1. The Hundred and Twenty-fifth Session of the Council was held in Rome from 26 to 28 November 2003 under the Chairmanship of Aziz Mekouar, Independent Chairperson 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: Blair Hankey (Canada), Govindan Nair (India) and Ms Ngoni Masoka (Zimbabwe).
4. The Council elected Ms Claire Gaudot (France) as Chairperson and Philippe J. Lhuillier (Philippines) as Vice-Chairperson of the Drafting Committee with the following membership: Australia, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Canada, France, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Japan, Philippines, Peru, Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of), Swaziland and Switzerland.
5. The Council commended the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) Bureau and the Secretariat for drafting the improved format for reporting on the World Food Summit Follow-up. It approved the provisional use of the revised format, with appropriate changes to reflect the suggestions made by Members at this Session, for reporting on all seven commitments in 2004. It recommended a more detailed discussion and review of the format at the next Session of the CFS. The Secretariat was asked to explore feasible mechanisms, consistent with the timing of the established timetable for Regional Conferences and the limited resources available. The report on monitoring the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action would be sent for examination to the FAO Regional Conferences and the CFS.
6. In accordance with Rule VII of the General Rules of the Organization (GRO) the Council agreed to put the following nominations before the Conference:
|Chairperson of the Conference:|
|Jim Sutton (New Zealand)
|Chairperson of Commission I:|
|Ms Hedwig Wögerbauer (Austria)
|Chairperson of Commission II:|
|Mohammad Saeid Noori-Naeini (Iran, Islamic Republic of)|
7. In accordance with Rule VII GRO the Council agreed to put the following nominations before the Conference:
8. In accordance with Rule VII GRO the Council agreed to put the following nominations, provided for by Rule X-1 GRO, before the Conference:
United States of America
9. The Council considered the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) proposals for the 2004-2005 biennium, with the benefit of the comments made in the Reports of the Programme and Finance Committees.
10. The Council recognized that the full PWB document had further elaborated the two scenarios of Real Growth (RG) and Zero-Real Growth (ZRG) presented in the Summary. It appreciated the format of the PWB and its enhanced strategic orientation. The Council further noted that an additional document had been prepared by the Secretariat in response to requests made at its preceding Session. It recognized that this document provided the outline of a possible Zero-Nominal Growth (ZNG) scenario. Some Members, however, regretted that their expectation of seeing a ZNG scenario in US dollar terms had not been fulfilled. A few Members requested the Secretariat to prepare a document relating to the latter scenario. The Council was thoroughly advised as to the impact of this scenario, including the implications on current staffing levels.
11. The Council noted that a number of changes had been introduced since the Summary PWB it had considered in June, particularly under the ZRG scenario. A major change was a shift of resources away from Major Programme 2.5: Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts in order to strengthen other priority areas. In this connection, many Members echoed the misgivings expressed in the Programme and Finance Committees, especially regarding those reductions affecting operational work and support for capacity-building which were of direct concern for developing countries. Irrespective of the final decision of the Conference on the PWB, these Members hoped that this negative impact could be mitigated during implementation in the next biennium. Many other Members, however, considered that the shift of resources was acceptable in the light of the priority accorded to Codex, IPPC, Plant Genetic Resources, Fisheries and Forestry.
12. In addition to the above-noted case areas of priority, the Council noted that other areas had been recommended by the Programme and Finance Committees for appropriate funding during implementation: the Action Plan for Human Resources spearheaded by the AFH Division, and Evaluation. The Council was advised that security on Headquarters premises also required strengthening. It was advised that the Programme and Finance Committees would be informed of the eventual actions taken by the Secretariat regarding the preceding areas.
13. Among the key dimensions of the PWB, the Council reiterated the need to maintain an appropriate balance between normative and operational activities in light of the requirements of the entire Membership.
14. Given the importance of the impact of current exchange rates, many interventions referred to the proposal for Split Assessments. The Council’s discussion on this issue was reflected in a consolidated manner under sub-item 8.3 of the agenda on the Reports of the Hundred and fourth and Hundred and fifth Sessions of the Finance Committee.
15. Members expressed a range of opinions on the budget level for the next biennium. Many Members reiterated their support for the Real Growth (RG) scenario presented by the Secretariat, stressing in particular the lack of progress made in implementing the commitments undertaken by the World Food Summit, and the considerable requirements for policy and technical assistance and support for capacity-building in developing countries requiring adequate resources for FAO.
16. While acknowledging their attachment to the work of FAO, another group of Members reiterated their preference for a ZNG budget in US dollar terms, emphasizing the financial difficulties experienced by governments at national level, which made capacity to pay a key factor in accepting international commitments, and emphasizing the need for sound management of the Organization. They considered that ZNG in US dollar terms could be achieved through further efficiency savings, restructuring measures, and more incisive prioritization.
17. A few Members favoured ZRG as a reasonable compromise between the need to limit assessments on Members, and the expectations of FAO pursuing established priorities satisfactorily.
18. Yet other Members did not specifically express their respective Governments’ views at this stage.
19. The Council was not, therefore, in a position to reach a consensus position on the budget level. It looked forward to further efforts to reconcile diverging opinions, ahead of the discussion and decisions at the Conference in the following week.
20. In addition to the usual discussion of the Programme of Work and Budget for the next biennium, the Council welcomed the further discussion in the Joint Meeting of the issue of independence and location of the Evaluation Service. It noted that the Joint Meeting had considered a range of options formulated by the Secretariat in this regard.
21. The Council endorsed the recommendations made by the Joint Meeting, aimed at strengthening the independent role of the Evaluation Service, within its existing location in PBE, summarized as follows:
22. The Council also noted that proposals would be made to the Programme Committee regarding how it could be involved in the appointment of the Chief of the Evaluation Service. It further noted that the Programme Committee would review progress regarding implementation during 2004.
23. In relation to the ongoing item of the Joint Meeting on “Savings and Efficiencies in Governance”, the Council welcomed the fact that, following its own request, the Committees had considered possible ways to combine meetings of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) and the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) and the means of enhancing the focus and effectiveness of their discussions. It noted that the Programme and Finance Committees would reconsider the issue in May 2004, on the basis of revised proposals.
24. With regard to the programme on Forest Policies and Governance, a Regional Group indicated that these were two different concepts and were of the view that there was no agreed definition in any of the United Nations Bodies specializing in forestry matters that combined the two words “forestry” and “governance”.
25. The Council endorsed the Report of the Committee, recalling that the Committee's comments on the Programme of Work and Budget 2004-2005 were taken up in connection with the pertinent item on the Council Agenda.
26. The Council noted that the Programme Committee had pursued its discussion on
priority-setting, focusing at this Session on enhancing its advisory role in setting relative priorities. It looked forward to the substantive discussion and recommendations on relative priorities to be taken up by the Programme Committee at its next Session in May 2004, on the basis of the proposed new arrangements and the supporting information to be prepared by the Secretariat.
27. The Council agreed with the comments made by the Programme Committee regarding the Technical Cooperation Programme, including the initiation of a process to adapt it to evolving circumstances since it had been launched many years ago. It also took note of the comments made on the two evaluation documents considered by the Programme Committee.
28. The Council considered the updated status of contributions of the Organization at 21 November 2003 and noted that the percentage of current assessments received was at the lowest point of the past five years at the same date. The Council noted that sixty-six 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.
29. The Council expressed concern over the high level of arrears outstanding, noting that sixty-one Member Nations still had arrears outstanding from 2002 and previous years and thirty-nine owed arrears in such amounts as would prejudice their Right to Vote at the forthcoming Session of the Conference in accordance with Article III.4 of the Constitution. While appreciating the often-difficult financial situations of some countries, emphasis was once more placed on the importance of all Member Nations, irrespective of size, honouring 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.
30. The Council recalled that, at its Hundred and Twenty-third session, it had requested that the current formula used in FAO for the determination of equitable geographic distribution be reviewed taking into consideration the various methodologies used in the UN System. At its Hundred and Twenty-fourth Session, the Council considered the different options formulated by the Secretariat for the revision of the current methodology10 and noted that further analysis of the options would be conducted by the Finance Committee at its Hundred and fourth Session in September 2003.
31. In light of the recommendations made by the Finance Committee in this regard, the Council decided to establish a Working Group to review further the options and determine the terms under which a revised methodology could be implemented. The Working Group would meet and report to the Thirty-second Session of the Conference on the state of progress made.
32. The Council also noted the need to concurrently take further concrete measures in redressing the under-representation of certain Member Nations, irrespective of the methodology adopted and that the Secretariat would report to the Finance Committee on this matter at its next session.
33. The Council re-affirmed the principle endorsed at its Hundred and Twenty-third Session that the approved Programme of Work and Budget should be protected from the effects of fluctuating exchange rates. The Council considered Split Assessments to be an appropriate means for providing this protection, recalling the recommendation of external experts KPMG, and including FAO’s Investment Advisory Committee and the External Auditor (i.e. Cour des Comptes), but recognized that some Members had difficulties with specific modalities. The Council noted the importance of reaching a consensus decision on this topic at the Thirty-second Session of the Conference, and urged all concerned to work together towards this aim.
34. The Council endorsed the recommendation of the Finance Committee to establish a Capital Expenditure facility, and agreed to transmit the following draft resolution to the Conference:
Noting the recommendations of external experts and of the JIU that the Organization should introduce capital budgeting;
Recognizing the desirability of integrating capital expending planning into the existing planning framework;
Recalling that the Finance Committee, at its Hundred and fourth Session held from 15 to 19 September 2003, “endorsed for consideration by the Council the establishment of a Capital Expenditures Facility” and “also endorsed the draft text of the proposed Financial Regulation 6.10 …, for submission through the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters to the Council”;
Considering that the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters, at its Seventy-fifth Session held on 6 and 7 October 2003, reviewed the proposed amendments to Financial Regulation VI;
Noting that the Council, at its Hundred and Twenty-fifth Session held from 26 to
28 November 2003, agreed to transmit to the Conference, for its approval, the proposed amendments to Financial Regulation VI;
“6.10 There shall be established:
35. The Council noted that, in accordance with Financial Regulation 4.5, the Finance Committee had reviewed and approved the Director-General’s proposals for Programme and Budgetary Transfers in the 2002-03 biennium.
36. The Council noted that the Finance Committee had endorsed the views of the Director-General on the various JIU recommendations regarding:
37. The Council noted that the Finance Committee considered that the current arrangements for funding After-Service Medical Costs (ASMC) liabilities were clearly insufficient and that the issue needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The Council endorsed the Finance Committee’s recommendation that the 2004-2005 Budget Resolution include an amount of US$14.1 million to offset the amount of the liability to be amortized during the biennium, according to the biennial actuarial valuation, and that this amount should be reviewed in each subsequent biennium and adjusted accordingly to reflect the current valuation.
38. The Council considered and adopted the Report of the Seventy-fifth Session of the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters (CCLM).
39. The Council approved the proposed Agreement with the International Office of Epizootics (OIE), attached to this Report as Appendix D, and recommended its transmission to the Conference for confirmation.
40. The Council approved the proposed Cooperation Agreement with the International Organisation for the Development of Fisheries in Eastern and Central Europe (EUROFISH), attached to this Report as Appendix E, and recommended its transmission to the Conference for confirmation.
41. The Council agreed to the proposed revised version of Article VII.1 of the Constitution as well as to the relevant draft Conference Resolution, attached to this Report as Appendix F, and recommended its transmission to the Conference.
42. The Council approved the proposed amendment to Financial Regulation VI, as set out in this Report as Appendix G and recommended its submission to the Conference for consideration and adoption.
43. The Council decided to consider these two issues under Item 8, Report of the Hundred and Fourth and Hundred and Fifth Sessions of the Finance Committee.
44. The Council took note that the issue was under active consideration in the United Nations System and supported the CCLM recommendation that the Organization follow closely the discussion within the System with a view to reaching a common position in that regard.
45. In accordance with paragraphs B-1 and B-2 of the “Statement of Principles relating to the Granting of Observer Status to Nations”13, the Council agreed that the Russian Federation attend its Session as an observer.
46. The Council was informed of the applications of the Federated States of Micronesia, Timor Leste, Tuvalu and Ukraine.
47. The Council noted that the issue of the composition of the Finance Committee had been under consideration for the past two years, at the initiative of the Asia Group, and that a range of different opinions had been reviewed in that connection. In particular, the Council recalled that, at its Hundred and Twenty-fourth Session in June 2003, it had noted that the Asia Group could continue to hold consultations with the other Regional Groups to further advance the issue. As a result of such consultations, the Asia Group submitted to the Council a request for the addition of an item to the Provisional Agenda, together with a proposal to amend Rule XXVII, paragraph 1 of the General Rules of the Organization to provide for an increase in the Membership of the Finance Committee from nine to eleven Members and to change the election formula set out in Rule XXVII, paragraph 3, sub-paragraph (c) of that Rule.
48. The Council supported the proposed amendment as a means of ensuring fair and equitable representation of the regions in the Finance Committee. The Council further endorsed the proposal that the revised provisions of Rule XXVII of the General Rules of the Organization should apply to the elections to the Finance Committee to be held at its Hundred and Twenty-sixth Session for the 2004-2005 biennium.
49. Having noted that the proposal involved the adoption of a Resolution by the Conference amending the General Rules of the Organization, the Council agreed to transmit the following draft resolution to the Conference:
Having noted that, at its Hundred and Twenty-second Session, held on 14 November 2001, the Council agreed to discuss the issue of the representation of different regions on the Programme and Finance Committees;
Recalling that the Council, at its Hundred and Twenty-third Session, held from 28 October to 1 November 2002, in connection with the consideration of the Report of the Seventy-fourth Session of the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters, agreed that Regional Groups should consult and report to it at its Session of June 2003;
Considering that the Council, at its Hundred and Twenty-fourth Session, held from 23 to 28 June 2003, noted that consultations would continue with the other Regional Groups to further advance the issue;
Considering further that the Council, at its Hundred and Twenty-fifth Session, held from 26 to 28 November 2003, endorsed a proposal to amend Rule XXVII, paragraphs 1 and 3(c) of the General Rules of the Organization and recommended its adoption to the Conference as a step towards more equitable representation of the various Regional Groups within the Finance Committee;
1. Decides that Rule XXVII, paragraph 1 of the General Rules of the Organization shall be amended to read as follows:
“The Finance Committee provided for in paragraph 6 of Article V of the Constitution shall be composed of representatives of eleven Member Nations of the Organization. Such Member Nations shall be elected by the Council in accordance with the procedure set forth in paragraph 3 of this Rule. Members of the Committee shall appoint as their representatives individuals who have shown a continued interest in the objectives and activities of the Organization, have participated in Conference or Council Sessions and have special competence and experience in administrative and financial matters. Members of the Committee shall be elected for a period of two years at the Session of the Council immediately following the regular Session of the Conference. They shall be eligible for reappointment”.
2. Decides that Rule XXVII, paragraph 3 (c) of the General Rules of the Organization shall be amended to read as follows:
“After the election referred to in sub-paragraph (b) above, the Council shall proceed to the election of the other Members of the Committee, in two stages, making the necessary adjustments to take into account the Member Nation of which the Chairman is a national and the region to which that Member Nations belongs:
- the first stage shall be to elect seven Members from the following Regions: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Near East, and Latin America and the Caribbean;
- the second stage shall be to elect four Members from the following Regions: Europe, North America, and Southwest Pacific”.
(Adopted on ... December 2003)
50. In connection with the application of the revised provisions to the forthcoming election to the Finance Committee, the Council noted that Rule XXVII, paragraph 2 of the General Rules of the Organization required that nominations for the election to the Finance Committee should be submitted to the Secretary-General of the Conference and Council not later than ten days before the opening date of the Council session at which the election is to be held. The Council noted further that such deadline was on 29 November 2003 and that, consequently, in order to allow for consultation among Regional Groups prior to the elections under revised XXVII of the General Rules of the Organization, it would be necessary to suspend Rule XXVII, paragraph 2 of the General Rules of the Organization. Accordingly, the Council recommended to the Conference that the adoption of the above resolution be followed by a decision to suspend Rule XXVII, paragraph 2 of the General Rules of the Organization only with regard to nominations for election to the Finance Committee, in accordance with Rule XLVIII, paragraph 1 of those Rules. The Conference would therefore set the new deadline for the submission of nominations to the Finance Committee.
51. While considering the Revised Calendar of FAO Governing Bodies and Other Main Sessions 2003-04 (Appendix H), which was submitted to the Council for information, the Council took note that its Hundred and Twenty-sixth Session would be held in Rome on 11 December 2003.
1 CL 125/1; CL 125/1-Add.1; CL 125/INF/1; CL 125/INF/6; CL 125/PV/1; CL 125/PV/6.
2 CL 125/INF/9; CL 125/PV/1; CL 125/PV/6.
3 CL 125/6; CL 125/PV/1; CL 125/PV/6.
4 C 2003/12; C 2003/12-Sup.1; CL 125/PV/1;CL 125/PV/4; CL 125/PV/6.
5 C 2003/3; C 2003/3-Corr.1 (Spanish only); CL 125/12; CL 125/12 Corr.1 (Arabic, Spanish only); CL 125/INF/19; CL 125/10; CL 125/PV/3; CL 125/PV/4; CL 125/PV/6.
6 CL 125/2; CL 125/PV/2; CL 125/PV/6.
7 CL 125/3; CL 125/PV/2; CL 125/PV/6.
8 CL 125/4; CL 125/4-Corr.1 (Arabic, French and Spanish only); CL 125/11; CL 125/PV/2; CL 125/PV/6.
9 CL 125/LIM/1.
10 CL 124/15 - Add.1.
11 CL 125/5; CL 125/5-Rev.1 (French only); CL 125/5-Corr.1 (Arabic only); CL 125/PV/2; CL 125/PV/6.
12 CL 125/PV/1; CL 125/PV/6.
13 See FAO Basic Texts, Volume II, Section L (Appendix).
14 C 2003/10; CL 125/PV/4; CL 125/PV/6.
15 CL 125/1-Add.1; CL 125/INF/20; CL 125/PV/4; CL 125/PV/6.
16 CL 125/INF/8; CL 125/PV/4; CL 125/PV/6.