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71st Annual General Session of the International Committee of the Office International des Epizooties

18-23 May 2003

The 71st annual General Session of the International Committee of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), which is the World Organization for Animal Health, was held in Paris from 18 to 23 May 2003.
Approximately 500 participants representing the Member Countries, the intergovernmental organisations and numerous non-governmental organisations took part in this event. This year, the Session was honoured by the presence, alongside the President and the Director General, of the Ministers of Agriculture of Bolivia, Djibouti, France, Indonesia, Mongolia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Senegal and Vanuatu as well as of the Under-Secretary of Agriculture of the United States of America, the Vice Minister of Agriculture of Japan and the representative of the Director General of the FAO.

The main points dealt with during the Session were as follows:

  • Changes in the distribution of animal diseases and zoonoses worldwide;
  • Within the framework of its standard-setting work, the Committee approved international standards on the sanitary safety of world trade in animals and animal products, notably in the area of risk management relating to foot and mouth disease and BSE;
  • The Committee adopted resolutions on control methods for specific animal diseases and zoonoses, such as avian influenza;
  • The Committee proceeded to elect its new President, Dr. Bouna Niang from Senegal and the members of the OIE Commissions (Administrative Commission, Regional Commissions and Specialist Commissions);
  • Special attention was given to the evolution of the new fields of activity for the OIE, "animal welfare" and "food safety". In particular, the International Committee studied the proposal for the "First Global Conference on Animal Welfare", due to take place at the OIE Headquarters from 23 to 25 February 2004. Hosting this important event is a concrete response to the wish expressed by the Member Countries during the 70th General Session for the OIE to become the leading organisation in the field of animal protection;
  • The General Session welcomed the accession of three new Member Countries: Djibouti, the Dominican Republic and Serbia-and-Montenegro. As of May 2003, the OIE has 164 Member Countries;
  • Three technical items were debated during the Session and gave rise to Resolutions voted by the International Committee:
  • The use of economic analysis to define animal health policies
  • Regionalisation as an instrument for preventing the propagation of animal diseases
  • The use of vaccination as an option for the control of avian influenza

The high level of scientific expertise of the speakers and the quality of the debates that followed the presentation of each technical item will have served to promote the global application of concepts that are essential for improved control of animal diseases and zoonoses.