Principles concerning the participation of International Non-Governmental Organizations in the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission

1. PURPOSE

The purpose of collaboration with International Non-Governmental Organizations is to secure for the Codex Alimentarius Commission, expert information, advice and assistance from international non-governmental organizations and to enable organizations which represent important sections of public opinion and are authorities in their fields of professional and technical competence to express the views of their members and to play an appropriate role in ensuring the harmonizing of intersectoral interests among the various sectoral bodies concerned in a country, regional or global setting.

Arrangements made with such organizations shall be designed to advance the purposes of the Codex Alimentarius Commission by securing maximum cooperation from International Non-Governmental Organizations in the execution of its programme.

2. TYPES OF RELATIONSHIP

Only one category of relationship shall be recognized, namely "Observer Status"; all other contacts, including working relations, shall be considered to be of an informal character.

3. ORGANIZATIONS ELIGIBLE FOR "OBSERVER STATUS"

The following shall be eligible for Observer Status:

  1. International Non-Governmental Organizations in consultative status, specialized consultative status or liaison status with FAO;
  2. International Non-Governmental Organizations having official relations with WHO; and
  3. International Non-Governmental Organizations that:
    1. are international in structure and scope of activity, and representative of the specialized field of interest in which they operate;
    2. are concerned with matters covering a part or all of the Commission’s field of activity;
    3. have aims and purposes in conformity with the Statutes of the Codex Alimentarius Commission;
    4. have a permanent directing body and Secretariat, authorized representatives and systematic procedures and machinery for communicating with its membership in various countries. Its members shall exercise voting rights in relation to its policies or action or shall have other appropriate mechanisms to express their views; and
    5. have been established at least three years before they apply for observer status.

For the purpose of paragraph (a), International Non-Governmental Organizations shall be considered "international in structure and scope of activity" if they have members and carry out activities in at least three countries. The Directors-General of FAO and WHO may, upon the advice of the Executive Committee, grant observer status to Organizations not meeting this requirement if it is clear from their application that they would make a significant contribution to advancing the purposes of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

4. PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING "OBSERVER STATUS"

4.1    INTERNATIONAL NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS HAVING STATUS OR OFFICIAL RELATIONS WITH FAO AND WHO

"Observer status" shall be accorded to those International Non-Governmental Organizations in consultative status, specialized consultative status or liaison status with FAO or International Non-Governmental Organizations having official relations with WHO that inform the Secretary of the Codex Alimentarius Commission of their desire to participate in the work of the Commission and/or any or all of the Commission's subsidiary bodies1 on a regular basis. They may also request invitations to participate at specific sessions of the Commission or its subsidiary bodies on an ad hoc basis.

4.2     NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS NOT HAVING STATUS OR OFFICIAL RELATIONS WITH FAO AND WHO

Before any form of formal relationship is established with a Non-Governmental Organization, such Organization shall supply the Secretary of the Commission with the information outlined in the Annex to these Procedures. The Secretary of the Commission will verify the completeness of the information provided by the Organization, and will also perform an initial assessment of whether the Organization appears to meet the requirements indicated in Section 3 of these Principles. In case of doubts, he or she will consult with the Directors-General of FAO and WHO and may seek further information and clarifications from the Organization as appropriate.

Upon satisfactory completion of the verification and assessment referred to in the previous paragraph, the Secretary of the Commission will submit the application and all relevant information received from the applicant to the Executive Committee for its advice, pursuant to Rule IX.6 of the Rules of Procedure of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Secretary of the Commission will transmit the application, together with all relevant information received from the applicant and the advice of the Executive Committee, to the Directors-General who will decide whether an Organization is to be granted observer status. In case of rejection of an application, a re-application by the same Organization shall not normally be considered until two years have elapsed since the Directors-General's decision on the original application. The Secretary of the Commission shall inform each Organization of the Directors-General's decision on its application, and shall provide a written explanation of the decision in case of rejection. Observer Status at specific meetings will not normally be granted to individual organizations that are members of a larger organization authorized and that intends to represent them at these meetings.

5. PRIVILEGES AND OBLIGATIONS

International Non-governmental Organizations in Observer status shall have the following privileges and obligations:

5.1     PRIVILEGES OF INTERNATIONAL NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS IN "OBSERVER STATUS"

An Organization in Observer Status:

  1. shall be entitled to send an observer (without the right to vote) to sessions of the Commission, who may be accompanied by advisers; to receive from the Secretary of the Commission, in advance of the session, all working documents and discussion papers; to circulate to the Commission its views in writing, without abridgement; and to participate in discussions when invited by the Chairperson2;
  2. shall be entitled to send an observer (without the right to vote) to sessions of specified Subsidiary Bodies, who may be accompanied by advisers; to receive from the Secretaries of the Subsidiary Bodies, in advance of the session, all working documents and discussion papers; to circulate to these Bodies its views in writing, without abridgement; and to participate in discussions when invited by the Chairperson;
  3. may be invited by the Directors-General to participate in meetings or seminars on subjects organized under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme which fall within its fields of interest, and if it does not so participate it may submit its views in writing to any such meeting or seminar;
  4. will receive documentation and information about meetings planned on subjects agreed upon with the Secretariat;
  5. may submit, under the authority of its governing body, written statements on matters before the Commission, in one of the languages of Commission, to the Secretary, who may communicate them to the Commission or the Executive Committee as appropriate.

5.2      OBLIGATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS IN "OBSERVER STATUS"

An Organization in Observer Status shall undertake:

  1. to cooperate fully with the Codex Alimentarius Commission for the furtherance of the objectives of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme;
  2. in cooperation with the Secretariat, to determine the ways and means of co-ordinating activities within the scope of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, with a view to avoiding duplication and overlapping;
  3. to contribute, as far as possible, and at the request of the Directors-General, to the promotion of a better knowledge and understanding of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme through appropriate discussions or other forms of publicity;
  4. to send to the Secretary of the Commission on an exchange basis, its reports and publications concerned with matters covering all or part of the Commission?s field of activity;
  5. to promptly report to the Secretary of the Commission changes it its structure and membership, important changes in its secretariat as well as any other important changes in the information provided in accordance with the Annex to the present Principles.

6.    REVIEW OF "OBSERVER STATUS"

The Directors-General may terminate observer status if an Organization no longer meets the criteria in sections 3 and 4 above, or for reasons of exceptional nature, in accordance with the procedures set out in this section.

Without prejudice to the preceding paragraph, an international non-governmental organization in Observer Status which has neither attended any meetings nor provided any written comments during a period of four years shall be deemed not to have sufficient interest to warrant the continuance of such relationship.

If, in the view of the Directors-General, the conditions indicated in the previous paragraphs materialize, they shall inform the Organization concerned accordingly and invite it to submit its observations. The Directors-General will seek the advice of the Executive Committee and will submit any observation received from the Organization to it. The Directors-General, taking into account the advice of the Executive Committee and any observation submitted by the Organization, shall decide whether to terminate its observer status. A re-application from the same Organization shall not normally be considered until two years have elapsed since the Directors-General's decision to terminate its observer status.

The Secretary shall report to the Codex Alimentarius Commission on the relations between the Codex Alimentarius Commission and international nongovernmental organizations established in accordance with the present Procedures and shall provide a list of organizations granted Observer Status, with an indication of the membership that they represent. He or she shall also report to the Commission the termination of the observer status of any Organization.

The Commission shall periodically review these principles and procedures and shall consider, as necessary, any amendments which may seem desirable.

ANNEX: INFORMATION REQUIRED OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS REQUESTING "OBSERVER STATUS"

  1. Official name of the organization in different languages (with initials)
  2. Full postal address, Telephone, Facsimile and Email, as well as Telex and website addresses as appropriate
  3. Aims and subject fields (mandate) of organization, and methods of operation. (Enclose charter, constitution, by-laws, rules of procedures, etc.). Date of establishment
  4. Member organizations (name and address of each national affiliate, method of affiliation, giving number of members where possible, and names of principal officers. If the organization has individual members, please indicate approximate number in each country. If the organization is of a federal nature and has international non-governmental organizations as members, please indicate whether any of those members already enjoy observer status with the Codex Alimentarius Commission)
  5. Structure (assembly or conference; council or other form of governing body; type of general secretariat; commissions on special topics, if any; etc.)
  6. Indication of source of funding (e.g., membership contributions, direct funding, external contributions, or grants)
  7. Meetings (indicate frequency and average attendance; send report of previous meeting, including any resolutions passed) that are concerned with matters covering all or part of the Commission?s field of activity
  8. Relations with other international organizations:
    • UN and its organs (indicate consultative status or other relationship, if any)
    • Other international organizations (document substantive activities)
  9. Expected contribution to the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme
  10. Past activities on behalf of, or in relation to, the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme (indicate any relationship by national affiliates with the Regional Coordinating Committees and/or the National Codex Contact Points or Committees for at least the last three years preceding the application)
  11. Area of activity in which participation as an observer is requested (Commission and/or Subsidiary Bodies). If more than one organization with similar interests is requesting observer status in any field of activity, such organizations will be encouraged to form themselves into a federation or association for the purpose of participation. If the formation of such a single organization is not feasible, the application should explain why this is so.
  12. Previous applications for observer status with the Codex Alimentarius Commission, including those made by a member organization of the applicant organization. If successful, please indicate why and when observer status was terminated. If unsuccessful, please indicate the reasons you were given.
  13. Languages (English, French or Spanish) in which documentation should be sent to the international non-governmental organization
  14. Name, Function and address of the person providing the information
  15. Signature and date

1               The term "subsidiary bodies" means any body established under Rule XI of the Commission's Rules of Procedure.

2               An invitation to a Codex meeting and representation thereat by an observer shall not imply the granting to an international non-governmental organization of a status different from that which it already enjoys.

Updated on: 18-08-2016
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