NEGOTIATIONS ON THE INTERNATIONAL UNDERTAKING FOR PLANT GENETIC
RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
2 November 2001
The 31st Session of the
Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
opened today at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy. FAO
Director-General Jacques Diouf opened the meeting, welcoming
delegates and observers. Upon the suggestion of the FAO
Council, delegates elected Saaed Bin Mohammed Al Raqabani
(United Arab Emirates) as Conference Chair, Asisclo Valladares
Molina (Guatemala) as Chair of Commission I, Karl-Josef Weiers
(Germany) as Chair of Commission II, as well as the
Vice-Chairpersons and the General and Credentials Committees.
Chair Al Raqabani emphasized the need for the international
community to promote peace and social stability to achieve
food security, highlighting regional political instabilities
and their impact on poverty and malnutrition. In this regard,
he highlighted the FAO's potential role and the need to renew
efforts to achieve the goals of the 1996 World Food Summit to
reduce world hunger.
Patricio Aylwin, former President of
Chile, delivered the McDougall Memorial Lecture, which addressed Frank
McDougall's legacy in addressing issues of world hunger and food
production, and more specifically contributions to the establishment
of the FAO itself. He also reviewed the lack of progress in reaching
the goals of the 1996 World Food Summit, and noted existing trends in
the globalization of poverty and problems with the philosophy of
economic neo-liberalism and the market. Numerous delegates lauded the
presentation and its use as a starting point for the present meeting
and the work leading up to the World Food Summit.
In the afternoon, the Conference
addressed the adoption of the agenda and arrangements for the session
(C 2001/1-Rev.1; C 2001/12-Rev.1; C 2001/INF2-Rev.1; C 2001/INF/16).
Carleen Gardner, FAO Assistant Director-General of General Affairs and
Information, presented the General Committee's report on adoption of
the agenda, admission of observers and other arrangements. She noted, inter alia, that Agenda Item 7, on the
International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (IU), would be
addressed during the Conference's 4th meeting on Saturday, 3 November
from 2:30-5:30 pm, in the main conference hall.
This announcement came amid confusion
over whether the Conference would consider the IU in Plenary, possibly
for a vote, or refer it to Commission I for further discussion.
Presently, Amb. Fernando Gerbasi (Venezuela) Chair of the Commission
on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture will present the report
of the Council and Working Group on the IU to Plenary, and subsequent
discussions are expected on whether the treaty will come to a vote or
be referred to subsequent negotiations on outstanding items.