Hundred and Seventeenth Session
Rome, 9-11 November 1999
NOTE ON THE METHODS OF WORK OF THE COUNCIL
The text of this Note was adopted by the Council at its Sixtieth Session in June 1973 1.
FUNCTIONS OF THE COUNCIL
1. The Council should concentrate on general policy issues pertaining to the achievement of the objectives and functions, spelled out in the Preamble and Article I of the FAO Constitution.
1.1 The Council should in particular focus on those of its functions relating to the general policy of the Organization, as set out in Rule XXIV of the General Rules of the Organization (GRO), and in particular:
a) the world food and agricultural situation;
b) FAO's Programme of Work and Budget;
c) extra-budgetary activities of the Organization, normally by means of a separate agenda item for this purpose.
1.2 The Council should periodically carry out a multidisciplinary evaluation of the activities of the Organization in each area of the Programme of Work and Budget, including the extra-budgetary activities related thereto, on the basis of reports from its appropriate subsidiary bodies.
1.3 The Council should delegate authority to the Programme and Finance Committee as might be necessary.
1.4 In reviewing the activities of its subsidiary bodies, the Council should ensure that:
a) they give the necessary attention to the matters falling within their respective mandates;
b) they do not duplicate each other's work; and
c) their discussions are not repeated in the Council, except when this is necessary to enable a decision to be reached.
1.5 Except for the sessions which immediately follow a Conference session, the Council normally should establish a Committee-of-the-Whole to deal with administrative (including financial), constitutional and legal matters. However, on advance recommendation of the Independent Chairman, the Council may decide that such a Committee need not be established.
FACILITATION OF DISCUSSION
2. The following measures should be adopted to streamline the Council's procedures, and to make the maximum use of the time at its disposal.
2.1 In addition to the provisional agenda, the Secretariat should also issue a provisional annotated agenda in which it should indicate which items are expected to be:
a) those for discussion and/or decision by the Council;
b) those for information only.
The agenda should not be splintered in such a manner as to cause overlapping of discussions.
2.2 Subject to compliance with the first sentence of Section 3 below, any Council member who wishes to open a discussion on an item presented for information only, should inform the Secretary-General as soon as possible, and in any case before the meeting at which that item is scheduled (see also para. 3.4 below).
2.3 In respect of items on which a decision is required (para. 2.1 (a) above), the Chairman, if preliminary debate indicates that there is likely to be difficulty in reaching agreement, should suspend the debate and allow for informal consultations or set up a sessional working party to examine the matter and make recommendations to the Plenary. A similar procedure should be adopted when necessary by the Chairman of the Committee-of-the-Whole, in consultation with the Chairman of the Council.
2.4 With the exception of the provisions of paragraph 2.3 above, debate on any item should normally be completed before debate on the next item begins.
3. Documents for Council sessions should be issued in sufficient time for Member Nations to examine them before the session, and in a form that shall facilitate the Council's consideration.
3.1 Unless the timing of the sessions of the bodies concerned makes it impossible, all documents (other than the summary of the proposed Programme of Work and Budget, as provided in paragraph 4.1 below) should be dispatched at least two months before the opening of the session in question.
3.2 Sessions of other bodies whose reports must be considered by the Council should, as far as possible, be held in sufficient time to meet the deadline in paragraph 3.1 above.
3.3 To facilitate the classification in paragraph 2.1 above, all reports of subsidiary bodies and other documents should be prefaced by a list of points requiring the Council's consideration, and where appropriate by a summary.
3.4 The points requiring the Council's decision should be divided into:
a) those where a subsidiary body has made recommendation(s) for endorsing by the Council;
b) those on which no decision has been reached, and on which a decision by the Council is required.
In respect of a), there should be no discussion in the Council unless a member desires clarification or amendments to a subsidiary body's recommendation, in which case he should inform the Secretariat in advance of the meeting, as provided in paragraph 2.2 above.
3.5 Reports of subsidiary bodies and other documents which do not contain points requiring the Council's consideration and/or decision should be presented for information only.
3.6 Reports of subsidiary bodies should, where appropriate, include a section on FAO's extra-budgetary activities in their respective fields.
PROGRAMME OF WORK AND BUDGET
4. The Council should comment more effectively on the draft Programme of Work and Budget.
4.1 A summary of the proposed Programme of Work and Budget should be circulated to Member Nations not less than three months before the opening of the first Council session in the Conference year.
4.2 Member Nations may submit comments in writing for circulation as "limited" documents at the beginning of the Council session. Such comments must reach the Secretariat not less than one month before the opening of the session.
4.3 The Council should discuss the summary draft Programme, taking into account the written comments of Member Nations, and should recommend to the Director-General such changes as it deems necessary.
4.4 Following the Council's discussion, the Director-General in accordance with GRO XXXVII should finalize his draft Programme of Work and Budget for presentation to the Conference. Any changes recommended by the Council, but not accepted by the Director-General should be circulated as an addendum to the draft.
5. The summaries contained in the documents should provide adequate introductory material, and therefore oral introduction should not normally be necessary.
5.1 Secretariat introductions should be made only when important new developments have occurred since the relevant document was issued.
5.2 There should be no introductions by the Chairmen of the Programme Committee, the Finance Committee and the CCLM of their Committee's reports as a whole. At the discretion of the Chairman of the Council, they may be invited to give introductions to major items. Where possible one introduction only should be made for items covered by the Programme and Finance Committees.
5.3 Committee Chairmen and the Secretariat should have the right of reply to the points made in the debate.
INTERVENTIONS AND RECORDS
6. Lengthy and/or repetitious statements should be avoided.
6.1 Speakers should not restate views already expressed by others, unless extended debate is required to develop a consensus. In these cases, speakers should confine themselves to indicating their agreement with a previous speaker, and not repeat what has already been said.
6.2 If observers from Member Nations not members of the Council wish to speak on any item, they should as far as possible inform the Chairman before discussion of that item begins.
6.3 Member Nation's statements should not be reproduced and circulated by the Secretariat, unless specifically decided by the Council.
6.4 Observers from international organizations may submit, before discussion of the relevant item, written statements to the Chairman, in English, French or Spanish, for circulation; oral statements (if any) should be confined to short summaries thereof.
6.5 The participation of representatives of organizations of the United Nations system in FAO sessions will continue to be governed by existing procedures and practices.
6.6 At the end of the debate on each item, the Chairman should as far as possible summarize the discussion, with a view to highlighting the main trends apparent in the debate. This summary should be taken into account by, but should not be binding on, the Drafting Committee (see para. 7.1 below).
6.7 Verbatim records shall be kept of Council Plenary meetings, but not of the meetings of the Committee-of-the-Whole.
7. Council reports should be as concise as possible, but include all decisions reached by the Council.
7.1 A draft report should be prepared by a Drafting Committee with Secretariat assistance.
7.2 Reports of the Council (as well as of its subsidiary bodies) should have, as far as possible, a standardized format.
7.3 Reports should carry at the beginning a list of the Council's decisions, directives and recommendations, including recommendations to the Conference of subjects for policy discussions.
7.4 Reports should provide a brief indication of the main views expressed and decisions reached on the various agenda items.
7.5 Reports should not include unsupported suggestions unless the Council has so directed.
7.6 Reports should not generally record the views of individual delegations by name. However, any Council member that so insists may have recorded in the report his reservations to any specific conclusions of the Council.
7.7 The Secretary-General should prepare, keep up-to-date and make available to Member Nations an Index of Decisions of the Conference and Council.
7.8 The Secretary-General should inform the Council, normally through an information document, regarding the implementation of the decisions taken at the preceding session of the Council.
8. Every endeavour should be made to ensure effective participation at Council sessions by all members.
ADHERENCE TO THE METHODS OF WORK
9. Steps should be taken to ensure that delegates and the Secretariat are acquainted with the methods of work of the Council.
9.1 These methods of work should be printed and distributed with the provisional agenda, and should also be available to delegations during the sessions of the Council.
9.2 The Chairman should, at the beginning of each session, draw attention to these methods of work.
9.3 Appropriate sections of these methods of work should be applied to the subsidiary bodies of the Council.
RULES APPLICABLE TO COUNCIL PROCEDURES
1. The main rules pertaining to the structure, functions and procedures of the Council are to be found in Article V of the FAO Constitution, in Rules XXII to XXV of the General Rules of the Organization, and in the Council's Rules of Procedure. However, other provisions of the Basic Texts of the Organization are also relevant. Therefore, a detailed list of the appropriate subject matters and relevant provisions is provided below.2
|AGENDA||GRO XXV.7 (59); RC III (114)|
|AGREEMENTS AND CONVENTIONS||Const. XIV, XV (15, 17); GRO XXI (48)|
|ALTERNATES||Const. V.1 (8)|
||Const. V.2 (8); GRO II.2 (c) (vii) (24); GRO X.2 (j) (32); GRO XXIII (52)|
||GRO XXVI.6 (62); GRO XXVII.6 (65); RC I.2 (113)|
||GRO XXIII.1 (b) (52); GRO XLIII (89)|
||GRO XXIII.1 (a) (52)|
||GRO XXIII.2 (53)|
|COMMITTEES AND COMMISSIONS|
||GRO XXV.10 (60); RC V (115)|
||Const. V.6 (9); GRO XXVI (60); GRO XXVII (63); GRO XXVIII.3 (68); GRO XXIX (69); GRO XXX (71); GRO XXXI (73); GRO XXXII (75); GRO XXXIII (78); GRO XXXIV (80)|
||Const. VI (9); Const. XIV.2, 3 (b) (15)|
|COMPETENCE OF||see FUNCTIONS|
|COMPOSITION||see ELECTION OF|
|CONVENING OF||GRO XXXVII.2 (b) (85); see also SESSIONS|
|CONVENTIONS||see AGREEMENTS AND CONVENTIONS|
|DECISIONS OF||Const. V.5 (9); see also
ELECTION, PROCEDURE, VOTING
|DOCUMENTATION||GRO XXV.7 (a) (59); RC VI (115)|
|ELECTION OF||GRO XXII (49); see also PROCEDURE, QUORUM, VOTING|
||Const. V.1 (8); GRO II.2 (c) (vii), (24); GRO II.4 (d) (25)|
||GRO XII.8, 9 (36); GRO XXII.10 (g) (52)|
||GRO X.2 (i) (31)|
||Const. II.9 (5); Const. V.1 (8); GRO XXII.4, 5 (50)|
||GRO XXII.10 (a-e) (51)|
||GRO XXII.1, 9 (49, 51)|
|EXPENSES OF REPRESENTATIVES
||GRO XXV.6 (59); RC VII (115)|
|FUNCTIONS||Const. V.3 (7); GRO XXIV (53)|
||GRO XXIV.2 (55)|
||GRO XXIV.3 (56)|
||GRO XXIV.4 (57)|
||GRO XXIV.1 (53)|
||GRO XXIV, Preamble (53); GRO XXIV.5 (57)|
||GRO VII.1 (29); GRO XXIV.5 (c) (57)|
|PARTICIPATION IN MEETINGS BY|
||GRO XXV.9 (c) (59); Vol. II (161, 162)|
||Const. VII.5 (11); GRO XXV.13 (60)|
||GRO XXV.8 (59); RC III.2 (114); RC VI.2 (115); Vol. II (183)|
||GRO XXV.9 (59); Vol. II (161, 162)|
|Const. II.3 (4); GRO XL (88)|
|Const. II.4-7 (5); GRO XLI (88)|
|Const. II.9 (5); GRO XLIII (89)|
|Const. II.8-10 (5); GRO XLIII (89); GRO XLIV.2 (89)|
|see this heading|
|Const. II.10 (6); GRO XLIV (89)|
||GRO XXV.11 (60); Vol. II (162)|
|PROCEDURE AT MEETINGS||GRO XII.1-28 (33-42)|
|QUORUM||GRO XII.2, 12 (a) (33, 38); GRO LIV.1 (89); RC II.2 (114)|
|RAPPORTEURS||GRO XVI.2 (45)|
|RECORDS OF PROCEEDINGS||RC VI (115)|
|REPORT OF COUNCIL SESSION||GRO II.2 (c) (v) (24); GRO XXIV.5 (f) (58); GRO XXV.12 (60); RC VI.2 (115)|
|REPRESENTATIVES||Const. V.1 (8)|
|RESIGNATION OF COUNCIL MEMBERS||see WITHDRAWAL|
|RULES OF PROCEDURE|
||Const. V.4 (9)|
||RC VIII.1 (116)|
||RC VIII.2 (116)|
|SESSIONS||GRO XXV (58); RC II (113)|
|TERM OF OFFICE||see ELECTION|
|URGENT MATTERS||GRO XXV.14 (60)|
|VICE-CHAIRMAN||RC I (113)|
|VOTING||Const. V.5 (9); GRO XII (33); RC IV (114) see also PARTICIPATION IN MEETINGS BY MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS|
|WITHDRAWAL AND RESIGNATION||GRO XXII.7, 8, 9, (50, 51)|
1 At its Sixtieth Session the Council adopted this text after re-examining the decisions taken at its Thirty-fifth Session (June 1961) as amended at its Forty-third Session (October 1964). It had also reviewed the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Ad Hoc Committee on the Methods of Work of the Council which it had set up at its Fifty-sixth Session (June 1971) and had taken into account its own detailed comments on those recommendations made at its Fifty-ninth Session (November 1972). See CL 60/REP, paras 170-179 and Appendix G.
2 "Const." stands for Constitution; "GRO" for General Rules of the Organization; "RC" for Rules of Procedure of the Council; "Vol. II" for Volume II of the FAO Basic Texts. Numbers in parentheses refer to the pages in the English version of the 1992 edition of the Basic Texts.