Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - FAO / WHO / WTO / Codex - 2016

Codex News, 28 August 2016

CODEX - 72nd Session of Codex Executive Committee - New timing to boost strategic planning in Codex

From Tuesday 29th August to Thursday 1st September the Executive Committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CCEXEC) will be meeting at the World Health Organization HQ in Geneva.

This meeting less than two months after the 39th session of the Commission (CAC39) marks a change in the recent organisation of Executive Committee meetings. Codex Secretary Tom Heilandt explained the reasons for this new planning.

Strategic think tank

 “The Executive Committee can and should very much function as a strategic think tank for Codex. This session, fresh on the heels of the 39th Commission, yet far enough away from the next one in 2017, gives us time to look at Codex without the pressure of a major meeting the following week.”

Topics under discussion from Tuesday include how the CCEXEC runs its critical review of Codex standard setting work; the nature of Codex committees working by correspondence (without holding physical meetings) and the focus of the regular review aligned to the Codex Strategic Plan that the Secretariat will be undertaking following indications received from CAC39.

 “We will be looking to draw lessons from CAC39 and most importantly discuss matters on our agenda with senior, expert advisors from the global Codex community who form the core of the Executive Committee together with representatives from the Codex parent organisitions FAO and WHO” said Heilandt.

Role of FAO and WHO

FAO and WHO participate in all Codex committees, representing their respective Director Generals, and provide consultation, in line with the Codex Statutes, “on all matters pertaining to the implementation of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme” - namely Codex.

Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director of the Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses in WHO also commented on the upcoming Geneva meeting. He said: “As the membership of the Commission has become very large, almost universal, we want to see the Codex Executive Committee providing a strategic function. The Committee should not operate as a small ‘Commission’, but should play a distinctly different role to support the work of the Commission by anticipating challenges and proposing solutions.”

Dr Renata Clarke, Head of the FAO Food Safety and Quality Unit in the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department said: “Despite the size and the complexity of the Codex system, it continues to demonstrate considerable flexibility in responding to the needs of its 188 members: this extra session of the Codex Executive Committee is a concrete demonstration of this.”

The Committee

Chaired by Mrs Awilo Ochieng Pernet of the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, the current CCEXEC has a membership of 18 which includes three vice Chairs, seven regional Coordinators and seven other Members elected on a geographical basis.

All information regarding Codex meetings is public and feely available on the Codex website. The working papers for the 72nd session of CEXEC are also publicly available.

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