The OIE was created in 1924 by 28 countries, and thus predates the United Nations. The founding countries wished to implement an international agreement that would enable them to work together to try to put an end to the epizootics that were devastating their livestock. In particular, they sought an undertaking from infected countries to inform the others in case of an important sanitary event, thereby enabling them to take protective action. They also wished to have information on the most effective methods of controlling the most dangerous animal diseases.
Today, these objectives of sanitary and scientific information in the veterinary field are still among the priority missions of our organisation, both for diseases solely affecting animals and those also transmissible to humans.
In 1994, the Agreements that led to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) included specific measures on the management of sanitary and phytosanitary problems (SPS Agreements) relating to the risks posed by trade in animals and animal products. The standards, guidelines and recommendations issued by the OIE were designated as the international reference in the field of animal diseases and zoonoses. The WTO's choice of the OIE stems mainly from the fact that our organisation's decisions are exclusively science-based.
The objectives described above all converge hinge on the implementation of the main mission of our organisation:
To improve the health and the welfare of animals all over the world regardless of the cultural practices or the economic situations in member countries.
I have had the honour of leading this organisation since January 2001, after having long known and appreciated its role, first as a National Delegate to the OIE, then as elected President of the International Animal Health Code Commission. Visitors to our Web site will find answers to most of their questions on animal health, as well as on animal diseases transmissible to humans and several new topics for the OIE, such as animal welfare and animal production food safety.