Delegates to the 85th General Session of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) have adopted the first global strategy on animal welfare.
The OIE is responsible for setting internationally recognised animal health and welfare standards.
The new strategy is built on the experiences and outcomes of OIE regional animal welfare strategies and platforms already in use around the world.
It seeks “a world where the welfare of animals is respected, promoted and advanced, in ways that complement the pursuit of animal health, human well-being, socio-economic development and environmental sustainability.”
The strategy got its first endorsement last December in Mexico at the OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare. It has now been adopted by delegates to last week’s General Session in Paris.
The gathering was attended by nearly 900 participants, representing 180 member countries, as well as numerous scientists and observers from 43 international, intergovernmental, regional and national organisations.
The new welfare initiative recommends the creation of a forum to provide a platform for discussion between technical experts and stakeholders.
The strategy is based on four pillars:
- Development of international animal welfare standards, based on both science and practical experience;.
- Enhancement of capacity-building and training of veterinary services;
- Communication with governments, national and international organisations, veterinary services, educational institutions and the public to raise awareness on animal welfare;
- The progressive implementation of OIE standards on animal welfare and their corresponding policies.
The British-based charity The Donkey Sanctuary, which works to improve the lot of working animals around the world, had a team in Paris for the session. It welcome the adoption of the new strategy.
The charity said the OIE was one of the most important international groups that it engaged with.
“What’s considered poor animal welfare in one country might be seen as acceptable in another, so having a set of guidelines that governments and authorities accept and follow is crucial,” the charity said, adding that decisions in Paris might end up improving the lives and welfare of donkeys from Peru to Pakistan.
It said such gatherings provided an opportunity to meet delegates and provide reasons for strengthening or introducing measures to improve animal welfare.
It said delegates had eagerly discussed how the charity could help to get the new guidelines implemented and benefitting working animals.
“This is something that we’ll be working on with World Horse Welfare, the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad and The Brooke and we’ll be letting you know just how we’re going to do that over the coming months.”