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II. Plans for the Sixth Session of the Conference-November 1951

The Council gave detailed consideration to the problem of planning the Sixth Session of the Conference, taking into account the views expressed by the delegates who attended the Fifth Session. Such views were invited in a letter from the Secretary-General, dated 21 September 1949, which elicited detailed replies from thirteen governments.

The comments received (which have been summarized in document CL12/2) laid particular stress on the following:

  1. The need to place more emphasis on the specific issues which the Conference itself must decide;

  2. The desirability of making more thorough preparations for consideration of these specific issues;

  3. The need to improve co-ordination, particularly between Commissions II and III with respect to the budget.

Now that the Conference will hold biennial instead of annual sessions, the above points assume even greater importance. The Council, therefore, endeavored to define as clearly as possible the scope and program of the forthcoming session, so that useful debates may take place, on a limited number of specific issues, leading to definite conclusions, not only for the benefit of future program planning but also for the guidance of national governments. In doing so, it was not the Council's intention to limit in any way the freedom of the Conference as to its agenda and procedures but to submit suggestions in advance to member governments so that more thorough preparation may be made during the intervening months.

The Council, in addition, submitted suggestions for improving co-ordination.

Agenda of the Session

The Provisional Agenda, which the Council drew up after consultation with the Director-General (in accordance with Rule II of the Rules of Procedure), appears as Appendix D (page 50).

The Council recommends that the customary three commissions be set up to deal with the substantive chapters of the Agenda:

Commission I, to conduct the annual review of the World Food and Agriculture Situation and to analyze the broad issues related to agricultural economic development and to production, consumption and trade in the fields of food and agriculture;

Commission II, to examine the technical activities of FAO and formulate its views regarding the programs and methods of the Organization, e. g. to increase food production, to raise standards of nutrition, and to collect and disseminate all relevant information, statistical and otherwise;

Commission III, to consider such legal, administrative, and financial matters as may be referred to it.

Suggested Program for Commission I

As the organ of the Conference entrusted with the review of the state of food and agriculture, and of the program of member nations (Rule II of the Rules of Procedure), Commission I must acquaint itself with the existing state of agricultural production and trade, with prevailing levels of nutrition, and with trends and prospective changes in production, trade, and consumption both on a regional and on a world-wide basis. Its responsibility includes a review of governmental programs, objectives, and measures for the expansion of agricultural output and the improvement of its utilization, a consideration of the principal obstacles to the attainment of these ends, and suggestions for action which, in the judgment of the Commission, could best help to overcome these obstacles.

Undoubtedly, the forthcoming session can be provided with better documentary material than has been the case in the past. Such preparations will be all the more useful if they can be centered, like the discussions, on the kinds of specific questions to which Commission I might devote attention.

Present thinking in the world has been increasingly focused on the need to raise levels of production, particularly in and for the underdeveloped areas, in order to reach higher levels of employment and higher living standards as a prerequisite to an expanding world economy. Detailed investigations have been carried out by various agencies of the United Nations, with a view to determining the actual problems to be solved, and the measures to be adopted. The results of these investigations are available and can be analyzed for the purposes of the Conference. It is suggested therefore that agricultural production and economic development should be the central theme of the discussions of Commission I. This would mean that the Commission, after looking into prevailing world conditions regarding agricultural production and food consumption, would examine the information available on production and consumption trends, appraise the prospective effects of these trends, and formulate its conclusions regarding appropriate future action for agricultural and economic development.

While recognizing that contingencies may arise between now and November which might render it necessary to change any too rigid program for Commission I, it is suggested that the Commission's discussions should cover the following:

1. Review of World Situation in Respect of Food and Agriculture

There is a considerable body of opinion that Commission I might spend less time than before in considering the current situation. Nevertheless, since this review provides the basis on which the Commission's whole work has to be founded, the Annual Report on The Current Situation and the Prospects for Food and Agriculture must continue to be used as the basic document, supplemented by a concise factual summary, to be brought up to date and approved by the Council, as in 1949. The Commission should discuss the summary in particular with a view to recording opinions expressed in the Commission, but should not devote time to an attempt to agree on a text either of the basic document or of the summary.6

2. Appraisal of Existing Trends in Agricultural Production and Consumption

After acquainting itself with the salient features of the current situation, Commission I would move on to an assessment of the present and prospective development of agriculture as shown by governmental programs and objectives. Most governments have submitted information to FAO along those lines. To assist the Commission, these can be summarized by the secretariat on a regional as well as a world-wide basis. The Commission would also utilize the reports of the Regional Meetings, as well as the Second World Food Survey which, it is hoped, will be available before the Conference.

It is suggested that the discussion of Commission I should here be directed particularly towards the following question: Does the examination of the food situation and of future prospects lead to the conclusion that development of production of essential commodities in the world as a whole and in the various regions is adequate to keep pace with population growth and also provide for progressive improvement in nutrition levels?

6 To prepare this concise factual summary, the Council appointed a Drafting Committee composed as follows: Australia, Brazil, India, Italy, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

3. Improvement of Conditions for Increasing Agricultural Production

When Commission I has considered the facts, as revealed in the documentary material to be supplied under items 1 and 2, it would come to consideration of what measures should be taken to increase production and consumption, especially in regions where the rate of increase of production is insufficient to keep pace with nutritional requirements and population growth, and furthermore, of what aid the better-placed countries can bring to these regions. These questions have recently been the subject of a special UN study entitled “Measures for the Economic Development of Underdeveloped Countries,” and several of the measures recommended in it are wholly, or partly, in the field of agriculture. Other investigations carried out recently also are relevant to the subject, in particular the FAO/UN Study on the Reform of Agrarian Structures, and special studies undertaken by FAO.

It is suggested that Commission I might conduct its discussion of these questions under the following heads (these focal points for discussion are not intended to limit in any way the freedom of Commission I):

  1. Reform of Agrarian Structures

    1. Further investigations and analysis considered necessary in regard to agrarian structures and their implications for agricultural and economic development.

    2. Action that FAO could take, in consultation with other international organizations, to help governments to bring about improvements in agrarian structures.

  2. Investment for Agricultural Development

    1. Progress by individual countries in respect of domestic investment.

    2. Progress and proposals in the field of international investment.

    3. Agricultural credit facilities.

  3. Migration

The agricultural aspects of migration.

4. International Commodity Problems

  1. Recent developments and policies regarding marketing and securing markets for major agricultural commodities.

  2. Future international machinery for co-ordinating commodity work at an intergovernmental level.

5. Any other business that the Commission may decide to take up.

Suggested Program for Commission II

1. In the Provisional Agenda for the next session of the Conference, all items concerning the technical activities and programs of FAO have been grouped under Chapter IV. They include the Director-General's Report on the Work of FAO during the past year, the draft Program of Work for 1952 and 1953, the Expanded Program of Technical Assistance and the Report on the Program of Work and Associated Long-Term Problems.

2. The problem in planning the Commission's activities is to avoid undue waste of time on relatively less important matters. For instance, any detailed examination of the budget for the immediately ensuing year must be limited as far as possible, as substantial modification would be difficult to make.

The essential purpose is to take cognizance of progress made, to examine such aspects of FAO's works as require Conference approval and to formulate such recommendations as may be deemed necessary for the guidance of the Director-General, as well as of member nations in planning and carrying out future technical action. This does not, however, restrict the right of delegations to raise any questions they wish in the Commissions.7

3. There should be two phases in the work of Commission II:

  1. A review (in plenary meetings of the full Commission) of a few selected topics of fundamental importance for future program planning;

  2. A more detailed consideration of the various technical programs of the divisions, by means of the panel system.

7 Whenever a member government intends to raise such a question the work of the Conference would be greatly facilitated if advance notice were given to the secretariat.

4. In the light of the above considerations, the following arrangements are suggested:

  1. The meeting of Commission II would begin with:

    1. A joint discussion of the Report on the Program of Work and Associated Long-Term Problems and of the Introduction to the Program of Work for 1952–53;

    2. Consideration of general problems connected with Technical Assistance activities.

This should be in the nature of a general discussion, to be opened by a statement explaining the guiding lines which have been adopted in drawing up the program for 1952– 53, and in conducting Technical Assistance activities, relating these to the recommendations of the Working Party on the Program of Work and Associated Long-Term Problems. Delegations would then formulate their views, confining their comments to the major points. It is not expected that any specific conclusions would be reached at this time, but the introductory debate would serve to clarify the issues and give an indication of prevailing lines of thinking.

  1. Commission II could then consider the following topics, where guidance is required for the development of future activities and where clarification is desirable:

    1. FAO's activities in the field of extension as well as program implications in relation to future work;

    2. Problems connected with the collection of information (statistical and otherwise) for the purpose of FAO's technical programs.

  2. A third question, of a different character, would then come up for discussion, i.e. the principles of forestry policies. This subject has been under consideration for over a year and practical agreement has now been reached at a regional level.

  3. At this stage, panel meetings could be arranged to deal with the activities of their technical divisions, to review their programs for the ensuing years. There should be one panel for each of the five technical divisions — Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Nutrition, and Economics — participation in which would be open to all delegations.

    The Expanded Program of Technical Assistance requires no special panel. The execution of this program has now been carried sufficiently far for consideration of its technical aspects to be related to the corresponding sections of the regular program of work. Therefore, each panel should deal with all activities and programs of the technical division assigned to it, including Technical Assistance, the coordination of the work of the various panels being assured by joint meetings of the panels where necessary and finally by the full Commission. However, the panel reports should contain a separate section covering Technical Assistance activities.

  4. By the time the panels have finished their work, it is anticipated that the findings of Commission I with respect to the world situation, will be available for consideration by Commission II. When it meets again to adopt the panel reports, Commission II should also review the results of Commission I's deliberations insofar as they affect FAO's technical activities and programs.


The Council understands that the Director-General will prepare careful documentation for the discussion of all items listed in the above programs for Commissions I and II and that this documentation will emphasize specific items on which worthwhile progress can be made.

Program for Commission III

Having to consider legal, administrative, and financial matters referred to it by the Conference, Commission III should set up at the earliest opportunity a committee to deal with the budget. All other matters, including financial questions other than the budget, should preferably be considered in full Commission.

Budget Co-ordination

The distribution of responsibilities between Commission II and Commission III in regard to the budget will be simplified by the new arrangement whereby regular sessions of the Conference are held biennially. In future the Director-General will be submitting to the Conference programs of work and budgets for two years, the first year being worked out in detail, the second year in broad outline.

Commission II will examine the detailed program for the immediately ensuing years. It will recommend such adjustments as it considers desirable and possible, and Commission III will examine the budgetary implication of such recommendations.

Commission III will examine the recommendations of Commission II with reference to the Director-General's proposals for the second year, and put forward for approval allocations of expenditure in broad categories, covering the different activities to be undertaken. Both the detailed interpretation of these recommendations of Commission II, and the implementation of the broad allocations made by Commission III, will be matters for the Council session to be held before the opening of the second year (See Financial Regulation 4.1 (b).

Commission II will also consider and make recommendations regarding the development or change of orientation in the Organization's broad fields of activity for the guidance of the Director-General in further years following the two years for which programs have been submitted. These recommendations of Commission II will cover broad technical developments and not at that stage involve questions of cost. They will not therefore come before Commission III but will be for the guidance of the Director-General in framing programs of work and budgets to be submitted at the next regular session of the Conference for the two years following that Conference.

If the above distribution of basic responsibilities meets with the approval of the Conferrence, there may nevertheless remain a need to resolve questions of mutual concern to Commissions II and III. It is therefore suggested that a joint Program and Budget Committee be appointed, to be composed of not more than four representatives of each commission. This Committee would review all recommendations of Commission II having budgetary implications whenever the Budget Committee of Commission III has any questions to raise about their implementation, and suggest solutions to both commissions. This Committee supplements the decision of the 1949 Conference regarding the handling of budget problems and is not a substitute for the agreement reached at that time.

Date and Place of Sixth Session of the Conference

In view of the technical difficulties involved in completing the required Conference accommodations and facilities in FAO headquarters

The Council agrees that the Sixth Session of the Conference should open in Rome on 19 November 1951, instead of 5 November, as had been previously decided.

Date and Place of Thirteenth Session of the Council

In view of the fact that the Sixth Session of the Conference will commence in Rome on 19 November 1951

It is agreed that the Thirteenth Session of the Council should convene in Rome on 12 November 1951.

Other Matters

  1. The Council recommends that, owing to limitations of time and the extensive character of the Agenda, any general statement on matters not included in the Agenda of the Conference and dealing with issues of special importance might, with due notice to the chairman of the session, be made at plenary sessions, should the heads of delegations wish to deliver the statement verbally instead of submitting it in writing.

  2. The Council recommends that the secretariat circulate each morning a bulletin containing a brief summary of the work done in the meetings held the previous day. It will include the text of all resolutions, whether adopted or proposed, and the list of meetings to be held on the day of issuance. The Council believes that the additional expenditure involved will be well worthwhile as it will make it much easier for chairmen of commissions and heads of delegations to plan their work and will greatly facilitate co-ordination.

  3. The Council recommends that the General Committee should again establish a Co-ordinating Committee composed of the chairmen of the commissions and three members of the General Committee.

  4. Questions relating to co-operation with United Nations agencies and intergovernmental organizations will normally arise on specific issues in the commissions concerned. If the conclusions are conflicting, the Co-ordinating Committee may either deal with the issues itself or appoint a special body to consider them.

    With reference to nongovernmental international organizations, the Council recommends that the Conference appoint a special Conference Committee, on a selective basis, to meet with the representatives of the organizations and to discuss with them special matters on which they desire to consult with representatives of the Conference.

  5. In drawing up the above recommendations, the Council has borne in mind the general complaint from various delegations that too many committees had met concurrently during the 1949 Conference. It suggests, accordingly, that a limited number of committees and panels be set up, and recommends that not more than five should meet concurrently.

    The Council recommends that, except for the General Committee, the Co-ordinating Committee, the Joint Program and Budget Committee, and the Committee on Relations with Nongovernmental Organizations, all committees and panels be open to all delegations.

    It is further recommended that whenever a commission needs to set up a drafting committee or ad hoc working party, it should not be composed of nations but rather of individuals, serving in a personal capacity.

  6. The Council concurs in the view that a target of three weeks should be established to complete the agenda of the Conference. It is strongly of the opinion, however, that prior to the close of the session, two, or possibly three days should be dedicated to a careful review of conclusions reached by the three commissions, in order to co-ordinate and integrate them in the final report of the Conference.

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