J. Article XI reports
189. The Conference recalled that at its Thirteenth Session it had requested the Council to investigate the value and utility of Article XI reports and to consider the most appropriate subject matter as well as the most useful method of preparing, circulating and using them and to make recommendations to the Fourteenth Session.
190. Following consideration of the matter by the Council and the Programme Committee, proposals were submitted by the Director-General to the Fourteenth Session of the Conference , which agreed that these reports should consist of three parts: (i) a general section reviewing the main food and agricultural developments in the countries; (ii) specific sections like those of the special chapters of The State of Food and Agriculture, providing analytical information on one or more important subjects suggested by FAO; (iii) and finally a third part containing information to be provided at the discretion of the governments on particular problems faced by them. It had also agreed that the reports should be on a two-year basis, and endorsed the suggestion that each country should submit at least a provisional report to FAO by 31 March of each Conference year. It had recommended that this experimental measure be followed for 1967-68, and that the results be reported further to the Fifteenth Session in 1969.
191. The Programme Committee at its Fourteenth Session considered the 1964-66 Report experience with particular attention to the relative lack of response by governments to the request for reports for that period. It also considered the guideline for 1967-68 Reports approved by the Fourteenth Session of the Conference, the timing, the responsibility of Member Governments for distribution of their reports to other Member Governments, and the desirability of a possible modification of Article XI to make it more realistic.
192. The Council at its Fifty-First Session had agreed that the procedure approved by the Fourteenth Session of the Conference should be followed for 1967-68, and that the matter should again be considered by the Conference on the basis of a report to be prepared by the Director-General.
193. The Conference noted that as of 30 June 1969, the date on which final reports for 1967-68 were due in Rome, in accordance with the Director-General's request of 31 May 1968, only 6 reports had been received and that a total of 28 reports, or about 23 percent, had been received by the time of the Conference. The small number of reports received, together with the lateness of their receipt in Rome, precluded their being any use in the preparation of such studies as The State of Food and Agriculture. Only a few of the reports had followed the guideline attached to the Director-General's letter.
194. The Conference considered the alternative suggestions made by the Director-General, that the same procedure adopted for 1967-68 reports be applied to 1969-70 or that any further request for reports be deferred until the matter could be reviewed in detail by the Director-General, the Programme Committee and the Council in 1970; it also considered the possibility of following the 1967-68 procedure except that Member Governments might be requested to report on actions, problems and developments to the five Areas of Concentration.
195. The Conference felt that the requirements of Article XI had lost much of their meaning since the adoption of the Constitution, were difficult to comply with, especially by developing countries which had other responsibilities of a higher priority, and that, in any case, the reports were of little practical value since other more rapid and effective means were now available to obtain needed information. One delegate suggested that FAO should publish a report based on documentation submitted by Member Governments at regular intervals.
196. The Conference agreed that no request should be made for submission of reports for 1969-70, and that the matter should be further considered by the Council, the Programme Committee and the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters with a view to proposing to the Sixteenth Session of the Conference an appropriate amendment to Article XI to bring it up-to-date. It understood that, according to Article XX of the Constitution, any amendment would need to be proposed by the Council and communicated to Member Governments by the Director-General at least 120 days prior to the opening for the Conference.