Item 7 of agenda - Report of preparatory commission (chapter VII) and amendments to the constitution and rules of procedure
The Preparatory Commission on World Food Proposals, established in accordance with a resolution of the Copenhagen Conference, recommended the establishment of a Council of FAO, to be generally known as the World Food Council, to serve as the executive body of the Organization. That Commission also made a number of recommendations as to functions and composition of the proposed Council and pointed out that its establishment might involve constitutional amendments.
Proposals for amending the FAO Constitution were submitted by the governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and by the Executive Committee. [See Amendments]
1. Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization
Commission III gave careful consideration to the recommendations of the Preparatory Commission and to the proposed amendments. The Commission endorsed the recommendations contained in Chapter VII of the Report of the Preparatory Commission and approved in principle the amendment proposed by the United States of America providing for the establishment of a Council composed of representative of eighteen member nations. It was the consensus of the Commission that the Executives Committee would he replaced by this Council which would take over its functions. The United Kingdom and Australian delegations agreed that if the substance of the United States amendment were adopted they would withdraw their amendments.
2. Qualifications of Members
The Commission was unanimous in its opinion that the Council should consist of members or alternates especially qualified by administrative experience or other special qualifications to contribute to the attainment of the purpose of the Organization, a principle which had been endorsed by the member nations in regard to the Executives Committee. The Conference agreed that this principle should he embodied in a recommendation to member governments by the Third Session of the FAO Conference.
3. Alternates, Associates, and Advisers
The Commission also agreed that inasmuch as the Council of FAO will be composed of representatives of member nations, provision should be made for the appointment of alternates. It was agreed that each nation elected to the Council should appoint one person to act as its representative on the Council in order to provide for continuity, hut might also appoint alternates, associates, and advisers. This is provided for in Rule XXIV, paragraph 2.
4. Chairman of the Council
The Commission agreed by a vote of 20 to 6 that there should be an independent Chairman of the Council who would he an impartial representative of all the member nations. The question whether the Conference or the Council should select the Chairman was discussed at some length. Some members were of the opinion that the Council should be free to choose its Chairman, but others thought that the Conference, which is the sovereign body and which includes all the members of FAO, should have this responsibility. It was finally agreed that the Constitution should provide that the Conference appoint the Chairman and that the Chairman should be appointed for one year and be eligible for re-election.
5. Functions of the Council of FAO
The Commission debated the question of whether the functions of the Council should he defined only in general terms or in some detail. It was decided that the latter was desirable and that the functions of the Council should include those recommended in the Report of the Preparatory Commission.
In connection with the Council's functions in relation to intergovernmental agricultural commodity arrangements and the co-ordination of agricultural policies, the Commission agreed that the Rules should provide that these functions be carried out in conformity with the resolution of the Economic and Social Council of 28 March 1947 and in close co-operation with the appropriate specialized agencies and inter governmental bodies. This decision is in conformity with the recommendations of the Preparatory Commission which have been endorsed by Commission I.
6. FAO and IEFC
Commission I has recommended that the governments of the International Emergency Food Council dissolve that body with a view to its incorporation into FAO and that the functions previously discharged by IEFC shall in the future be performed in the same manner by the Council of FAO. Commission III was of the opinion that appropriate authority may be given by the Conference to the Council under the amended Article V, paragraph 2, of the Constitution by inserting the words "food and" between the words "of" and "materials" in paragraph 1(C) (V) of the proposed amendment to Rule XXVI, and has accordingly provided for such an addition.
7. Financial Control
The Commission was of the opinion that the Committee on Financial Control should be empowered to act for the Council since otherwise the Council must be convened more frequently and at intervals which might not be convenient from the point of view of the other work of the Council.
The Commission approved Regulation I, paragraph 3, providing for delegating to the Committee on Financial Control such financial and related functions as the Council may determine.
It was understood by the members that this would enable the Committee on Financial Control to meet separately and to act for the Council in accordance with rules to be established by the Council.
The question was raised whether it was necessary to have as many as five members on the Committee on Financial Control. Other members were of the opinion that the five member Subcommittee on Finance, established by the Copenhagen Conference, had proved to be very satisfactory. It was agreed, however, that five should be the maximum number and this limitation is set down in Regulation I, paragraph 2.
8. Expenses of Representatives of Members of the Council
The Commission considered whether FAO or the member nations concerned should pay the expenses of representatives attending meetings of the Council. A discussion arose in this connection as to whether the representatives on the Council act for the Conference or for the 18 member governments only. It was agreed in principle that the Council is acting on behalf of all member nations and is responsible to the Conference.
It was thought by some members that an undue financial burden might be placed on the member nations represented on the Council which might result in their appointing technically unsuitable persons located near FAO headquarters.
The Commission agreed, after a full discussion, that the Organization should be responsible for the travelling expenses of one representative of each member nation participating in the sessions of the Council, as now provided for in Rule XXV, paragraph 3. The regulations concerning these expenses will be defined by the Council in consultation with the Director-General.
It was, however, made quite clear that the Organization would not be responsible for actual living expenses of the representatives during the sessions and that this would be the responsibility of the member governments concerned.
9. Provision for Consideration of Minority Opinion of Council
Concern was expressed by some members that in a council of only 18 member nations the majority view might not coincide with the majority view of the Conference itself. It was proposed that a provision be inserted in the Rules providing that if the minority in the Council reaches one third of its members, the said minority would then through the Director-General have the right to appeal to the Conference. The members were emphatic in the opinion that any minority view, even a minority of one, could be placed before the Conference, and that to make a specific provision concerning the size of the minority might result in creating a veto power or stimulating artificial minorities. It was agreed that as this question was of importance, it should be further studied by each member nation with a view to its being brought up again at the next session of the Conference. In reaching this conclusion the Commission reiterated the proposition that minority views could always be presented to the Conference and that the Council itself might wish to consider making provision for informing the nations as to any minority views which developed.
10. Technical Co-ordinating Committee
The Commission was of the opinion that it was essential to preserve the continuity and efficiency of the technical advice which should be available to FAO in general and to the Council in particular. The Commission agreed, therefore, that a co-ordinating committee should be established, composed of the chairmen of the Council, the Standing Advisory Committees, and the Committee on Financial Control, to advise the Director-General from time to time on the co-ordination of the work undertaken by the technical divisions of FAO. in accordance with the decisions of the Conference. While this fundamental point was not disputed, a problem arose as to the method of appointment. Some delegates believed that this Committee should be appointed by the Conference. They pointed out that this body, which is to be purely advisory, would have more moral authority if it were established by the Conference. Others thought this procedure would tend to detract from the authority of the Council which must be the governing body of FAO. The Commission, after a full discussion of the issues involved, agreed by a majority vote of 22 to 4 to include a paragraph in the amendment to Article V of the Constitution providing that the Council shall appoint the co-ordinating committee.
11. Annual World Food and Agriculture Review
The Commission recognized the importance of securing effective co-ordination of national and international programs and policies in the fields of food and agriculture, and unanimously recommended that a resolution be adopted by the Conference providing that the Conference make an annual world food and agriculture review, at each session of the Conference, on the situation of and the outlook for world food supplies and agricultural development (as envisaged by the Report of the FAO Preparatory Commission on World Food Proposals) and that, between sessions of the Conference, the Council of FAO should keep that situation under review.
12. Admission of New Members to FAO
The attention of Commission III was drawn to a recommendation made by the Executive Committee in June 1947 whereby the time which must elapse before an application for membership can be considered by the Conference should be reduced from 90 to 30 days. The Commission recommends that this modification should be incorporated in Rule XX, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Procedure.