1. Article VI (paragraphs 2 and 4) of the FAO Constitution authorizes the establishment of committees, working parties and panels composed of selected individuals appointed in their personal capacity because of their special competence in technical matters.
2. In 1961 the Conference asked the Council to undertake a study of such expert committees and panels, pointing out that “while this was a useful method of working, care should be taken to ensure that such groups or panels should only be set up for specific purposes and only for the length of time required to accomplish the main purpose, so that they may not develop into permanent bodies.” (Report of Eleventh Session, page 24.)
3. The Council referred this study to the Program Committee.
4. After a first discussion of the subject in 1962 the Program Committee asked the Director-General to provide a list of existing committees and panels composed of individual experts, with detailed information on their terms of reference, composition, methods of working etc. Such information was embodied in a comprehensive review prepared by the Director-General and circulated on 7 May 1963 (CL 40/15).
5. At its Seventh Session in May 1963 the Program Committee discussed the subject and reached conclusions and recommendations which were set out in its report to the Council (CL 40/2). The Program Committee, also recommended that, if the Council should approve its conclusions, the Director-General should:
give effect to the Program Committee's suggestions regarding terminology;
propose draft amendments to the General Rules of the Organization with a view to clearing up any possible ambiguity;
review the internal machinery for supervising the establishment and methods of consultation of expert committees and panels, and strengthen such machinery wherever possible; and
explore the possibility of modifying the presentation of the annual directory of Conference, Council, commissions, committees etc. not only to include therein all bodies composed of individual experts, but also to reclassify all the material on a divisional basis.
6. In June 1963 the Council approved the conclusions and recommendations of the Program Committee, and particularly supported the recommendation that the number of meetings of experts should be kept to an absolute minimum consistent with efficiency and that experts should be consulted by correspondence to an increasing degree. The Council also requested the Director-General to carry out the work which the Program Committee had asked for and, noting that this work could be looked at by the Program Committee in 1964, it decided against reporting preliminary findings only to the 1963 Conference Session which already had a heavy agenda. However, it felt that the Technical Committees of the Conference could usefully be consulted at that time in order that they might express whatever views they might have on the value of advisory committees and panels of experts. (Report of the Fortieth Session of the Council.)
7. At its Eighth Session held in May/June 1964, the Program Committee had before it:
a report by the Director-General on the action taken by him to give effect to the recommendations of the Program Committee regarding terminology, amendments to the General Rules of the Organization and internal supervisory machinery (PC 8/9);
the written comments of four Technical Committees of the Conference (PC 8/9, appendix); and
the advance proofs of the 1964 edition of the Directory of Conference, Council, Standing Committees and Bodies established under Articles VI and XIV of the Constitution.
8. The Program Committee approved the action and proposals of the Director-General, noted that it had thus completed the work which the Council had assigned to it and requested the Director-General to submit to the Council a comprehensive document setting forth all that had been done so far to give effect to the request of the Eleventh Session of the Conference.
9. The present document has been prepared accordingly. It sets out hereafter: (a) the conclusions and recommendations of the Program Committee, as approved by the Council in June 1963, (b) supporting proposals submitted by the Director-General as approved by the Program Committee in May/June 1964 and (c) the comments of the Technical Committees of the Conference.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE PROGRAM COMMITTEE 1
10. [The Program Committee] noted the clear distinction between the provision in Article VI.2 of the Constitution for the establishment of committees and working parties by the Conference, Council or the Director-General with the authority of the Conference and Council (whether of selected Member Nations and Associate Members or of individuals appointed in their personal capacity) and the provision in Article VI.4 authorizing the Director-General to establish panels of experts. While the Constitution is thus quite specific in determining what advisory machinery can be set up, some confusion has in the past arisen through misuse or misinterpretation of the constitutionally approved terminology and through the use of other terms (e.g. group of experts).
11. Pending the clarification… the Committee recommends that only the nomenclature used in Article VI, paras. 2 and 4, be adopted as appropriate, and in the following manner:
|(a)||Committee applies to committees of selected Member Nations or Associate Members set up to study and report on matters pertaining to the purpose of the Organization.|
|(b)||Working Party applies to working parties of Selected Member Nations or Associate Members set up to study and report on matters pertaining to the purpose of the Organization.|
|(c)||Panel of Experts is a list of experts selected in their individual capacity, on the basis of their expert knowledge, to give advice on specific subjects by correspondence and/or by participation in meetings of some or all of them.|
|(d)||Committee of Experts|
these terms apply to groups of experts selected in their personal capacity.
|(e)||Working Party of Experts|
Whether or not their members are drawn from a panel of experts, they can only be established on the authority of the Conference or the Council. They are governed by Rule XXXI.3 of the General Rules of the Organization, which limits the duration of the term of office of their members.
1 Extract from document CL 40/2.
12. In making this recommendation, the Committee nevertheless recognizes that some variation may be inevitable to overcome constitutional difficulties of other organizations in cases where joint bodies are established.
13. The clarification along these lines could usefully be included in the General Rules of the Organization.
14. The Committee also considered that membership of panels, like that of Committees of Experts, should be subject to Rule XXXI.3. However, from a practical viewpoint it would be advisable to extend the limitation of the term of office from 3 years to 4 years, applicable to committees, working parties and panels of experts provided for in Article VI.2 and 4, and be renewable.
15. The Committee consequently recommends that the Director-General be requested to submit appropriate draft amendments to the General Rules of the Organization.
16. The Committee further noted that while the governments are responsible for the cost of attendance of their representatives at meetings of bodies composed of Nations, except for the special arrangement which applies for the Council, it was the Organization which pays travel and per diem of experts attending meetings of experts selected in an individual capacity. This distinction should also be suitably included in the General Rules of the Organization.
17. The Program Committee considered that the system of panels and expert committees, if well managed, has the advantage of keeping the divisions supplied with the latest scientific and technical information on which the efficiency of the Organization's work depends. In this connection the Committee, as requested by the Joint Session, considered the cost of these panels in relation to their value to the Organization. Although the costs were all shown against the travel code, the system of panels is to be regarded as an alternative way of carrying out the Organization's work. It agreed that in appropriate circumstances they may be the most effective and economical way of doing this. The Committee, was, however, concerned at the possible excessive multiplication of panels and recommended that:
the number of panels should be kept to the minimum consistent with the efficient fulfilment of the Organization's functions;
they should work as much as possible on a basis of individual consultation by correspondence;
when practicable meetings of panel members should be convened on the occasion of other related meetings; and
the number of panel members invited to meetings should be kept to the essential minimum.
18. The Program Committee also considers that wherever feasible, and in particular when there are program and policy implications, use should be made of intergovernmental meetings instead of expert committees or panels. In addition, the Organization should extend as far as feasible the practice of consulting specialized nongovernmental organizations for information regarding the latest scientific and technical progress.
19. The Program committee recommends that the Director-General should review the internal machinery for supervising arrangements for meetings with particular reference to the meetings of expert committees, working parties and panels and strengthen it, where necessary, and that he report to the committee at its Eighth Session.
PROPOSALS FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL TO GIVE EFFECT TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE PROGRAM COMMITTEE 2
20. The Manual Section on nomenclature has been amended to give effect to the recommendations of the Program Committee as set out in paragraph 209 of CL 40/2.
21. Henceforth, the following terminology will be used to describe the various organs to which reference is made in paragraphs 2, 4 and 5 of Article VI of the Constitution:
A committee or working party of selected Member Nations (and Associate Members) will be designated “Committee on…” 3 or “Working Party on…”3
A committee or working party composed of selected individuals serving in a personal capacity will be designated “Committee of Experts on…” 3 or “Working Party of Experts on…” 3
Thus the words “of experts” will serve to distinguish committees and working parties composed of individuals from those in which the members are Nations. Adjectives such as “advisory” will normally not be used (except, of course, “regional” or “joint” where necessary).
A panel of experts will be a list of individuals selected in their personal capacity on the basis of their expert knowledge, to give advice on specific technical subjects. The normal method of consultation will be by correspondence. However, selected members or panels may on occasion be invited to participate in ad hoc meetings when circumstances so justify. Here again, the terminology will be “panel of experts on…” and “meeting of experts on…”
Attention is drawn to the fact that the word “meeting” does not appear in the Constitution nor in the General Rules to designate a gathering. In FAO, as in other UN Agencies, the word “meeting” was at one time intended to apply to a morning or afternoon sitting (in French: séance). However, with the years it has come to be used extensively, profitably and without ambiguity, to describe an ad hoc gathering for which the word “conference” would be too ambitious (in French: réunion). While it does not appear in Article VI of the Constitution, its use in this way has been implicitly approved in paragraph 3 on page 4 of Basic Texts, Volume II, which deals with “Regional and Technical Meetings” in relation to observer status. The Director-General therefore proposes that such ad hoc gatherings be called “Meeting of Government Representatives on…” 3 or “Meeting of Experts on…”3 as the case may be.
In 1963, the Program Committee noted that special problems do arise when bodies are set up or meetings convened jointly with another UN agency. It agreed and the Director-General has noted, that in such cases, the FAO nomenclature may be set aside if unacceptable to another agency for constitutional reasons.
2 Extract from document PC 8/9
3 The words to be inserted after “on” will indicate the field of competence of the organ thus established.
Draft Amendments to the General Rules
22. Few such amendments are necessary.
23. Attention has already been drawn to the fact that one of the terms used above, namely “meeting” does not appear in Article VI of the Constitution. The same is true of the word “expert.” This, however, does not create a real problem because the purpose of Article VI has been to lay down broad principles of a legislative character, not to develop specific terminology and definitions. Thus, no amendment to Article VI appears necessary.
24. Nor is it deemed desirable to insert an additional provision in the General Rules merely to reflect the matters of terminology set out above. If the foregoing suggestions are approved, the Staff Manual will be further amended to give effect to the decision so taken.
25. However, the General Rules should, in the Director-General's opinion:
contain the definition of panels of experts reproduced in 21 (c) above,
be amended so that the maximum length of the term of office of experts serving on committees and working parties becomes 4 instead of 3 years and so that the same limit is applied to members of panels (as recommended by the Program Committee in paragraph 211 of CL 40/2),
contain a provision concerning the cost of attendance of experts appointed in an individual capacity which, unless otherwise specifically provided, is paid by the Organization (as recommended by the Program Committee in paragraph 213 of CL 40/2) 4.
Thus, the Director-General suggests that Rule XXXI be redrafted as follows: (Additions underlined, Deletions [ ]).
4 This matter is already covered by a provision in the “Principles and Procedures which should govern Conventions and Agreements concluded under Articles XIV and XV of the Constitution, and Commissions and Committees established under Article VI of the Constitution” adopted by the Conference in 1957 (see Basic texts, Vol. II, paragraph 32 (ii) on page 46). Because of its importance, however, it should be the subject of an additional paragraph in Rule XXXI of the General Rules.
Redraft of Rule XXXI
COMMISSIONS, COMMITTEES AND WORKING PARTIES
Paragraphs 1 and 2 are unaltered
Insert new paragraph 3 as follows:
“A panel of experts, as referred to in Article VI, paragraph 4 of the Constitution, is a list of experts selected in their individual capacity on the basis of their expert knowledge to give advice on specific subjects by correspondence, or by participation in conferences or consultations when it is so decided by the Director-General.”
Renumber paragraph 3 to paragraph 4 and amend as follows:
“The terms of office of members of committees of experts or working parties of experts appointed in their personal capacity in conformity with [the provisions of] paragraph 2 of Article VI of the Constitution shall not exceed [three] four years but shall be renewable. The terms of office of members of panels of experts shall likewise be for a maximum of four years but shall be renewable. Appointments to fill vacancies [in membership] in committees of experts, working parties of experts and panels of experts [due to the expiration of terms of office or to death or retirement of a member] shall be effected in the same manner as the original appointments. When a vacancy occurs because of death or retirement, the term of office of the new appointee shall be for the remainder of the term of office of the member that is being replaced.”
Add new paragraph 5, as follows:
“Unless other specific arrangements are made, the expenses incurred by individuals invited in a personal capacity to attend sessions of committees of experts or working parties of experts or conferences or consultations of experts, shall be defrayed by the Organization in accordance with its travel regulations.”
The text of Rule XXXI would thus read as follows after amendment: (Additions underlined, Deletions [ ]).
COMMISSIONS, COMMITTEES AND WORKING PARTIES
1. Commissions, committees and working parties, set up in pursuance of Article VI of the Constitution may establish subcommissions, subcommittees or subsidiary working parties either to perform a substantive part of their functions or to carry out a specific task. Associate Members may participate in the deliberations of such subcommissions, subcommittees or subsidiary working parties but shall not hold office nor have the right to vote.
2. The first paragraph of this Rule shall be interpreted in conformity with the provisions of Rule XXIV, paragraph 1 (e) (v) of these Rules.
3. A panel of experts, as referred to in Article VI, paragraph 4 of the Constitution, is a list of experts selected in their individual capacity on the basis of their expert knowledge to give advice on specific subjects by correspondence, or by participation in conferences or consultations when it is so decided by the Director-General.
4. The terms of office of members of committees of experts or working parties of experts appointed in their personal capacity in conformity with [the provisions of] paragraph 2 of Article VI of the Constitution shall not exceed [three] four years but shall be renewable. The terms of office of members of panels of experts shall likewise be for a maximum of four years but shall be renewable. Appointments to fill vacancies [in membership] in committees of experts, working parties of experts and panels of experts [due to the expiration of terms of office or to death or retirement of a member] shall be effected in the same manner as the original appointments. When a vacancy occurs because of death or retirement, the term of office of the new appointee shall be for the remainder of the term of office of the member that is being replaced.
5. Unless other specific arrangements are made, the expenses incurred by individuals invited in a personal capacity to attend sessions of committees of experts or working parties of experts, or conferences or consultations of experts, shall be defrayed by the Organization in accordance with its travel regulations.
26. Internal supervisory machinery
After reviewing at its 1963 Session the whole subject of technical advisory bodies and meetings of experts, the Program Committee recognized that the Organization was in need of them for the purpose of obtaining specialized and technical guidance. But it was anxious to keep expenditure to a minimum and more generally to ensure that this kind of activity should develop in an orderly fashion with due regard to existing rules and procedures.
27. Therefore, the Director-General has understood the Program Committee's request to mean that internal supervisory machinery should be reviewed and tightened up in order that:
the creation of new committees, working parties and panels composed of experts appointed in a personal capacity be kept to the minimum compatible with the needs of the Organization;
the lists of such bodies and of their members be reviewed at appropriate intervals in the light of their value to the Organization;
actual conferences of experts be kept to a minimum consistent with the efficiency of the Organization's work;
rules, procedures and nomenclature be strictly observed.
28. In the circumstances the Director-General has decided as follows:
When a Division wishes either to set up a committee, working party or panel of experts, or to arrange a conference or consultation of members of a panel, or to call a session of a committee or working party of experts (additional to those already approved by the competent authority), the Division will have to refer the matter to the Assistant Director-General of its Department who in turn will refer it to the Assistant Director-General of the Program and Budgetary Service.
The implications of the proposal will be analyzed in the light of existing rules and of the Program Committee's conclusions and recommendations (pending the final directives of the Conference) particularly regarding the need for the new body or meeting, its purpose, proposed membership, designation etc. In the case of a panel, the following matters will also be considered: methods of consulting its members, the use of ad hoc conferences and possible alternative arrangements for obtaining the advice of experts.
The Assistant Director-General, Program and Budgetary Service, will transmit his recommendations together with any comments of the subject matter to the Director-General for his final approval or decision.
A similar procedure will, of course, be in addition to normal Budget control.
29. In this way, the Director-General believes that all the technical, structural and financial implications of such arrangements for obtaining the advice of experts will be scrutinized in the best interests of the Organization.
COMMENTS OF THE CONFERENCE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
30. The Committee reviewed the question of Advisory Groups, Expert Panels and similar bodies as requested by the Council. Reference was made to the views expressed on this subject by the Eleventh Session of the Conference, by the Program Committee (CL 40/2) and by the Council (CL 40/15). The Committee noted also that the Council felt that the question was extremely important and justified detailed study by the Technical Committees of the Conference whose views on the technical aspects of the matter would provide guidance for the future.
31. The Committee stressed the importance of advisory groups, panels and similar bodies as valuable instruments in helping the Organization to attain its objectives. It considered that greater use should be made of the services of experts from developing countries who could provide reliable information on subjects of local interest. The Committee stressed that the panel approach should be confined to subject matter of sufficient importance to justify it. The importance and value of continuing contacts and consultation with research institutes and similar bodies the world over were emphasized.
32. The Committee wished to highlight the fact that expert panels deal solely with programing which are the responsibilities of commissions and committees composed of government representatives. The panel system enables FAO to take advantage of the services of nongovernmental specialists (subject to government approval) who for the most part are of international repute. The differences in the financing of the operations of intergovernmental committees and of panels of experts were considered and it was appreciated that, where governments nominate representatives, they are responsible for the costs, and that, where FAO invites individuals to attend meetings or panels, the cost is borne by the Organization. In this connection, it was indicated that it is often possible to arrange meetings of panel members at times when they are attending other meetings in their field of competence: e.g., the meeting of the FAO Panel of Blood Group Scientists held in the Hague from 9 to 11 September 1963, almost all members of which were present at the International Genetics Congress which took place in the same city from 2 to 10 September, with the result that the cost to FAO was greatly reduced.
33. While endorsing the use of the experts of the panels, the Committee stressed the need for contacts between such experts, FAO, appropriate institutions and other bodies, for further information, and the need to inform scientific bodies and organizations well in advance of a meeting of members of a panel, so that they can be given an opportunity to contribute through the Divisions of FAO to such meetings.
34. The Committee referred to paragraphs 3 to 7 inclusive of Part I (Animal Production and Health) of its report, and considered that the statements contained therein applied to the expert panels and committees of all the Technical Divisions. It was noted that the Council would not be reporting on this subject to the Conference at its Twelfth Session and that Member Nations wishing to raise additional points could submit their comments to the Director-General, who would then report through the Council to the Program Committee.
PARAGRAPHS 3 TO 7 OF PART I OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE'S REPORT (SEE ABOVE)
35. The Committee carried out a detailed examination of the operations of expert panels and committees. It was appreciated that panels provide a satisfactory and economical means of making a high level of technical advice and support in many different fields available to the Organization for the performance of its widely varied functions, and thus reduce the need for specialist staff members. The Committee approved the method of utilizing such panels, noting particularly that the bulk of their work lay in the regular exchange of information by correspondence. Meetings should take place at intervals determined by the value or urgency of the subject matter. It was understood that, while there was no restriction to the number of members on an expert panel, they would be carefully selected and only a limited number of appropriate specialists would usually be invited to any particular meeting. As the emphasis on individual subjects altered, additional specialists could be appointed, since continuing advice must be made available to member countries.
36. The Committee appreciated the fact that the value of such expert panels, whether operated by FAO alone or jointly with other international organizations such as the World Health Organization and l'Office international des epizooties, lay primarily in the provision to member countries of topical information on matters which FAO considered to be of outstanding importance to the field programs and interests of the Organization. In addition, the opportunity was created for the co-ordination of research, the avoidance of duplication of effort and the exchange of information between scientific specialists. It was further noted that some of the 16 panels operated by the Animal Production and Health Division covered broad fields, for example the zoonoses, while others were concerned with narrow specialized items, for example brucellosis; and it was stressed that the subject matter of any proposed new panels should invariably be closely examined to ensure that it justified the panel approach. The avoidance of undue expenditures in this field must be constantly observed. There was no evidence of misplaced enthusiasm in the establishment of the Division's panels, and it was not considered that the 16 set up during the last 14 years was excessive. It was noted that, in connection with its Regular Program duties, and particularly in relation to panel operations, the Headquarters staff maintained constant contacts with international research institutes throughout the world, receiving their reports and publications regularly and transmitting them to the panels.
37. The Committee was of the opinion, in line with Program Committee suggestions, that some clarification was needed in the international usage of such terms as expert committee, expert panel, advisory group, etc., in order to avoid the understandable confusion which occasionally arose.
38. Various alternatives, including the possibility of intergovernmental meetings, were considered but the consensus of opinion was that the panel system provided the most efficient and economical means of achieving the desired end of rapid dissemination of current information and avoidance of duplication of effort. This was of particular importance to the emerging countries in stimulating progressive development in the general fields of animal production and animal health.
39. The view was expressed that, where consultant groups from panels visited countries on request to provide advice, for example in the field of veterinary education, they should always be assisted and accompanied by an expert thoroughly familiar with the conditions of the country or countries visited. Several delegates expressed the opinion that this should apply to all visiting missions however constituted, since this approach would ensure that maximum use was made of the knowledge and experience of the visiting experts, who would thus be provided with the necessary background knowledge with a minimum of difficulty.
COMMENTS OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES
40. The work of the three fishery commissions established under Article VI.1 of the Constitution was commended and should continue as already constitutionally approved: these are the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission, the Regional Fisheries Commission for Western Africa and the Regional Fisheries Advisory Commission for the Southwest Atlantic.
41. The Committee noted the use being made of the Panel of Fisheries Experts (No. 24) for convening from time to time, as aprovided in the Budget, small working groups to advise the Director-General on specific subjects. Selected members of the Panel are consulted by correspondence quite regularly and membership by fishery experts of committees mentioned below is drawn from this Panel. The Committee recommended the continuation of the FAO Panel of Fisheries Experts, and urged that it be used more extensively. The Committee also requested the Director-General to appoint members covering disciplines not at present represented.
42. The Advisory Committee on Marine Resources Research (No. 25) had proved an indispensable tool for promoting co-operative action between FAO and other international, governmental and nongovernmental organizations and the Committee endorsed its continuation and approved budgetary cover for two sessions in 1964/65.
43. The Committee endorsed the continuation of the Expert Panel for the Facilitation of Tuna Research (No. 26), whose membership is drawn from the FAO Panel of Fisheries Experts; it approved budgetary cover for one meeting in 1964/65.
44. The Committee took note of the work of the FAO/ICES/ICNAF Continuing Working Party on Fisheries Statistics in the North Atlantic Area, endorsed its continued existence, and approved budgetary cover for secretariat attendance at one meeting in 1964/65.
45. The Committee recommended participation by the Fisheries Division in the FAO Panel of Experts on Fish Protein Concentrates for Human Consumption (No. 23) in which nutrition experts and representatives of other international organizations also participate and approved budgetary cover for one meeting in 1964/65.
46. The Committee noted that the Panel of Experts on Fisheries Products Technology (No. 22) had not met since 1955 and recommended that it be abolished. The Committee requested the Director-General to make use of the FAO Panel of Fisheries Experts (No. 24) for advice on ad hoc problems on fishery products technology as they arose, and to convene meetings of selected members, as necessary.
COMMENTS OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON ECONOMICS
47. The Committee examined the proposals for the establishment of expert panels included in the Division's Program of Work 1964/65. These were in: agricultural education and training; research and development organization; land tenure systems; and rural sociology. It was recognized that it was essential to the work of the Organization that access be available to the most complete and up-to-date competence and information and that the expert panel was an effective means to this end. It was stated that, as far as could be foreseen, the panels would be formed and consulted by correspondence only during the 1964/65 biennium.
48. The Committee considered the subject matters to be covered by the proposed expert panels and it was felt that the Organization would benefit from access to this source of competence and knowledge.
As indicated in its introductory part, the present document presents the results of the study undertaken by the Program Committee under Council supervision.
These results will eventually have to be reported to the Conference, which requested that the study be made.
The action to be taken by the Conference will consist in approving, rejecting or amending such conclusiones and recommendations of the Program Committee as are endorsed by the Council.
Attention is drawn to the fact that amendments to Rule XXXI of the General Rules of the Organization are submitted for approval. Under Rule XXXVIII.2 such amendments require a two-thirds majority of the vote cast at a plenary meeting of the Conference.