friends of the Chair, document CL 124/INF/22, and agreed to transmit the proposed amendment to Article VII.1 of the Constitution that “the Director-General should be appointed for a term of six years, renewable only once for a further term of four years”, to the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters, at its Seventy-fifth Session, in October 2003, along with document CL 124/INF/22 before being submitted to the Thirty-second Session of the Conference for adoption. Meanwhile, in accordance with Article XX.4 of the Constitution, notice of the proposed amendment would be despatched to the Members of the Organization at least 120 days prior to the opening of the Thirty-second Session of the Conference.
115. The Council noted that the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF) was established by the Director-General, following the decision taken by the Council at its Forty-eighth Session in 1967, under Article VI, paragraph 2 of the FAO Constitution.
116. The Council further noted that, in 1992, at its Hundred and Second Session, it had approved amendments to the Terms of Reference for CECAF, which had been made necessary by a number of developments affecting the fisheries situation in West Africa, and authorized the Director-General to promulgate the amendments to the Terms of Reference.
117. The Council was informed that following the adoption by the Conference at its Twenty-ninth Session, in November 1997 of Resolution 13/97 entitled “Review of FAO Statutory Bodies”, CECAF initiated a process of review of its mandate, functions and structure and to that effect had requested the Director-General to convene a Technical Consultation to review the matter. The Technical Consultation (Lagos, 27-30 November 2001) had noted that further changes had taken place which should be reflected in the Terms of Reference of the Committee. In particular, the Technical Consultation was of the view that CECAF should be entrusted with wider scientific and technical functions, but these should concentrate on a few key priority areas with a regional or sub-regional focus and that they should be duly reflected in the revised Terms of Reference. At its Sixteenth Session (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, 22-24 October 2002), CECAF endorsed the revised Terms of Reference and recommended that they be submitted to the Council for approval.
118. The Council approved the revised Terms of Reference of the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF) as given in Appendix E to this Report.
119. The Council decided to authorize the Director-General to promulgate the revised Terms of Reference of the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF).
120. The Council noted that the matter had been placed on its agenda at the request of one Member of the Council acting on behalf of the Asia Group. The Council noted that at its Hundred and Twenty-second session it had agreed, on the basis of a proposal from the Asia Group, to discuss at its next session the existing formula for the representation of regions on the Programme and Finance Committees. The Council further noted that, at its Hundred and Twenty-third Session, held in October and November 2002, the Asia Group had 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. On that occasion, the Council agreed that Regional Groups should consult and report thereon to the session of the Council in June 2003. The Council also noted that the Asia Group had discussed the issue and defined some preliminary options for discussion, including a proposal to establish a Working Group to elaborate a better option, taking into account concerns of all regions.
121. The Council noted that there was a wide range of different opinions on the question of regional representation within the Programme and Finance Committees and that, given its complexity, as well as its broader implications for other Statutory Bodies of FAO, it was not possible to reach a consensus at this time.
122. The Council noted that the Asia Regional Group could continue to hold consultations with other regional groups, if needed, to further advance the issue.
123. While considering the Revised Calendar of FAO Governing Bodies and Other Main Sessions 2003-04 (Appendix F), which was submitted to the Council for information, the Council took note that its Hundred and Twenty-fifth Session would be held in Rome from 26 to 28 November 2003.
124. The Council endorsed the nomination of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) and recommended that the Medal be presented to the representative of the non-governmental organization by the Director-General as part of the proceedings of the Thirty-second Session of the Conference.
125. The Council requested that improvements be introduced regarding the Margarita Lizárraga Medal, especially with regard to the establishment of deadlines for the presentation of candidacies, the composition of the Selection Committee, and its broader dissemination.
126. The Secretariat advised that Mexico had adhered to its pledge to contribute extra-budgetary resources to improve the awarding of the Medal. It reiterated the appeal made to the international community to also contribute extra-budgetary resources towards this end.
127. The Council took note of the proposal made by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC), calling for an increased involvement of Member Nations in the preparation of the agenda of the Committees and Governing Bodies of FAO, in conformity with the General Rules of the Organization, which foresaw consultations between the Secretariat and the Chairpersons of each Body. The Chairpersons, for their part, would receive feedback from the regional groups.
128. In accordance with Article 6(c) of the Regulations of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the Council - on behalf of the Conference - confirmed the appointment of Mr Bruce Berton, First Secretary and Alternate Permanent Representative of the United States of America to FAO, as member to the Staff Pension Committee for the period ending 31 December 2004, to replace and complete the term of office of Mr Chris Richard, First Secretary and Alternate Permanent Representative of the United States of America to FAO, appointed at the Conference at its Thirty-first Session for the period 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004.
1 CL 124/1-Rev.1; CL 124/1-Add.1; CL 124/INF/1; CL 124/INF/6; CL 124/INF/12; CL 124/INF/21; CL 124/PV/1; CL 124/PV/9.
2 CL 124/INF/9; CL 124/PV/1; CL 124/PV/9.
3 CL 124/7; CL 124/7-Add.1; CL 124/PV/8; CL 124/PV/9.
4 CL 124/6; CL 124/PV/7; CL 124/PV/9.
5 CL 124/8; CL 124/PV/2; CL 124/PV/9.
6 CL 124/9; CL 124/PV/7; CL 124/PV/9.
7 CL 124/10; CL 124/LIM/2; CL 124/PV/1; CL 124/PV/2; CL 124/PV/9.
8 CL/124/INF/12; CL 124/PV/1; CL 124/PV/2; CL 124/PV/9.
9 CL 124/17; CL 124/PV/6; CL 124/PV/9.
10 CL 124/11; CL 124/PV/8; CL 124/PV/9.
11 CL 124/12; CL 124/PV/7; CL 124/PV/9.
12 C 2003/4; CL 124/PV/5; CL 124/PV/6; CL 124/PV/9.
13 CL 124/3; CL 124/3-Corr.1; CL 124/INF/20; CL 124/PV/5; CL 124/PV/6; CL 124/PV/9.
14 CL 124/4; CL 124/PV/3; CL 124/PV/9.
15 CL 124/14; CL 124/PV/3; CL 124/PV/9.
16 CL 124/4: CL 124/16; CL 124/20; CL 124/PV/3; CL 124/PV/4; CL 124/PV/9.
17 CL 124/LIM/1; CL 124/PV/3; CL 124/PV/4; CL 124/PV/9.
18 CL 124/15; CL 124/15-Add.1; CL 124/PV/3; CL 124/PV/9.
19 CL 124/PV/1; CL 124/PV/9.
20 See FAO Basic Texts, Volume II, Section L (Appendix).
21 CL 124/18; CL 124/PV/8; CL 124/PV/9.
22 CL 124/13; CL 124/INF/22; CL 124/PV/8; CL 124/PV/9.
23 CL 124/19; CL 124/PV/8; CL 124/PV/9.
24 CL 124/INF/21; CL 124/INF/21-Sup.1; CL 124/PV/8; CL 124/PV/9.
25 CL 124/INF/8; CL 124/PV/8; CL 124/PV/9.
26 CL 124/INF/13; CL 124/PV/8; CL 124/PV/9.
27 CL 124/2-Rev.1; CL 124/PV/8; CL 124/PV/9.