Table of Contents Next Page


The Procedural Manual of the Codex Alimentarius Commission is intended to help Member governments participate effectively in the work of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The Manual is particularly useful for national delegations attending Codex meetings and for international organizations attending as observers. It will also be useful for Member Governments which wish to participate in Codex work by correspondence.

Section I sets out the Commission's basic Rules of Procedure and the other internal procedures necessary to achieve the Commission's objectives. These include the procedures for the elaboration of Codex Standards and related texts, general principles and guidelines for the acceptance of Codex standards by governments, and some basic definitions.

Section II is devoted to guidelines for the efficient operation of Codex Committees. These Committees are organized and operated by Member Governments designated by the Commission. It describes how standards are set out in a uniform manner, describes a uniform reference system for Codex documents and working papers, and provides a number of general principles for formulating key sections of Codex standards.

Section III lists the Commission's subsidiary bodies with their Terms of Reference. It also gives the Membership of the Commission (157 Member countries in July 1997) together with the addresses of Codex Contact Points.

This Tenth Edition of the Procedural Manual was prepared by the Secretariat following the Twenty-Second Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Geneva 1997. Further information concerning the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its Subsidiary Bodies can be obtained from the Secretary, Codex Alimentarius Commission, Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, FAO, 00100 Rome, Italy.


The Statutes and Rules of Procedure of the Codex Alimentarius Commission were first established by FAO Conference and the World Health Assembly in 1961/62 when the Commission itself was established. The Statutes were revised in 1966. The Rules of Procedure have been amended on several occasions, the last time being in 1995. The Statutes form the legal basis of the Commission's work and provide its mandate or terms of reference. The Rules of Procedure describe the formal working procedures appropriate to an intergovernmental body.

The Procedure for the Elaboration of Codex Standards describes the way by which Codex standards are prepared and the various Steps in the process which ensure comprehensive review of draft standards by governments and other interested parties. It was comprehensively revised in 1993 to provide a uniform elaboration procedure for all Codex standards and related texts. The Procedure allows the use of a "fast-track" approach in cases where urgent action is needed.

The General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius define the Scope and the purpose of Codex Standards and the way by which governments indicate their formal acceptance of the Standards. The Guidelines on Acceptance provide additional information to Member governments on the procedures regarding acceptance.

This Section concludes with Definitions for the Purpose of the Codex Alimentarius which assist in the uniform interpretation of these texts.

Top of Page Next Page