Waterloo, Canada – September 29, 2010 – A new policy brief released today by The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) warns the Food Aid Convention (FAC) risks fading into obscurity unless its outdated governance mechanisms, which have damaged the organization’s effectiveness and legitimacy, are improved.

The FAC is the international agreement that sets out the rules and donor commitments governing food aid for the world’s hungry. The agreement is currently under renegotiation and will expire June 2011. Over the years, FAC has garnered a good deal of criticism by member organizations.

Improving the Governance of the Food Aid Convention: Which Way Forward? summarizes the issues currently facing FAC with the key issue being the question of governance. “The FAC needs to become more transparent, coordinate better with other organizations, increase stakeholder participation and strengthen arm’s length monitoring and evaluation,” says Jennifer Clapp, who co-authored the policy brief with C. Stuart Clark.

“It has been suggested by member organizations that moving the FAC from its current location in London to either Paris or Rome, where it could link to other multilateral organizations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) or the World Food Program, would help overcome the Convention’s governance weaknesses,” adds Dr. Clapp.

Although moving the Convention’s governance to another city could go some way to revitalizing the FAC’s legitimacy, the authors argue in their policy brief that a more immediately achievable reform is the creation of a technical review committee that would foster the necessary coordination with external bodies with expertise in food aid, food security and humanitarian assistance that could be implemented regardless of where the treaty is located..

The technical committee would undertake periodic reviews, which would draw on the experience of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) peer reviews. A sample of FAC food assistance activities would be reviewed in order to improve the effectiveness of all food assistance activities in the context of contributing to global food security.

The technical committee would also convene regular meetings to discuss the periodic reviews noted above, which would include representatives of food assistance recipient countries and civil society organizations with relevant expertise. Such meetings could be held under the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). A report of the reviews and the outcomes of these meetings would form part of the FAC’s annual reporting.

The policy paper concludes the FAC could significantly improve its governance inputs and outputs immediately through this hybrid approach of the creation of a technical committee regardless of where the treaty secretariat is located.

Jennifer Clapp is CIGI Chair in Global Environmental Governance and professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the environment and resource studies department at the University of Waterloo. Her research covers the themes of global food and agriculture governance, food aid and the global food crisis. Her most recent books include The Global Food Crisis: Governance Challenges and Opportunities (co-edited with Marc J. Cohen, 2009, CIGI/WLU Press) and Corporate Power in Global Agrifood Governance (co-edited with Doris Fuchs, MIT Press, 2009).

C. Stuart Clark is the senior policy advisor at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a coalition of Canadian, church-related development organizations. He is also chair of the Trans-Atlantic NGO Food Assistance Dialogue (TAFAD), a consortium of European and North American non-governmental organizations dedicated to the reform of the international food aid regime. He has more than 30 years experience in food aid and agricultural development in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal and Vietnam.

Improving the Governance of the Food Aid Convention: Which Way Forward? is part of a series of CIGI publications on food-related issues. To view or download a free copy of the policy brief, visit: http://www.cigionline.org/publications/2010/9/improving-governance-food-aid-convention-which-way-forward

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The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, nonpartisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, advances policy debate, builds capacity and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI's interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2002 by Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM (Research In Motion), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit: www.cigionline.org

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