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An OIE initiative









Global Conference on Animal Welfare

An OIE initiative

Animal welfare is a complex, multi-faceted public policy issue that includes important scientific, ethical, economic and political dimensions. Because of its growing importance in society, animal welfare must today be addressed in a scientifically credible manner. Due to the multi-faceted nature of the topic, it is essential to include all stakeholders in deliberations, to ensure cultural and religious sensibilities are addressed, as well as the economic issues. A science-based approach to animal welfare particularly oriented to animals in agriculture and aquaculture is essential to preserve its value and credibility.

There are many challenges that will have to be faced: how to apply guiding principles at the farm? How can stress of animals be measured objectively? How can science-based international standards be established?

For over 75 years, the OIE has played a key role in protecting animal health world-wide, being recognised by the World Trade Organization since 1994 as the international organisation for animal health. Due to the essential relationship between animal health and animal welfare, the representatives of its 164 Member Countries asked the OIE to take the lead role in animal welfare.

The Director General of the OIE convened an Ad hoc Group in April 2002, bringing together the best experts in the field from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures.
The International Committee of the OIE unanimously adopted the recommendations of the Ad hoc Group on animal welfare during its 70th General Session (May 2002). A permanent Working Group on Animal Welfare with the same membership was then established which held its first meeting in October 2002.

Recognising the importance of OIE maximizing transparency in its policy development, the Working Group examined the best options for incorporating the views of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including industry, in its work on animal welfare. The "Global Conference on Animal Welfare" was one part of the OIE's strategy. The primary objectives of the Conference were:

  • To give visibility to OIE's work and to explain the OIE's strategy on animal welfare to the widest number of stakeholders, and to obtain their support.

  • To enhance OIE's leadership role in providing global animal welfare guidance and standards.

  • To examine the role of stakeholders in the framework of the OIE standards development process and the most effective way they may contribute.

  • To stimulate links with international organisations liable to support OIE's work and to agree on how they can best contribute.

  • To consider the future role of OIE in animal welfare and its influence on Member Countries' decision-making worldwide.

  • To support the OIE in a science-based approach to the welfare of animals including the provision of international guidance and standards.