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CAC44 / Codex Members again show overwhelming support for holding a virtual Commission


At midnight on 7 September 2021 the deadline passed for Codex Members to express their agreement that the Codex Alimentarius Commission could hold its forty-fourth session virtually and proceed with elections for the appointment of new officers. With 135 of the 126 preferences required, countries have once again endorsed the move to meet virtually to address priority matters.

Voting will be conducted by appointment, through a physical secret ballot in Geneva, following the modality adopted by the recent FAO Conference for the election of the new Independent Chairperson of the Council; an election described at the time as “a model of a democratic UN governance process”. Preparations are underway in collaboration with the legal offices of FAO and WHO and detailed arrangements will be communicated to Members through official channels once they become available.

The Chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Guilherme Da Costa, Brazil, said: “I am happy to hear that the Codex Members have agreed to endorse the virtual Commission for the second time, once again demonstrating their commitment to the organization and their confidence and support for the Codex structure as a whole. It is a great honour for us to work with you as chairperson and vice-chairpersons of the Codex Alimentarius during these two historical moments. Congratulations, and thank you all very much!”

Tom Heilandt, Codex Secretary said: “For a second year in a row the Codex Alimentarius Commission will meet online and for a second year in a row you, our Members, have overwhelmingly supported this process which will allow the world to come together to set the standards that protect everyone everywhere and allow food trade to flow freely and safely.”

Describing the pride and honour within the Codex Secretariat for this vote of confidence, Heilandt recognized the decision to proceed with a virtual session as an appreciation of the hard work and commitment of the whole team in reaching this point. “Together with help from our host governments, we will run 16 formal Codex sessions in 2021, which is a record for a year without regional meetings! And this does not include the numerous virtual working groups and information events and webinars that are also being convened this year,” he said.

Codex has proved that it is able to operate virtually, but Heilandt warned that high numbers of intensive week-long online meetings per year are not sustainable for secretariats and delegations alike. “Together we will have to think about how Codex will work in the future,” he said.

Discussions starting at the Commission will explore the way forward, but the endorsement is a moment for celebration because whatever the circumstances and uncertainties it is clear the membership wants Codex to continue strongly.


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The Codex Alimentarius Commission