160. An outcome of the process of reflection and analysis which has led to these reform proposals, but which would require further discussion among Members, relates to the opportunities for streamlining of governance structures, statutory bodies, commissions and committees. A great deal has already been accomplished in this area through implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97 and subsequent work in the Joint Meetings of the Programme and Finance Committees on Savings and Efficiencies in Governance.
161. Within the framework of a modernizing organization, Member Nations may wish to consider further what changes could be envisaged in the governance structures, statutory bodies, commissions and committees, with a view to making them more effective and efficient while being responsive to the needs of the Members themselves, and enabling them to better oversee the work of the Organization. Suggestions are made below, for the consideration of Members, concerning ways in which these could be streamlined, and yet strengthened, and how Members could be more involved in their work. The possibility of establishing, abolishing or modifying aspects of a particular body depends on the legal framework under which the body has been established.
162. These committees report to the Council and they are listed in the Constitution. Any amendments, including the number and names of these committees would require a change in the Constitution. Under Article XX of the Constitution, the Director-General is obliged to notify Member Nations at least 120 days before the opening of the Conference of any proposals for amendments. These are not, therefore, formal proposals, but suggestions offered for Members’ consideration.
163. The work of the Programme and Finance Committees (PC/FC) has increased significantly in the recent past due to increasing demand; and therefore so has the length of the agenda. The practice of holding meetings of these committees back-to-back, and with a joint meeting, continues to save costs for individual Members and for the Organization, and it ensures coherence. However the length of the agenda might not always allow in-depth discussion of each item. The Committees might therefore consider limiting the number of discussion items at each session to allow for full treatment of the issues at hand.
164. The Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters (CCLM) meets on as-needed basis; and therefore has embedded flexibility consistent with modern governance.
165. The Committee on Fisheries (COFI) and the Committee on Forestry (COFO) meet once each biennium. The recent practice of holding COFI and COFO meetings back-to-back, coupled with a reduction in the number of meeting days to four for each Committee is saving costs and should be maintained. Consideration should be given to:
166. The possibility is already under discussion by the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees on a possible merger of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) and the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP), and it is therefore necessary to await the outcome of this consideration of alternative arrangements. However, more generally, for the committees of the Council, as well as the Conference and Council, consideration should be given, in the light of technology development, to reducing printing and manual distribution of documents for the meetings.
167. It is also recommended that the documents currently produced and dispatched by mail before the meetings should rather be posted on the FAO Web site page for the relevant meeting, and notification sent to the main addressees in each country as well as the Members’ Permanent Representatives to FAO, where appropriate, informing them of the posting of the relevant document for in-country downloading and eventual printing. Limited resources could be made available to certain countries to assist them in using this facility in-country. Should the governing bodies agree to this proposal, the option would remain for the countries who wish to do so, and inform the Secretariat accordingly, to continue receiving hard copies downloaded by the FAO Representation in the country. Limited printing facilities could continue during the meeting itself.
168. These are established under Article VI of the Constitution by the Conference or the Council, or by the Director-General (on the authority of the Conference or Council). The reporting mechanisms as well as the terms of reference are decided at the time of the establishment of the commission or committee. Rules of procedures and amendments are decided by the commissions/committees themselves, and come into effect upon the approval of the Director-General. The list can be found on the FAO Web site at: http://www.fao.org/unfao/govbodies.
169. The Secretariat is reviewing the functions of the bodies and their working methods and reporting mechanisms with a view to proposing measures to:
170. The Secretariat would also strengthen its support to the various Commissions on an as-needed basis, so that FAO assistance is demand-driven.
171. In terms of reporting, some of these bodies report to the Council, others to the committees of the Council, and still others to the Director-General. Consideration should be given to strengthening the link between the Regional Commissions on sectoral issues in particular (such as those in forestry, fisheries and animal health) and the Committees of the Council that cover those sectors (COFO, COFI, COAG, etc), including through reporting to those Committees.
172. FAO’s Regional Commissions should be encouraged to deepen synergies with the Regional Economic Integration Organizations, most of which have sectoral coordination mechanisms, including sectoral Ministerial level meetings. The Regional Commissions could have their meetings back-to-back with the relevant organization’s meetings.
173. Like the committees of the Council, these commissions and committees should be encouraged to utilise, to the extent possible, modern methods of communication, including electronic document distribution. In addition, consideration should be given to video-conferencing, particularly where panels of experts consist of only a few members.
174. According to Resolution 13/97 adopted at the 29th session of the FAO Conference in November 1997, “regional commissions … should seek extra-budgetary resources to supplement the resources made available under the FAO Regular Programme budget taking into account the economic capacity of the regions concerned and of their Members.” This appears to be equally relevant at the present time, and further efforts towards soliciting or making voluntary contributions to the work of these commissions should be encouraged.
175. Bodies constituted under Article VI of the Constitution with a potential for transformation into financially-autonomous bodies, should be encouraged to reconstitute themselves as Article XIV bodies.
176. In the case of the FAO Regional Conferences, the Secretariat is already implementing improved procedures for their organization and conduct with a view to making them more effective and more relevant to the Members in the region, including through:
177. These bodies are established by conventions or agreements approved by the Conference or the Council on the basis of a proposal by a technical meeting or conference and referred to Member Nations concerned for acceptance. Terms of reference, rules of procedure and amendments are approved by the Parties as provided for in the convention or agreement.
178. There are three types of such bodies, according to their financing:
179. The Secretariat would suggest the adoption of the following general guidelines regarding these bodies: