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World Organisation for Animal Health

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The OIE's achievements in animal welfare

Animal welfare was first identified as a priority in the OIE Strategic Plan 2001-2005. OIE Member Countries mandated the organisation to take the lead internationally on animal welfare and, as the international reference organisation for animal health, to elaborate recommendations and guidelines covering animal welfare practices, reaffirming that animal health is a key component of animal welfare.

The development of standards

The OIE develops standards through the work of expert ad hoc Groups that are convened to develop draft texts for the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (Terrestrial Code). The draft texts are normally reviewed by the OIE Animal Welfare Working Group, which provides recommendations to the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission (Code Commission). Following review by the Code Commission, draft texts are sent to OIE Members for comment. After two rounds of comment, a draft text may be proposed for adoption in the Terrestrial Code, in accordance with the democratic and transparent Standard Setting procedures of the OIE. Reports of ad hoc Groups on animal welfare are normally released to the public as annexes to reports of the Code Commission. The Code Commission meets in February and September and its reports (in English, French and Spanish) are placed on the OIE Internet site after the meetings (normally in October and March).

History of the OIE’s global animal welfare initiative

The OIE Animal Welfare Working Group was inaugurated at the 70th General Session of the OIE in May 2002 and the first recommendations of the Working Group were adopted one year later. The OIE Guiding Principles on Animal Welfare were included in the Terrestrial Code in 2004.

The OIE convened a First Global Conference on Animal Welfare in February 2004. As well as the Veterinary Services in OIE Member Countries, the Conference targeted livestock producers and actors in the meat sector, veterinary practitioners and international non governmental organisations (NGOs) working in animal welfare. The main objective of the Conference was to raise awareness of, and to explain, the OIE's animal welfare initiative.

Since May 2005, the World Assembly of OIE Delegates (representing the 178 Member Countries and Territories) has adopted seven animal welfare standards in the Terrestrial Code and two animal welfare standards in the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Standards Code (Aquatic Code). These standards cover:


These standards are regularly updated to take account of latest scientific findings.

The Terrestrial Code Chapter on the Control of Stray Dog Populations falls within the OIE mandates for animal health, public health and animal welfare, as it addresses humane methods for the control of dog populations and the prevention of important zoonotic diseases, such as rabies and hydatidosis, in communities.

 The Second OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare entitled ‘'Putting the OIE Standards to Work” was held in 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 non governmental organizations (NGOs), strongly endorsed the fundamental importance of the active involvement of Veterinary Services and veterinarians for improving animal welfare. The most important outcome of the conference was the identification of key needs and tools to help OIE Members to strengthen their capacities, including good governance and relevant infrastructure, to implement the OIE standards.

The OIE is organising a Third OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare, to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 6-8 November 2012. The main objective of the Conference is to support the implementation by Members of  OIE Animal Welfare standards, with a focus on addressing regional specificities and expectations.

On the side bar to the right of this page you can find information on the membership of the Animal Welfare Working Group, as well as relevant presentations, meeting reports, reports of Collaborating Centers and a link to the Terrestrial Code online.


Last update :14 December 2011