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Introduction

The OIE 3 rd Global Conference on Animal Welfare will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 6-8 November 2012. This follows two successful OIE global conferences on this topic (2004, Paris and 2008 Cairo, Egypt). The theme ‘Implementing the OIE standards - addressing regional expectations’ demonstrates the OIE’s understanding of the challenges faced by Members when implementing the adopted animal welfare standards and the willingness of the OIE, working in collaboration with governments and donors, to provide support within the framework of its global capacity building initiatives.

The OIE is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health and welfare worldwide and, in 2012, has 178 Member Countries and Territories. The main normative works produced by the OIE are: the Terrestrial Animal Health Code, the Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals, the Aquatic Animal Health Code and the Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals . OIE standards are recognised by the World Trade Organization as references for safe international trade in animals and their products. They are prepared by elected Specialist Commissions supported by expert groups, comprising internationally renowned scientists. Many of the experts work in the network of about 200 Collaborating Centres and Reference Laboratories that contribute towards the achievement of the OIE’s scientific objectives. The OIE maintains permanent relations with 36 other international and regional organisations and has Regional and sub-Regional Offices on every continent.

As at the 79 th General Session (May 2011), the World Assembly of OIE Delegates had already adopted seven animal welfare standards in the Terrestrial Code and two in the Aquatic Code.

OIE standards are applicable to all OIE Members, regardless of their different social, religious, cultural and economic situation. The animal welfare standards focus on the outcomes for the animal rather than the design of the system. This helps to provide flexibility to adapt the standards to local conditions, which facilitates implementation by Members.

The OIE does not have the mandate to police the implementation of its standards. Rather, it encourages Members and supports them in their efforts by providing technical advice and, within the resource limitations of the organization, capacity building for Veterinary Services (VS) and Aquatic Animal Health Services (AAHS).

The PVS Pathway is the OIE global framework for building capacity of VS and AAHS. It is a global programme for the sustainable improvement of VS and AAHS , based on the quality standards in the Terrestrial and Aquatic Animal Health Codes, respectively. Improving good governance of VS/AAHS is the foundation for improving the delivery of programs to protect animal health, public health and animal welfare. The activities of VS and AAHS are a global public good and are consequently eligible for appropriate national, regional or international public funding support. Veterinary services and the veterinary profession should provide leadership in relation to animal welfare.

Governments and donors continue to express strong support for the PVS Pathway – for more information see http://www.oie.int/en/support-to-oie-members/pvs-pathway/

Animal welfare was first identified as a priority in the OIE Strategic Plan 2001-2005. At this time, the OIE, as the international reference organisation for animal health and zoonoses, was mandated by Members to elaborate recommendations and guidelines on animal welfare, reaffirming that animal health is a key component of animal welfare. The OIE maintains a focus on the welfare of animals in agriculture and aquaculture, which make a valuable contribution to food security. In recent years, the OIE has also adopted standards on the humane control of stray dog populations, given its important implications for rabies prevention in animals and humans, and on the welfare of laboratory animals, which are essential to progress in some areas of scientific research.

Animal welfare is a complex, multi-faceted public policy issue that includes important scientific, ethical, economic and political dimensions. Because of its growing importance to society, animal welfare must be addressed in a scientifically credible manner. It is essential to engage with stakeholders on the development and implementation of animal welfare standards, to ensure that cultural and religious sensibilities are taken into account, as well as economic issues. The OIE standards are based on science because this is the sole ‘common ground’ for all Members.

Improving animal welfare globally: OIE achievements to date

1 st OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare - February 2004, Paris France.

As well as the Veterinary Services of OIE Member Countries, the conference targeted livestock producers and actors in the meat sector, veterinary practitioners and international NGOs working in animal welfare. The main objective of the conference was to raise awareness and engage with OIE Members.

2 nd OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare ‘'Putting the OIE Standards to Work” October 2008 in Cairo, Egypt.

More than 400 participants, who came from all OIE regions and from all relevant sectors, including government, industry, academia, research and NGOs, strongly endorsed the fundamental importance of the active involvement of Veterinary Services and veterinarians for improving animal welfare. The conference helped to identify needs and tools for OIE Members to strengthen capacities, including good governance and infrastructure (such as veterinary legislation), to implement the OIE standards.

The recommendations of the conference may be found at:

http://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Conferences_Events/sites/A_AW2008/home.htm

National Animal Welfare Focal Points

The creation of national Animal Welfare Focal Points under the authority of the National Delegate is one important means for helping to raise awareness of the standards and encourage countries to engage with the OIE on standards development.

Seminars for all OIE national Focal Points are delivered at least once every two years in each of the five OIE Regions, with the objective of training the Focal Points and facilitating the establishment of an effective network of relevant experts in the region and globally. Focal points are encouraged to establish and maintain a dialogue with the Competent Authority for animal welfare in the country and/or to facilitate cooperation and communication among several authorities, where this responsibility is shared.

Regional Animal Welfare Strategies

A Regional Animal Welfare Strategy (RAWS) can help Members to implement the OIE standards through activities such as education, regulation, research and development. With leadership from Australia, a RAWS was established in May 2008 in the Asia, Far East and Oceania (AFEO) region. This agreement serves to identify means to support the adoption of the standards by countries in the region.

Under the RAWS coordinating framework, countries have:

1) agreed on the importance of raising awareness and educating stakeholders and the public;

2) recognised that incremental approaches are needed to improve animal welfare practices; and

3) taken steps to establish collaborative working arrangements with other interested parties, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), veterinary practitioners, industry and academic institutions.

The future

Notwithstanding the progress made to date, there are still many challenges. In a measured manner, the OIE continues to develop new standards, while maintaining an emphasis on Members’ needs and the tools to help them implement the standards.

This conference will provide valuable inputs on the priorities of OIE Members with respect to animal welfare standards and related activities. The Director General will take full account of the issues and priorities identified by Members and partner organizations in presenting recommendations on the future animal welfare work program of the OIE, for endorsement by Members.


Documentation

Terrestrial Animal Health Code

Chap. 7.1 Introduction to the recommendations for animal welfare
Chap. 7.2 Transport of animals by sea
Chap. 7.3 Transport of animals by land
Chap.7.4 Transport of animals by air
Chap. 7.5 Slaughter of animals
Chap. 7.6 Killing of animals for disease control purposes
Chap. 7.7 Stray dog population control
Chap. 7.8 Use of animals in research and education
Aquatic Animal Health Code
Chap. 7.1 ntroduction to recommendations for the welfare of farmed fis
Chap. 7.2 Welfare of farmed fish during transport
Chap. 7.3 (Welfare aspects of stunning and killing of farmed fish for human consumption