Guidance for Co-Hosting Arrangements of Codex Sessions
According to the Guidelines for Host Governments of Codex Committees and ad-hoc Intergovernmental Task Forces, host countries are encouraged to “consider arrangements for holding Codex sessions in developing countries.” This guidance focuses on the co-hosting procedures regarding formal correspondence, the timeline with sequence of events, and the responsible party for each step in the process.
The 11th Session of the Contaminants Committee was co-hosted by The Netherlands and Brazil in Rio de Janeiro
The modalities for matching a host country and a co-host country and any arrangements between the countries are outside the scope of this guidance. It is suggested though that the operational arrangements between host country and co-host country e.g. on distribution of costs for the meeting or co-chairing should be discussed early in the process and finalized not later than 8-10 months in advance of the session.
LOA/MOR WITH FAO
In order to co-host a Codex session on its territory, the requesting co-host country must conclude a Letter of Agreement (LOA)/Memorandum of Responsibilities (MOR) with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The LOA obligates the co-host country to accept the operational and official responsibilities set out in the accompanying MOR. The format and content of the LOA/MOR are consistent with those established between FAO and the standing host governments of Codex bodies however, with regard to co-hosting arrangements, they may contain references to the host country’s support to their co-host.
Effective communication between the host country, the co-host country, and the Codex Secretariat should be maintained throughout the process to ensure a successful session. With regard to the LOA/MOR, all communications should be copied to relevant interested parties, including:
- the relevant Ministries in the co-host country;
- the Codex Contact point of the co-host country;
- the Codex Contact point of the host-country;
- the FAO Representation in the co-host country; and
- the co-host country’s Permanent Representation to FAO.
(i) Discussion and decision to co-host a Codex session: 14-24 months before the session
Before contacting the host country for a possible co-hosting arrangement, the aspiring co-host country should examine the principle conditions contained in the standard LOA/MOR to ensure that they can meet them as the substantive content of the MOR is neither negotiable, nor modifiable. Thus, aspiring co-host countries that are unable to accept the conditions set out in the MOR should not pursue a co-hosting arrangement.
The country should clarify the roles and responsibilities of the different Ministries that will be involved and specifically obtain clearance from the diplomatic branch of the co-host country’s government (usually Ministry of Foreign Affairs) on granting privileges and immunities to FAO/WHO and participants e.g. granting visas to all participants. This should be undertaken only through official channels and not as part of an informal dialogue.
Such preliminary internal steps to co-host a Codex session should take place at least 14 to 24 months in advance.
(ii) Letter of Interest sent to Codex Secretariat: 12-14 months before the session
In order to start the formal process for consideration, the co-host country must send a Letter of Interest to the Codex Secretariat. It should be submitted as soon as the host and co-host countries have agreed on a co-hosting arrangement.
The substantive content of the Letter of Interest does not follow a specific format (please see here for a model letter), but should clearly demonstrate the intent and willingness for co-hosting a Codex session as it will be regarded as a formal offer from the requesting co-host country. Additional information may include a reference to the underlying agreement with the host country, the proposed venue, and the acceptance to undertake operational responsibilities. Ideally, the Letter of Interest should be sent to the Codex Secretariat 12 to 14 months before the planned date of the session.
(iii) Codex Secretariat requests FAO to prepare Letter of Agreement (LOA) and Memorandum of Responsibilities (MOR): Immediately upon receipt of the Letter of Interest
Upon receipt of the Letter of Interest, the Codex Secretariat forwards it to the relevant FAO unit to prepare the LOA/MOR. Please note that the internal FAO preparation process of the LOA/MOR may take up to two months to complete. Generally, the format and content of the LOA/MOR are uniform (see here for examples of the standard LOA/MOR) and contain the following:
Part I – Operational responsibilities of FAO
This part of the MOR lists services and staff provided by FAO for the Codex session including designating the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the session and arranging for the preparation of the draft report and its distribution after the session concludes.
Part II – Responsibilities of the co-host government with regard to privileges and immunities for FAO/WHO and participants
This part of the MOR contains the obligation to grant visas and immunities to all participants and Codex staff. This is extremely critical since these privileges are usually the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and not necessarily of the Ministry responsible for Codex issues.
Part III – Operational responsibilities of the co-host government
This part of the MOR covers the operational responsibilities, which include facilitating transportation, venue, equipment, and translation/interpretation services. The MOR assumes that the co-host country will provide these services in cooperation with the host country.
The nature of any cooperation arrangements are outside the responsibility of FAO or the Codex Secretariat.
NOTE: The standard LOA/MOR text does not distinguish the terms “host” and “co-host”. For the terms of the agreement with FAO, the government of the co-host country becomes the host government for the session in question and has to assume all relevant responsibilities.
(iv) LOA/MOR sent to co-host country – 10-12 months before the session
The LOA, usually signed by the Director-General of FAO (also on behalf of the Director-General of WHO), is addressed to the official channel of communication of the recipient co-host country. Information on the official channel is available to accredited Permanent Representations to FAO by visiting this website: //permreps.www.8sm8v.cn
Please note that the LOA/MOR may be addressed to a Ministry other than the one with the primary technical or logistic responsibility for co-hosting the Codex session (or the Ministry hosting the Codex Contact Point). The co-host country’s Codex Contact Point may help in facilitating and streamlining correspondence among the Ministries. In accordance with FAO rules and procedures, the preparation and transmission of the LOA/MOR to the co-host country should occur about 10 to 12 months in advance of the session.
(v) Review and Signing of LOA/MOR; Letter of Acceptance and Conclusion of the Agreement: 9 months before the session (6 weeks upon receipt of the LOA/MOR)
The aspiring co-host country is required to send a Letter of Acceptance (either in the form of letter or fax) to conclude the agreement with FAO/WHO. It should contain a clear reference to the LOA/MOR with regard to the co-hosting arrangement for the designated Codex session. The Letter of Agreement is signed by an authorized official in the co-host country who will undertake the commitments set out in the MOR.Under normal circumstances, the co-host country should reply within 6 weeks to the LOA/MOR and thus conclude the agreement with FAO. If the Letter of Acceptance has not been signed by an authorized official in the co-host country 9 months prior to the date of the Codex session, the session may be moved to another location or re-scheduled for a later date.
(vi) Invitation Letter accompanied by a Provisional Agenda – 4-6 months prior to the session The conclusion of the co-host agreement allows the Codex Secretariat to issue an Invitation Letter accompanied by a Provisional Agenda to all Members and Observers of Codex. According to Rule VII.4 of the Rules of Procedure of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the provisional agenda should be "circulated by the Directors-General of FAO or WHO to all members of the Commission at least two months before the opening of the session." Ideally it should be circulated 4 to 6 months prior to the Codex session to provide sufficient time for all delegations to make the necessary arrangements to attend.
CHART OF SEQUENCE OF EVENTS, RESPONSIBLE PARTY AND TIMEFRAME FOR CO-HOSTING ARRANGEMENTS OF CODEX SESSIONS
|(i)||Discussions and decision to co-host a Codex session||Host and co-host countries||14-24 months before the date of the session (operational arrangements not later than 10-8 months in advance of the session)|
|(ii)||Letter of Interest is sent to the Codex Secretariat||Co-host country||12-14 months before the date of the session|
|(iii)||Codex Secretariat requests FAO to prepare Letter of Agreement/Memorandum of Responsibilities (LOA/MOR)||Codex Secretariat||Immediately upon receipt of the Letter of Interest|
|(iv)||LOA/MOR are sent to the co-host country||FAO (on behalf of FAO and WHO)||1-2 months after receipt of Letter of Interest; 10-12 months before the date of the session|
|(v)||Review and signing of LOA/MOR and Letter of Acceptance||Co-host country||If not signed by 9 months before the date of the session, it may be moved to another location or re-scheduled|
|(vi)||Invitation and provisional agenda issued||Codex Secretariat||4-6 months before date of session|
Host country: Member country of the Codex Alimentarius Commission designated by the Commission, which has indicated its willingness to accept financial and all other responsibility for a committee or task force and has responsibility for appointing a chairperson of the Committee.
Co-host country: Country, different from the host country, in which a Codex session is held.
Co-chairing: The host country may invite the co-host country to appoint an official as a co-chair for the session.
Host government: Government of the country signing an LOA/MOR with FAO for hosting a Codex session in their country (this can be a host country or co-host country).