In view of the global situation with regard to COVID-19, international health authorities and some national authorities have issued recommendations on the conditions for organising events with a large number of participants, even going so far as to cancel such events. In this context, the Council of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
held three extraordinary meetings by videoconference in order to examine the consequences for the organisation of the 88th General Session of the World Assembly of Delegates (the Assembly)
initially planned to be held from 24 to 29 May 2020.
First extraordinary meeting of the Council
During the first meeting held on 6 March 2020, the Council decided to propose to the Assembly that the 88th General Session be held on 27 May 2020 in a reduced format dealing only with administrative matters, elections and certain technical resolutions, such as the official recognition of health statutes. An official communication concerning this decision was sent to the Delegates.
In the meantime, the disease situation has worsened with movement restrictions applied to various degrees by most OIE Members.
Second extraordinary meeting of the Council
In this context, on the proposal of the OIE Director General, Dr Mark Schipp, President of the Assembly, convened a second extraordinary meeting of the Council, which took place on 3 April 2020. The purpose of this meeting was to re-evaluate the decision previously taken. The Council carefully considered the matter and concluded that given the deteriorating global health context, it was not possible to maintain the date of 27 May 2020.
The Council identified various parameters to be taken into account for the postponement of the General Session, in particular those related to the evolution of the COVID‑19 pandemic and the uncertainties as to the duration of the containment as well as the modalities of deconfinement in France and in many countries of origin of the Delegates.
Several scenarios were identified, and the Delegates were consulted on this subject during the month of April. A total of 160 Delegates were thus able to express their opinion.
The Directorate General of the OIE used this time to prepare, with the support of an adviser specialising in International Organisations law, the legal bases of the alternative solutions envisaged.
Third extraordinary meeting of the Council
At the third extraordinary meeting held on 5 May 2020, the Council took note of the majority opinion of the Delegates (49%) to postpone the 88th General Session to 2021 with the possibility of adopting certain resolutions through an ad hoc procedure. Indeed, certain issues of importance both for the activities of the Members and for the institutional functioning of the Organisation needed to be examined without waiting for the 88th General Session to be held in 2021.
With these elements in mind, the Council:
- decided to cancel the 2020 General Session and decided to postpone it to 2021,
- examined an Adapted Procedure drawn up in accordance with the Basic Texts, which was prepared by the Directorate General with the support of a legal adviser,
- validated the process for implementing this Adapted Procedure,
- validated the list of 20 resolutions to be submitted for adoption via this Adapted Procedure.
A detailed information note was sent to all Delegates to present to them the principles of this Adapted Procedure and its implementation process so that they could prepare themselves in full knowledge.
All documents (note on the legal analysis of the Adapted Procedure and ballot papers) were sent to the Delegates of the 159 Members entitled to vote, while the Delegates of the 23 non-voting Members received the documents for information only.
The process took place in two stages: (1) approval of the Adapted Procedure, then (2) adoption of the 20 resolutions.
The entire process was physically managed by the OIE Directorate General, under the supervision of the President, Dr Mark Schipp (Australia), and the Credentials Committee consisting of two members of the Council, namely Dr Michael Modisane (South Africa) and Dr Hugo Federico Idoyaga-Benitez (Paraguay).
The process took place from 19 May 2020, the date on which the documents were sent, to 29 May 2020, the deadline for returning the ballots.
It was reminded that:
- all the documents necessary for the adoption of the Resolutions had been sent to the Members within the required deadline, i.e. 60 days before the date originally scheduled for the 88th General Session,
- the quorum (number of responding countries, including non-voting Members who had to acknowledge receipt of documents) is 92,
- the majority is calculated on the votes cast (number of positive votes cast by the 159 Members with voting rights),
- the Adapted Procedure must first be approved by a simple majority, so that the votes on the resolutions can be counted.
Due to a clerical error on Draft Resolution No. 7 on the recognition of the FMD status of Members, a second consultation was held until 12 June 2020. In support of this, a reasoned explanatory note was provided to Members. No adverse comments were sent to the OIE on this subject.
Results of the consultation
The results of the consultation of Assembly are as follows:
- 159 Members with voting rights received ballot papers to vote first on the principle of the Adapted Procedure and then on the 20 resolutions submitted for their approval;
- 23 Members no longer entitled to vote have received the documents for information, with a request to acknowledge receipt.
Calculation of quorum out of 182 Members:
- Number of voting Members who participated: 141 out of 159
- Number of non-voting Members acknowledging receipt: 16 out of 23
A total of 157 Members replying met the quorum (92) and an analysis was made of the votes cast by Members entitled to vote.
Approval of the Adapted Procedure: 141 Members took part in the vote
- Majority: 71
- Number of Members having adopted the Adapted Procedure: 141
The Adapted Procedure was unanimously approved and the votes on the resolutions were counted.
Results of votes for each resolution: 141 Members took part in the vote
- Majority: 71
- Results: all resolutions were adopted with a few abstentions or negative votes for some of them (see table below).
All results were communicated to the Delegates on 16 June 2020 and were published on the OIE website.
The Resolutions were immediately published on the OIE website.
By decision of the Council, the elections for the Director General and vacant elective positions in the Bureaux of the Regional Commissions (Americas; Asia, the Far East and Oceania) were not held in 2020. They are postponed to the General Session of 2021.
Regarding the election of the Director General:
- the candidates have been informed, as well as their National Authorities; they will be invited to confirm their candidacy in 2021;
- Resolution No. 6 on the exceptional extension of the mandate of the Director General until the 88th General Session (2021) having been adopted, the mandate of Dr Monique Éloit is extended until that date.
Activity reports | Status
Specialist Commissions, Working Groups, world health situation
In order to ensure the best possible information for OIE Members and partners, the presentations of the activity reports of the Presidents of the four Specialist Commissions and the two Working Groups, as well as the presentation of the world health situation, were the subject of documents and video recordings posted on the OIE website. These presentations were also the subject of press releases.
On 23 June 2020, the decisions on the statuses, i.e. the certificates, were individually sent to the countries concerned through diplomatic channels.
Annual activity report
The OIE annual activity report was published on the OIE website and was the subject of several press releases.
The President of the OIE, Dr Mark Schipp and the Director General, Dr Monique Éloit
warmly thank Members
for their understanding and support for the Organisation despite the constraints due to the COVID‑19 crisis.