The CFS 50 Plenary was reconvened on 19 December and was finally concluded at 10pm that day, after another round of difficult discussions. The Plenary had to be reconvened because it had not been possible to find consensus during its regular session in October, mostly due to geopolitical controversies. The main topics to be finalized during the reconvened Plenary were:

  1. the Conclusions on the agenda item II concerning Coordinating Policy Responses to the Global Food Crisis;
  2. the finalization of the CFS 50 Plenary Report, with the pending request of the CSIPM Youth WG to include their reservations in the Report; and
  3. the date of the CFS 51 Plenary session.

On the Responses to the Global Food Crisis, the CFS Chair presented a draft text which was adopted, after several hours of discussions with a minor amendment, accompanied by a number of reservations from several countries, and following a vote on a proposal to include the term “sanctions” in the report in the paragraph that take notes of the impact of economic, financial and trade measures in relation to food security and nutrition during the global food crisis. The CSIPM proposal to strengthen the CFS response to the new layer of global food crisis, as accompanied by the broad campaign and outreach to Member States in many countries, received appreciation by countries from Latin America, Africa and Europe. However, it was not adopted. Other countries, instead, presented proposals to further weaken the draft presented by the Chair, but they were also rejected.

The final conclusions as adopted on this point are: the Plenary “called on leveraging the convening power of the CFS to strengthen coordinated policy responses to the multiple dimensions of the global food crisis, in line with the CFS reform document, including through, but not limited to, regular substantive items on the global food security crisis in the agendas of Bureau and Advisory Group meetings, as well as the engagement of the CFS Chairperson, HLPE-FSN, Secretariat and autonomous mechanisms of CFS within the UN Secretary Generals Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance”.

The strong demand from CSIPM for an additional sentence, presented and defended by Musa Sowe and Hala Barakat on behalf of the CSIPM Working Group on Global Food Governance, to “engage in a Member-led dialogue to propose an approach for globally coordinated policy response to CFS 51, to address the current and prevent future crises”, was explicitly supported by Mexico and the European Union, and was appreciated by Venezuela and by Cameroon. However, Argentina insisted on its position to even weaken the original paragraph. At the end, the paragraph as proposed by the Chair was agreed and the formulation “but not limited to” was kept, which to some extent opens the door for concrete proposals as presented by the CSIPM and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Even if the specific paragraph proposed by the CSIPM did not end up in the Plenary report, the fact that we received support from the Africa Group, the EU and several Latin American countries is itself a very positive outcome. The Plenary gives a clear mandate to the Committee on World Food Security to strengthen coordinated policy responses through discussions in the Advisory Group and Bureau meetings, but it opens up the space to go beyond that. With the constructive dialogue built between the CSIPM and the Governments’ Representatives mentioned above, there are enough factors to build on for 2023. The Chair has committed to include our proposal in his ‘Chair’s Summary’ of CFS 50.

The many reservations from Member States on the final text of the conclusions refer mostly to the term “war in Ukraine” and its implications for the current crisis. All these “Explanations of Positions” will be included in the annex of the final report. The vote on the term “including sanctions” ended with 48 countries objecting, and 10 countries in favor. As a consequence, the term was not included, but the US delegation, after long debate, had to give up their objection to even mentioning the term “including sanctions” in the footnote referring to the vote.

Youth Reservation request successful: the strong request of the Youth for including its reservation on the CFS Policy Recommendations adopted in October, was finally accepted. This success was the good news of the reconvened CFS Plenary of 19 December. The Youth WG had worked very hard on this request to be accepted, with Sefu Sanni explaining the demand again to the Plenary. It is a major success for the entire Mechanism, since it confirms that specific reservations of the CSIPM to disassociate from certain paragraphs of a CFS Policy Outcome are to be acknowledged in CFS Plenary Reports. 

There was a long final debate on the date of the next CFS 51 Plenary Session because the FAO Council, upon request of FAO Senior Management, had suggested to schedule the World Food Forum in the week of the World Food Day (traditionally dedicated to the CFS Plenary), and postponing the CFS to the subsequent week. South Africa, supported by a good number of member states and by the CSIPM, expressed concern about this proposal and suggested to hold the CFS Plenary 51 from 9-13 October 2023. It was also clarified that the decision about the date to convene the CFS should be agreed and communicated jointly by the FAO Director General and the CFS Chair. While the preference in the room was clearly the week of 9-13 October, the week from 23-27 October is still included as a second option.  The CSIPM expressed to the Plenary the importance of holding the CFS51 Plenary close to World Food Day to prioritise policy responses for the realisation of the human right to food and coordination to address the multiple crises in a Committee that is intergovernmental, multilateral and inclusive.

Below, see also a summary of the day by André Luzzi.

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