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The OIE Working Group on animal welfare

The OIE Working Group on Animal Welfare held its first meeting at the OIE Headquarters from 16-18 October 2002, following the resolution on animal welfare adopted by the OIE International Committee in May 2002. Members of the group were veterinarians and animal welfare scientists representing a broad range of countries and cultures.

Recognising the importance of OIE being transparent in its policy development, the Working Group discussed the best methods of working with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including industry   to the benefit of all parties. It proposed a conference on animal welfare now to be held in early 2004 to explain OIE’s strategy and work, to improve the global perception of the scientific linkage between animal health and animal welfare and to seek NGOs’ proposals on how they could pariticipate most effectively in the OIE activities.

The Working Group recommended that it act as a steering committee, influencing the work of specific ad hoc Groups through determining with the Director General of the OIE their membership and terms of reference, and acting in an oversight/review role. Its output will go to the Code Commission for endorsement and then to the OIE International Committee in May each year for discussion and adoption.

Recognising the sensitive issues involved in the development of animal welfare  standards but also that OIE will need to make progress in that direction, the Working Group recommended that ad hoc Groups initially develop more detailed statements on policies and guiding principles, specific to their subject, as a bridge between the generic OIE statement on policies and principles, and future specific animal welfare standards.

The Working Group developed a 2003 work programme, which addressed the following issues:

  • statements of mission, guiding principles and policies for adoption by the International Committee
  • development of expertise and stakeholder databases
  • animal welfare conference
  • proposals for terms of reference, scope and membership of ad hoc Groups, with possible meetings of two ad hoc Groups in the first half of 2003
  • increasing awareness of animal welfare in undergraduate teaching
  • increasing awareness of animal welfare research needs and funding requirements
  • promoting collaboration among academic and research institutions
  • communications plan addressing both internal and external audiences
  • identification of future activities and emerging issues.
  • The Working Group revised the scope, drafted terms of reference, and identified potential members for ad hoc Groups covering
  • animal transport
  • killing for disease control purposes and
  • humane slaughter (including a subgroup for religious slaughter)

The Working Group also recommended that the OIE continue to work with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Animal Transportation Association (AATA) on air transportation issues.