Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a privilege to place before you today the first fruits of the review which the Conference asked me to conduct when it adopted Resolution 16/75.
In this address I will not repeat the arguments and propositions which are in the document. I will rather discuss the underlying concepts.
I will say two things right away.
The Resolution, and more particularly the debates of the Conference, which the Resolution asked me to take into account, gave me a full mandate to propose fundamental changes.
Secondly, the concepts upon which my proposals are based are not static, but dynamic. This Organization needs a shake-up now, but it must not and will not be allowed thereafter to relapse into complacent conservatism and academic aridity.
FAO must not only face up to the challenge of the times. It must change with the times. It must master its own development and not be the passive servant of forces around it.
What is the challenge of the times? I wish I could say that the World Food Council had so elucidated and clarified this that one month after its dispersal there was nothing left for anyone to say. This is not the case nor, I fear, will ever be so.
This Council of FAO must take heed and accept the responsibilities which the Organization's founding fathers foresaw for it in regard to the world food and agricultural situation.
Since this is a special session of the Council which was called for a limited but fundamental purpose, I will not engage today in an unfortunately familiar recital of dismaying data about tonnages, calories, nutrients and prices. It should be sufficient to say that the drama, indeed the tragedy, of the struggle to hold back the searing blight of famine and hunger for millions of poor people is still with us and will, alas, continue to be so for many years.
The problem of hunger and malnutrition will not be completely solved in 10 years. Rhetoric can fill conferences: it does not fill stomachs.
On the other hand, it is appropriate to refer to the global, socio-economic context in which we meet. Although for some governments it will not seem appropriate to place their attitudes and actions within the framework of a New International Economic Order, the fact is that even they must and do recognize that the old order is flawed, is changing, and giving place to new.
A formidable impetus is driving towards the creation of a new framework of economic relationships, based on equity and compassion instead of the lawlessness of the economic jungle.
Whatever twists and turns may occur in the development of the ideological and economic struggle now evident upon many world stages, I am convinced that the struggle can and must lead to positive results. Neither this Council nor I would be content if this Organization were merely to be a humble spectator.
We have an established existence and a rôle founded in our charter which represented the wishes of mankind emerging from the holocaust of the Second World War. We have organizational instruments with great potential, as well as actual force, based on a generation of sound technical knowledge and operational experience.
At this critical juncture, we must use the instruments at FAO's command properly and to the full. We must as necessary take new courses, make new departures, create new dimensions in the nature and work of FAO and its relations with other organizations and bodies, in order to meet the challenge.
This is my ambition and my goal, and if you share these and support me, I will not spare myself in any efforts to achieve them.
Yet, it is surprising that there should already have been so much talk - even impassioned talk - elsewhere of “centrifugal” forces and of “fragmentation” of the UN system.
I cannot, of course, speak for other organizations or initiatives which may be implicated in the use of such terminology. I can say that when applied to FAO, such expressions may well represent certain interests and concerns but, in my view, they are hardly justified. At the least, they are grossly exaggerated.
How can my modest enough proposals for a Technical Cooperation Programme, stemming from the original charter of FAO and reflecting the now desperate need to respond to the demands of Member Governments for more relevance to and impact upon their needs, be represented as centrifugal in any sense?
Let us take a few facts. Up to now, FAO has been, along with ICAO and IMCO, one of an isolated trio of Specialized Agencies which do not provide any technical assistance under the Regular Programme. It is true that Agencies such as ITU, WMO and the UPU provide only small amounts. But how widely is it realised that they and all the others provided a total of more than $70 million in 1975 for technical assistance under their Regular Programmes, out of which the UN itself accounted for $7.7 million and the WHO $53 million? These are annual figures.
In these circumstances, how can it be suggested that FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme will create a new and terrible centrifugal force, threatening the UN system, or at least one section of it?
Must it really be so that FAO may only carry out technical assistance activities when donors of voluntary funds wish it to do so? Is it really that FAO may not perform technical assistance activities in cooperation with its member countries when they wish it to do so, simply because there is a magic about the source of funding? Can FAO be competent to execute technical assistance projects for UNDP and Trust Fund donors amounting in 1975 to 250% of its Regular Programme for that year and not competent to spend 11% of its Regular Programme in direct cooperation with its Member Governments? This is indeed a paradox.
I cannot believe that it is the wish of this Council to ignore FAO's rights under its 31-year old charter, to maintain it solely in an accessory if not subservient position, to deny it the new dimension which it desperately needs. Nor can I believe that instead of a Technical Cooperation Programme; governments would prefer to revert to the previously proposed increases in the number of posts, meetings and publications in Rome.
As regards “fragmentation”, here again, I am somewhat astonished by the exuberance of the terminology. Apparently, it is felt by some that the UN system will be fragmented, no less, if after many years of pressure from many of its Member Governments, FAO converts its existing posts of Senior Agricultural Adviser/Country Representative, for which it pays one-third of the costs, into Country Representative posts for which it pays in full.
Is the system so fragile, are countries so defenceless, that this change - which incidentally will provide some companionship to the existing 84 fully independent country representatives of the WHO and a few dozen others in total from other Agencies - can have such profound effects?
It would, of course, be serious if we were proposing to remove ourselves from the normal and recognized control of the UNDP Resident Representative and of his Headquarters in New York over UNDP-financed projects. But there is no question of that. The overall control, which should however take into account the professional competence of the Specialized Agencies, will remain as before.
It would be less but still serious if FAO were to challenge the position of the UNDP Resident Representative as primus inter pares among representatives of UN organizations in a country. But we do not challenge this nor the general coordinative function that goes with it.
The FAO Country Representative will fit readily into the pattern of coordination that exists of the activities of WHO, Unesco, UNIDO, UNICEF, ILO and others who have representatives in countries. We will do no less than they do. In fact, so large still is our UNDP-financed programme, so intimate are our relations, that I expect we will do more than most to inform, to coordinate with, and - let us remember it - to advise and guide the Resident Representative.
In this connection, it must be remembered that in 1975 FAO was responsible for trust fund activities of almost the same amount as the FAO projects executed on behalf of UNDP, i.e. around $100 million in each case. Yet it has never been suggested by anyone that we were “centrifuging” or “fragmenting” or that there were any coordination problems. There were none in fact.
The fact is that coordination begins and ends in the government of the country itself. This is the crucial point which seems to have been forgotten.
Apart from this, we have in FAO, unlike in many other organizations, a whole Department -the Development Department - and within it a Field Programme Division, whose business it is to ensure programme coherence and coordination covering all funds on a country and regional basis. This Department works very closely with donor and recipient governments and with field representatives, as well as with UNDP Headquarters, the Banks, and private industry.
Coordination therefore does not rest solely upon the Resident Representative at the country level. He is, of course, very important, but how effective would he be without the advice of the FAO Country Representative, who has the whole of the Organization behind him? This advice will continue to be freely available to the Resident Representative.
But, Mr. Chairman, let me be quite blunt and clear. We will not submit to an interpretation of coordination meaning subservience to control by the Resident Representative, or of UNDP Headquarters in New York, for what are primarily and in the last analysis my responsibilities to member countries of FAO. In particular, as regards the management and control of the Technical Cooperation Programme, I will be responsible to Member Governments of FAO. The Resident Representative will be informed and consulted, as necessary and desired, but he will not be in a position to control it, to transform it into a UNDP exercise with all the time-consuming procedures this would imply.
This position, Mr. Chairman, is not a breach of the so-called Consensus. The Consensus makes it quite clear that non-UNDP-financed activities may only be coordinated by the Resident Representative to the extent that the Agencies agree that they shall be. The same will presumably apply to IFAD. Or will the donor countries, as requested by UNDP, insist on the operations of IFAD in countries being the monopoly of the Resident Representative?.
Without discussing the developments which have in practice destroyed the somewhat rigid country programme system which was envisaged in the Consensus, I can point out that country programmes can hardly be destroyed or even mildly prejudiced by occasional un-programmed assistance, of less than one year's duration and less than $250 000 in amount, which is demanded by the governments who are those responsible for their country programme.
Indeed, as indicated in my proposals, the Technical Cooperation Programme will be used as far as possible to constitute a small but powerful adjunct to country programmes.
Requests will originate from governments: not from FAO. They will of necessity be un-programmed, i.e. will represent a gap in the country programme.
Preference will be given to proposals which will maximise the usefulness of other resources already provided internally and externally, and will wherever possible have a multiplier effect, in attracting to the country programme an increase of resources from financing institutions, multilateral funds, and bilateral sources.
When requested by governments, the provision for investment studies can, in fact, include provision of instruments for better country programming, in the form of sectoral analyses or action-oriented studies.
There need be no fear therefore that my proposals will hinder country programming. On the contrary, they can serve to strengthen it.
If a member country does not wish to have a FAO Country Representative, or wishes him to work in particular ways through particular channels, its wishes must be respected. I cannot and will never try to force a country to accept a Country Representative, an investment mission, a sector analysis study, or a project under the Technical Cooperation Programme.
If, however, a country requests these things of FAO, can the requests be decided solely by the Resident Representative who may know nothing of the technical issues involved?
I should also like to refer to another aspect of the so-called Consensus which seems to have been forgotten in recent months. The Consensus clearly envisaged a partnership between UNDP and the Specialized Agencies, using the latter's technical competence and operational capacity to the full.
How is it then that without consultation with the Agencies, without using them, and indeed in the face of their protests, the UNDP have built up and clearly intend to go on building up direct UNDP execution of sectoral projects?
This is not something new. It began in 1969. The Consensus was in 1971, when UNDP's direct execution totalled less than $1 million. Today it totals more than $28 million! And this includes a large amount for agricultural projects.
I do not mention this in the sense of requiring a quid pro quo. But if unnecessary controversy is to be foisted on FAO, let it be remembered that the Consensus and partnership are not one-way streets.
Mr. Chairman, I have spent some time in discussing these issues because preceding this special session of the Council, meetings elsewhere have tried to anticipate and influence the discussions of this Council by arguments, the logic and indeed accuracy of which are very much open to question. It is important that this Council should be able to exercise the sovereign responsibility delegated to it by the Conference in full knowledge and appreciation of the true situation.
Having said that, I want to stress that I have not sought and do not seek confrontation with those who are sincerely concerned to preserve a true and equal partnership in the interests of member countries, especially as I believe that it is the privilege of countries to decide.
I can assure you that if you approve my proposals, it is my firm intention to establish a constructive and harmonious relationship with Member Governments at the country level. We will welcome true partnership with all. We will not hide our intentions and actions nor seek to rival and out-do others. Always we will have at heart the best interests of the country and not of this or that organization.
Backed by your full support, it will be my aim to consult carefully with the Administrator of the UNDP and, as appropriate, with the Heads of the Specialized Agencies which already have their own Country and Area Offices, on all pertinent issues and arrangements, including the transitional arrangements which will be required.
I would like to turn now to some other and more substantial issues, deferring for separate discussion the question of FAO's relations with other bodies. I shall also not duplicate all the points covered by the most constructive and helpful comments to be found in the reports of the Programme and Finance Committees.
As regards the proposed carry-over of the Technical Cooperation Programme, I accept the recommendation of the Finance Committee that it should be for a period of one biennium only. This must, however, apply to both committed and uncommitted funds. Otherwise there will be great pressure on me to spend the funds as quickly as possible within the current biennium and not to be just as careful and objective in selecting the last as the first proposal received.
The change required in the Financial Rules will be an extension of an existing provision. It does not involve any significant constitutional issue. Nor does it involve a budgetary one, since each budget level will have to be considered on its merits, bearing in mind the state of the Technical Cooperation Programme at that time.
I do not propose to discuss the uses of the Technical Cooperation Programme now. I will await your comments and views and then reply to these. In general, I should like to stress the priority I give to FAO being able to act directly and with efficacy in the four main areas outlined in the document. This is essential to its relevance to and impact upon the real and immediate problems of countries.
I hope also that you will maintain the confidence you showed in me when you elected me and grant me the flexibility I need to implement, and in the light of experience, to develop the Technical Cooperation Programme. I realize that some might be much interested in discussing the minutiae of definitions, criteria and procedures. I would, however, firmly make the request that such temptations are not pursued at this crucial stage of decisions on a new approach.
I do not think I need say much today about the priority I propose to give to investment. I believe that the importance of this is fully recognized. It has long been established in FAO's cooperative arrangements with the World Bank, the Regional Banks, the private Banks, and other sources of investment.
Looming on the horizon is the creation and implementation of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. This will introduce a new factor of great significance in the drive to increase investment in food and agriculture production.
It is essential that FAO should be in a position not only to respond to the increased requirements of IFAD and of other financing institutions, but also to assist governments in their efforts to obtain resources from these institutions.
We seek to expand our rôle beyond that to which we have been confined in recent years but we will not duplicate work already done, nor will we seek to do more than is required of us.
For the time being, I propose to push ahead as fast as possible with action on this priority, using the accumulated experience and expertise which we have and also resources within the Technical Departments hitherto untapped or inadequately exploited. In due course I may have to propose further measures and changes in the light of experience.
As regards decentralization, I hope the issues will not be clouded with confusion created elsewhere concerning the Consensus.
I would stress that considerably more thought must be given to the future functions and rôle of the Regional Offices bearing in mind the drive in UN circles to decentralize functions and authority from New York to the Regional Economic Commissions, at the same time subordinating the Specialized Agencies to some new centralized instrument, or a new centralized bureaucracy.
On the other hand, I do foresee that an accretion of the powers and functions of the Regional Economic Commissions would call for an appropriate response from FAO. This would apply particularly to the truly regional aspects of the work of Regional Offices and particularly of the Joint Divisions which we, unlike others, already have. It is here, perhaps, in the truly regional framework of integrated regional policies and activities, that the FAO's Regional Offices will find their most satisfying and effective rôle.
For the moment, however, I am deferring decisive judgements, such as would be involved in the very large increase, previously proposed for this biennium, of new technical posts in Regional Offices. This pause will be healthy and will enable decisions to be based on a more reasoned approach.
The cut in new posts applies, of course, in an even more dramatic way to Headquarters. I have made it clear, and I repeat, that far from wanting to build up a centralized bureaucracy in Rome, I will seek every way to arrest and to reverse the growth of Headquarters premises in order to accommodate more and more staff in Rome. The start made in these proposals, which in fact was limited by commitments from decisions and actions already effective in 1975, will be pursued.
So will the attack on the incubus of ever-increasing publications and meetings. This effort can, however, be successful only if I have your full and constant support. Already there have been pressures to restore meetings and publications. Many technical or other groups of interests will feel exceptions are merited in their case and will make representations.
I am not, of course, infallible, but unless you give me your full confidence and support to make the decisions, there will never be any cuts.
I come now to the Review of Programmes of the various Departments and Divisions. There are many aspects of these on which I could comment. I will, however, confine myself now to one or two issues on which there may be some misunderstanding.
In one case, there has even been misrepresentation to the effect that I am abrogating one of FAO's fundamental functions by attacking all activities of a theoretical and long-term nature. Such misrepresentation may suit the purposes of any who positively wish to prevent FAO from proving its capacity for practical, immediate impact on the food and agricultural problems of member countries. But it is misrepresentation.
It is quite true that I have no intention of allowing the Organization increasingly to become an Ivory Tower in which econometricians and theoreticians elaborate ever more recondite studies and so-called master-plans.
Given the lack of reliable data and the methodological and other uncertainties, such elaborate studies do not gain in relevance and accuracy from the addition of ever greater resources.
In fact, by the time they are produced - according to the authors they are never completed -and discussed, they are usually out of date. The prescription takes so long to prepare that by the time it is ready the patient has a different disease.
Nevertheless, this is not the same as saying that all global, perspective, and long-term activities are always useless. On the contrary, work in such fields as Trypanosomiasis or Genetic Resources, and research in many fields, must obviously involve a long-term effort. And studies, if produced in sufficient brevity, clarity and relevance, at the right time, can form the basis and motive force for the sometimes tremendous practical action which should follow.
The document therefore explicitly recognizes the function of policy analyses and studies, but stresses the need for a better balance, particularly as regards the allocation of resources to unduly elaborate, over-theoretical and diffuse studies. I feel all the more confident in this conclusion in view of the fact that the Programme Committee, Council and Conference had themselves pronounced, even before the 1976–77 Programme of Work and Budget proposed yet more increases, that there was an imbalance to the disadvantage of the Agricultural Divisions.
There need be no fear that I am abrogating or surrendering to other bodies the leadership which FAO should and must exercise in international policy analysis and harmonization in the field of food and agriculture. My intention is that it should be sharpened rather than diffused and controlled by FAO Governing Bodies rather than dictated by external forces.
The resources adequate for this purpose will be provided as and when necessary. Under these revised proposals, the budget for the Policy Analysis Division alone is $4.5 million. This is still more than for most Divisions in the Agriculture Department. The work on PSWAD, CPS and Agricultural Adjustment will go on, at a cost of over $1.2 million, but we hope in a more economic and effective way than previously proposed. Above all, the importance of trade is fully recognized in the budget of seven and a half million dollars for the Commodities and Trade Division.
In this connection, I might mention that the proposals in the document are consistent with the results of UNCTAD IV, but I am ready to make all necessary further adjustments, after consultations with the Secretary-General of UNCTAD which are proceeding, so as to guarantee approved follow-up by FAO to UNCTAD IV.
For the rest, I am sure that there will be a number of questions, some disappointments, and some contrary views expressed, on a number of the changes in resource allocations. What is proposed, however, is a balanced as well as integrated package.
This package has been examined very carefully, in principle and in detail, by the Programme and Finance Committees. I personally attended the Committees for the greater part of the time while they were considering these proposals. Their questions and comments were perceptive and searching and I have found them of great assistance. I am happy and grateful to note from their report that my proposals have found their favour and support, as I hope they will find yours.
It is, of course, normal for the Director-General of FAO to hope that his proposals on any matter will be accepted. This is, however, a very special case, as this is indeed a special Council session.
It is not merely that I am newly elected and therefore wish to make a good start. It is not merely that I was given a mandate by Conference Resolution which I wish successfully to discharge.
It is because the underlying cause was a widespread and deep feeling by the majority of FAO's Member Governments that, at a time when it can openly be said by many that the UN system is facing a crisis of confidence, and it appears that the Organization is confronting a turning-point in its history, a new departure is essential in the history of FAO.
It is because now is the time to begin with that new departure: otherwise, the fair wind will be lost and the tide will turn against the fortunes of the Organization.
Now, therefore, is the time for bold and decisive changes, for changes in attitudes, as well as methods, for courage and confidence.
As foreseen in its earliest days, it is time that in addition to large outside resources - greatly increased we hope by the creation of IFAD - the Organization should be given the capacity to be known for its prompt and efficacious intervention under its Regular Programme to assist countries.
This will be an essential part of its rehabilitation as the leading organization for food and agricultural development. Governments and peoples should instinctively look first to FAO for information, guidance and effective help on the international level. FAO should be the locus of first resort for analysis, harmonization and cooperation in the world attack on the problems of food production, distribution and consumption and rural development.
Above all, FAO should provide a vision which will not delude the hopes of all men and women for a world free from intolerable inequities. There are many evils in the world. There is want, oppression, discrimination, and indifference to the suffering of others.
Can there be an evil which is worse than starvation of women, children and men, when it is within the world's power to avoid this?
I dare to have a vision of the time when the world community, of which FAO is and will be an essential element and instrument, will no longer tolerate the evil of hunger amidst plenty.
It is a vision which you share, which you can and one day will realize. In all modesty but determination, my efforts will be dedicated to hastening that time. I know I will have your support.
(until 31 December 1976)
Independent Chairman: Gonzalo Bula Hoyos
Germany, Fed. Rep. of 1
New Zealand 3
Sri Lanka 1
Trinidad and Tobago 2
United Kingdom 3
United States of America 2
1 Term of office until 31 December 1976.
2 Term of office until conclusion of Nineteenth Session of the Conference, November 1977.
3 Term of office until 31 December 1978.
(as from 1 January 1977)
Independent Chairman: Gonzalo Bula Hoyos
Germany, Fed. Rep. of 3
New Zealand 2
Trinidad and Tobago 1
United Kingdom 2
United States of America 1
1 Term of office until conclusion of Nineteenth Session of the Conference, November 1977.
2 Term of Office until 31 December 1978.
3 Term of office until conclusion of Twentieth Session of the Conference, November 1979.
(November 1975 – November 1977)
R.W. Phillips (United States of America)
J.S. Camara (Guinea)
S. Juma'a (Jordan)
B. Shaib (Nigeria)
M. Trkulja (Yugoslavia)
A.S. Tuinman (Netherlands)
J.C. Vignaud (Argentina)
W.A.F. Grabisch (Germany, Fed. Rep. of)
P. Celan (Romania)
C. Nagata (Japan)
(November 1975 – November 1977)
S. Ahmed (Bangladesh)
S.B. Ahmad (Pakistan)
M. Bel Hadj Amor (Tunisia)
C.H. Lagerfelt (Sweden)
C.J. Valdes (Philippines)
P.J. Byrnes (United States of America)
M. Paniza de Bellavita (Panama)
A.K. Appiah (Ghana)
COMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL MATTERS
(November 1975 – November 1977)
UN/FAO COMMITTEE ON FOOD AID POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES, 1976
* Australia 2
* Brazil 3
* Canada 2
* Congo 3
* France 1
* Germany, Fed. Rep. of 1
* India 2
* Indonesia 3
* Netherlands 3
* Nicaragua 1
* Saudi Arabia 2
* Senegal 1
* Switzerland 1
* Uganda 3
United Kingdom 1
United States of America 2
* Elected by FAO Council.
1 Term of office until 31 December 1976.
2 Term of office until 31 December 1977.
3 Term of office until 31 December 1978.
FAO MEMBER NATIONS
(as at 16 July 1976)
Central African Republic
Germany, Fed. Rep. of
Korea, Rep. of
Papua New Guinea
Republic of South Viet-Nam
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
United States of America
Yemen Arab Republic
Yemen, People's Dem. Rep. of