167. The Council recalled that, at its Hundred and Fourth Session (Rome, 2-5 November 1993) it had "requested that, in due course, the CCLM review the provisions of Article XIV of the Constitution concerning the acceptance of agreements concluded thereunder in order to determine whether these provisions should not be enlarged to include other forms of adherence to such agreements".
168. The Council noted that the Committee had reviewed the relevant provisions of the FAO Constitution, the General Rules of the Organization and Part R of the Basic Texts, as well as the practice of the Organization.
169. The Council endorsed the Committee's conclusion that a wide range of possibilities was provided for in the Constitution and General Rules of the Organization, as well as in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969), although this had not always been fully exploited in practice. Consequently, the need did not exist to enlarge the provisions of the Basic Texts to include other forms of adherence to such agreements and conventions, for example, signature and ratification rather than the single act of acceptance. The choice of the most appropriate method of expressing consent to be bound should continue to be left to future parties to agreements and conventions concluded under Article XIV in each individual case.
170. In this connection, the Council noted that, in future, it would be brought to the attention of all meetings for the adoption of agreements under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution that the preceding possibilities were open to them in determining the appropriate method of expressing consent to be bound in respect of any given agreement.
171. The Council recalled that the CCLM had held a preliminary discussion on this matter at its Sixty-second Session but deferred consideration of the substantive aspects until its Sixty-third Session.
172. The matter first arose when the Council had considered the draft Agreement for the Establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission in November 1993. At that time a number of countries expressed concern over what they perceived to be a "double voice" for the EC and its Member States inherent in the wording of Article IV of the Agreement. The Council had referred the matter to the CCLM for study in its wider perspective in similar situations in the Organization as a whole.
173. The Council noted further that at its Sixty-third Session, the CCLM had concluded that the basic issue was already well covered in the relevant provisions of the Basic Texts, as supplemented by the Declaration of Competence lodged by the EC and its Member States at the time of admission to FAO. Thus, in the view of the CCLM, there could be no question of a "double voice" or "double vote".
174. Consequently, the Committee had recommended that the Council adopt the guidelines set forth in paragraph 12, Sections A and B of the Report of its Sixty-third Session. Thus, for general meetings of the Organization, Member States of a Member Organization possessing dependent territories outside the geographical scope of the transfer of competence would be entitled to participate in the discussions on behalf of those territories and to represent their interests even if the Agenda item under discussion fell within the exclusive competence of the Member Organization. However, such participation must respect the provisions of Article II. 10 of the Constitution and Rule XLI.2 of the General Rules of the Organization, which precluded the possibility of a double vote. The Member States concerned should identify clearly that they were speaking on behalf of their territories lying outside the geographical scope of the Treaty of Rome, and should address only aspects of the question raised for which there was a special interest of the territories concerned which differed from the position taken by the EC.
175. With regard to agreements under Article XIV, the Committee had recommended that each agreement should set its own criteria and terms and conditions for participation by such Member States in accordance with the provisions of Article XIV. Where agreements fell within the exclusive competence of a Member Organization, participation by their Member States should be limited to participation on behalf of those territories and to representing the interests of those territories. The question of voting rights should be decided on a case-by-case basis.
176. The Council noted the guidelines which had been recommended by the CCLM in paragraph 12 of the Report of its Sixty-third Session and the clarification by the Legal Counsel that, in the case of agreements under Article XIV, deciding the question of voting rights on a case-by-case basis meant deciding the question in respect of each agreement in accordance with the provisions of Article XIV.
177. The Council expressed its appreciation for the very thorough work which the Committee had carried out in seeking to define the guidelines for participation of Member States of a Member Organization and the Member Organization itself, possessing overseas territories outside the geographical scope of the transfer of competence. The Council noted that, there was consensus on the proposed guidelines for general meetings of FAO, and that there did not seem to be any problem for participation in agreements under Article XIV of the Constitution in cases where the Member Organization and its Member States shared mixed competence. In this latter case, the rights of participation and voting rights would normally be decided on the same basis as for general meetings of the Organization. The only problems that remained concerned agreements where exclusive competence lay with the Member Organization, but Member States still wished to participate on behalf of their overseas territories that were outside the geographical scope of the transfer of competence to the Member Organization. For such cases, a number of members considered that further clarification of the matter was required.
178. As a result, the Council requested the CCLM to take up the question once again and prepare new guidelines with regard to participation in agreements established under Article XIV of the Constitution which would clarify this matter.
179. The Council recalled that the CCLM, bearing in mind the provisions of Article XVIII.6 of the FAO Constitution, had reviewed the methodology recommended by the Finance Committee at its Seventy-seventh Session in September 1993. In so doing, it had recalled that several members
had expressed the view that this methodology would be incompatible with Article XVIII.6. Thus, the matter had been referred to the CCLM for consideration.
180. The Council noted that the detailed opinion of the CCLM was set forth in paragraph 18 of the Report of its Sixty-second Session. The CCLM had reached the conclusion that the methodology proposed by the Finance Committee was not incompatible with Article XVIII.6 of the FAO Constitution.
181. The attention of the Council was drawn to the fact that the Finance Committee had recommended subsequently that in future the sum to be paid by Member Organizations to cover administrative and other expenses arising out of their membership should be set as a lump sum.
182. The Council took note of the conclusions of the CCLM and expressed its support for the recommendation of the Finance Committee cited above.
183. The Council recalled that, following the imposition of the "6 per mille" tax on bank accounts of FAO staff, the Finance Committee had considered the matter in September 1993 and the CCLM had noted the proposed scheme for recovery at its Sixty-first Session in October 1993. The matter had also been reviewed by the Council at its Hundred and Fourth Session in November 1993.
184. Subsequently, the Italian Government had been seized of the question and was now seeking a pragmatic solution thereto. It was hoped that the matter would be resolved soon to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. Since that time, the matter had been considered by the Finance Committee at its Seventy-ninth Session in September 1994.
185. The Council took note of the present position on the subject and expressed its gratitude to the Italian authorities for their efforts in seeking a satisfactory solution. The Council noted further that, in the meantime the Director-General might have to take measures to reimburse staff for the tax paid. The matter of reimbursement to the Organization by the Italian Government was a separate matter on which consultations should continue between the parties involved with a view to reaching a pragmatic solution. The Finance Committee should be kept informed of further progress on the matter.
186. The Council recalled that the Indo-Pacific Fishery Commission had first been established in 1948 and that the Agreement establishing the Commission had been amended on several occasions to broaden the scope of its activities in order to take account of changing situations and requirements.
187. The Council noted that the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) had recommended in 1989 that the IPFC undertake an in-depth review of its functions and structure with a view to strengthening its activities in the technical and policy fields. This review had been carried out and new objectives and a new orientation had been proposed which would require amending the Agreement to allow for greater flexibility and evaluation of the activities of the Commission in future. In particular, activities would henceforth be concentrated in the Asia-Pacific area. A number of amendments to this effect had been approved by the Commission at its Twenty-fourth session one year before.
188. The Council noted further that the CCLM had reviewed the matter and had concluded that the proposed amendments were acceptable from a legal point of view. It had recommended that the Council express its concurrence with these amendments. Consequently, the amendments would not require approval by the Conference and would take effect immediately.
189. The Council concurred with the proposed amendments as set forth in Appendix G to this Report.
190. The Council recalled that at its Hundred and Sixth Session (Rome, 30 May - 1 June 1994), exercising the powers conferred on it under Conference Resolution 10/93, it had approved the progressive establishment of a cadre of National Professional Officers (NPOs) in country representation offices and considered it to be a cost-effective and potentially important contribution to national capacity-building. The Council had noted that the proposal would be implemented along the lines of specific rules already used in the UN system.
191. In accordance with the criteria for the employment of NPOs which had been reviewed and updated by the International Civil Service Commission at its Fortieth Session (Appendix H to this Report), the Council was provided with the policy framework for the introduction of the new NPO category in the Organization, and with the applicable terms and conditions of employment (Appendix H).
192. The Director-General also recommended that Staff Regulation 301.136 should be amended to include the words "National Professional Officers", while underlining the need to preserve the universal character and independence of the International Civil Service.
193. The Council noted that at its Seventy-ninth Session the Finance Committee had endorsed the proposed framework for the introduction of the new NPO category and had no objections to amending the Staff Regulation as proposed. It further noted that at its Sixty-third Session, the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters had concluded that it would be legally correct to amend Staff Regulation 301.136 as proposed.
194. Some members expressed concern with some of the procedures for recruitment of NPOs. In particular, they queried whether it might not be more efficient and cost-effective to carry out the selection procedure locally rather than at Headquarters. A proposal could then be made to Headquarters for final decision.
195. The Council underlined the importance of transparency and cost effectiveness in the selection procedure. Bearing in mind the advice of the CCLM and of the Finance Committee, the Council approved the proposed framework for the progressive establishment of a cadre of National Professional Officers (NPOs) as well as the terms and conditions of service proposed thereto. Consequently, the Council, as provided for in Rules XXIV.3 (j) and XXXIX.3 of the General Rules of the Organization, approved the proposed amendment to Staff Regulation 301.136 which would read henceforth as follows (addition underlined):
"Other personnel: The Director-General shall determine the salary rates and the terms and conditions of employment applicable to personnel specifically engaged for Conference and other short-term services or for service with a mission, to Associate Professional Officers, to part-time personnel, to consultants, to field project personnel, to National Professional Officers and to personnel locally recruited for service in established offices away from Headquarters."
196. The Council recalled that the Conference, at its Twenty-seventh Session in November 1993, had requested the Director-General to review the Working Methods of the Conference and report to the present session of the Council. This request had been made against the background of a Conference decision that the following session of the Conference should preferably not exceed two weeks in duration.
197. In response to this request, the Council had before it the Director-General's Review of the Working Methods of the Conference,9 which recalled briefly the present Working Methods of the Conference, indicated areas in which changes might be contemplated with a view to improving the efficiency of Conference sessions while reducing both time and costs involved, and made certain proposals for consideration by the Council.
198. The Council welcomed the Director-General's Review and endorsed generally the proposals made therein. These were as follows:
a) that future sessions of the Conference should be scheduled for a period not to exceed two weeks;
b) that Member Nations should unite in the aim of keeping the agenda of future Conferences to the absolute minimum, containing only those matters for which action by the Conference, as opposed to the Council, was absolutely required. Sub-items should be avoided wherever possible;
c) that the present structure of the Conference should be maintained;
d) that, in view of the scope and nature of country statements made by Heads of Delegations in Plenary in the first week, the statutory Agenda item on the State of Food and Agriculture should be considered by the Plenary rather than by Commission I and that in their statements, delegations should be invited to focus on the main topics covered by that Agenda item. Where delegations wished to make broader statements, they should be encouraged to provide written texts in advance, for distribution, or for insertion in the verbatim records;
e) that all foreseen votes should be scheduled during the first week of the Conference, for the benefit of Member Nations which could find it difficult to maintain full delegations through the entire Conference period. The votes on the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) and on the elections of the Council Members and Chairman of the Council could be scheduled for the Saturday at the end of the first week, in view of the need for adequate time for debate, in the former case, and for the statutory nominations and election procedures, in the latter case;
f) that introductions of items by the Secretariat should be restricted to introducing new information not contained in the documents or stressing salient points for decision by the Conference. Documentation should similarly be kept as short as possible and be focused on the salient points for decision and supporting information;
g) that verbatim records should continue to be kept, in view of their value in documenting the debate in the Conference and obviating the need for oral delivery of some statements;
h) that, in view of the shorter duration envisaged and the need to streamline procedures and debate in the actual Conference session, greater emphasis should be placed on preparing items for decision. This preparatory work should take the following forms: i) to encourage the Council to take final decisions on all questions that lie within its
competence and to refrain from referring such matters to the Conference; ii) in those instances where the Council or appropriate Ministerial meetings have examined the subject beforehand, to present all draft decisions to be taken by the Conference in a format ready for approval; iii) to schedule informal meetings of Permanent Representatives well before the Conference session to discuss major substantive and procedural subjects on the Agenda of the Conference, with a view to promoting consensus on those items; and iv) to encourage Member Nations to consider such questions as the nomination of candidates for elections well in advance of the Conference, in view of the shorter time limits available for the nomination and election process.10
199. In generally endorsing the Director-General's proposals, the Council stressed that the present reforms of the Working Methods of the Conference must be viewed only as part of a continuing process to improve both cost-efficiency and the effectiveness of the Governing Bodies of the Organization. In welcoming the proposals to improve cost-effectiveness, the Council stressed that these should not impair the important role of the Conference as the supreme Governing Body of the Organization and the only forum in which all Members of the Organization could exchange views with respect to important global issues of food and agriculture.
200. In this context, the Council noted that the duration of the Conference session was ultimately a function of the Agenda on which the Conference would operate. Members of the Organization should be given ample opportunity to consider the provisional agenda prior to the Conference session. It was suggested that additional savings could be achieved by starting the Conference on a Monday rather than on a Saturday, thus avoiding delegations having to spend an extra two days in Rome.
201. As to the structure and Working Methods of the Conference, the Council agreed that steps should be taken to avoid duplication between the work of the Plenary and the Commissions, as well as between the individual Commissions themselves. In general, the work of the Commissions should not take up more than five days each. Statements in the first meetings of the Plenary should preferably focus on topics related to the State of Food and Agriculture, rather than on descriptions of national policies and developments in food and agriculture, although the value of national statements in general was fully recognized. A further suggestion was made to eliminate all information items from the agenda of the Conference, while allowing Members the opportunity to take up matters arising out of information documents informally.
202. The Council welcomed the proposal to hold informal meetings of Permanent Representatives before the Conference session to discuss substantive and procedural matters with a view to promoting consensus on these matters. However, it was noted that not all countries had Permanent Representations in Rome, and that care should be taken to disseminate the outcome of such meetings to all members well in advance of the Conference session.
203. The need to ensure that all documents for the Conference were circulated in a timely manner well in advance of Conference sessions was also stressed by the Council.
204. Finally, the Council urged all parties concerned, including the Director-General and Members of the Organization, to seek further measures to improve the efficiency of the work of the Conference and to ensure that its debates were conducted in a business-like, flexible and participatory manner.
205. The Council recalled that the main provisions in the Basic Texts dealing with arrears were Article III.4 of the Constitution regarding loss of voting rights in the Conference, and paragraphs 5 and 7 of Rule XXII of the General Rules of the Organization (GRO) regarding participation in the Council. It noted that the sanctions contained in paragraphs 5 and 7 of Rule XXII GRO were automatic. On the other hand, Article III.4 of the Constitution allowed for the restoration of voting rights where the failure to pay was due to conditions beyond the control of the Member Nation.
206. The Council recalled that the issue of the voting rights procedures and practices at Conference sessions had arisen out of a request by the Twenty-seventh Session of the Conference in November 1993 that the Finance Committee and the Council address the issue of the procedures and practices currently followed by the Organization for restoring the voting rights of Member Nations in arrears of assessed contributions and report their findings to the Twenty-eighth Session of the Conference in 1995. Particular concern had been expressed by the Conference over the practice of restoring voting rights on the basis of agreed plans for the payment of arrears by instalments and the need to review the application of Article III.4 both in general and with a view to defining the criteria to be applied in assessing and determining the conditions deemed to be "beyond the control" of a Member Nation, in terms of that Article.
207. The Council expressed great concern over the deterioration in the situation with respect to the payment of arrears, and agreed that action was required in order to redress the situation. It considered that such action should take the form of taking a more restrictive approach to the restoration of voting rights envisaged in Article III.4 of the Constitution.
208. In this connection, the Council, having reviewed the conclusions reached by the Finance Committee, made the following recommendations to the Conference:
a) voting rights should continue to be restored where default in the payment of arrears was due to "conditions beyond the control of the Member Nation concerned";
b) the criteria for what constitutes "conditions beyond the control of the Member Nation concerned" were very difficult to define formally and fixed definitions could present complications. Accordingly, while keeping in mind the broad parameters of what might constitute such conditions, voting rights should be restored only in exceptional cases, and only on the basis of a formal request by the Member Nation concerned, specifying the circumstances that in its view constituted "conditions beyond its control";
c) the practice of requiring agreed instalment plans for the payment of arrears should be continued, agreed instalment plans should be required as part of the application for restoration of voting rights, and voting rights should be lost again if the Member Nation defaulted on two instalments;
d) the scope of the methodology for the calculation of arrears should not be expanded to include payments to the Working Capital Fund, Special Reserve Account or Tax Equalization Fund, nor should any changes be made to the period over which the arrears should be calculated; and
e) the Director-General should continue to search for sustainable schemes that would respond to the particular problems of developing countries without endangering the financial viability of the Organization and taking into account the experience of other UN organizations in this field.
209. The Council made a general appeal to all Member Nations to pay their budgetary contributions in a timely manner in the future.
210. The Council was informed of the applications for membership received from the Azerbaijani Republic and the Republic of Georgia.
211. Pending a decision by the Conference on these applications and pursuant to Rule XXV.11 of the General Rules of the Organization and paragraphs B-l, B-2, and B-5 of the "Statement of Principles relating to the Granting of Observer Status to Nations", the Council authorized the Director-General to invite the Azerbaijani Republic and the Republic of Georgia to participate, in an observer capacity, in appropriate Council meetings as well as regional and technical meetings of the Organization of interest to them.
212. In accordance with paragraph B-l of the "Statement of Principles relating to the Granting of Observer Status to Nations",14 the Council considered the requests made by the Russian Federation, the Republic of Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia to attend as observers the Hundred and Seventh Session of the Council and agreed to their participation.
213. In accordance with paragraph B-2 of the aforementioned Statement of Principles, the Council was informed that since its Hundred and Sixth Session, the Director-General, on being so requested, had extended invitations to the following Non-Member Nations to attend as observers the sessions listed below:
Technical Consultation on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing, Rome, 26 September -5 October 1994 (FI-824).
Extraordinary Session of the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources, Rome, 7-11 November 1994 (AGP-725).
UkraineEighteenth Session of the International Rice Commission, Rome, 5-9 September 1994 (AGP-723).
214. As provided for in Rule XXVI-4 (a) of the General Rules of the Organization (GRO), the Council was advised that Mr Nasreddine Rimouche, Counsellor and Alternate Permanent Representative to FAO, had replaced Ms Amina Boudjelti as the Representative of Algeria on the Programme Committee, as of the Seventieth Session.
215. The Council was also informed that Mr Atul Sinha, Minister (Agriculture) and Alternate Permanent Representative designate to FAO, had been designated as the new Representative of India on the Programme Committee, as of the Seventieth Session. Given that Mr Sinha was unable to attend that session, however, the Council was informed that Mr H. Viswanathan, Deputy Chief of Mission, had replaced him on that occasion.
216. As provided for in Rule XXVII-4 (a) GRO, the Council was advised that Mr Thomas A. Forbord, Permanent Representative designate to FAO, had been designated as the new Representative of the United States of America on the Finance Committee, as of the Seventy-ninth Session.
217. The Council took note of the changes, welcomed the new members and thanked the outgoing ones for their valuable services.
1 CL 107/5; CL 107/15; CL 107/PV/9; CL 107/PV/13.
2 CL 107/5, paras 5-10.
3 CL 107/15, paras 10-13.
4 CL 107/5, paras 12-19.
5 CL 107/5, paras 20-26.
6 CL 107/5, para. 27.
7 CL 107/4, paras 3.85-3.94; CL 107/15, paras 14-26; CL 107/PV/9; CL 107/PV/13.
8 CL 107/3; CL 107/3-Sup.l-Rev; CL 107/PV/ll; CL 107/PV/13.
9 Doc. CL 107/3.
10 Under Rule XXII. 10 of the General Rules of the Organization (GRO), the Conference is required to set the deadline for the receipt of nominations; valid nominations for election to the Council must be communicated to the Conference by the General Committee at least three working days before the date selected for the election.
11 CL 107/4, paras 3.56-3.64; CL 107/PV/10; CL 107/PV/13.
12 CL 107/19-Sup.l;CL 107/PV/l; CL 107/PV/13.
13 CL 107/PV/l; CL 107/PV/13.
14 See FAO Basic Texts, Volume II, Section L (Appendix).
15 CL 107/INF/10; CL 107/PV/12; CL 107/PV/13.