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Global Conference on Animal Welfare: the OIE confirms its role as a coordinator of guidelines on animal welfare world wide

Paris, 25 February 2004 - Over 450 participants from more than 70 countries attended the three day "Global Conference on Animal Welfare", organised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), in Paris.

The Conference confirmed the great interest in animal welfare issues world wide and proved that it is possible to have a constructive dialogue between institutions, stakeholders, scientists and non governmental organisations (NGOs) from all over the world, including developing countries.

After two days of excellent motivating presentations, all participants were given the opportunity to select one of eight discussion groups about land transport, sea transport, slaughter, killing for disease control, communications challenges in animal welfare, the role of veterinarians, animal welfare research and more general issues raised during the conference. The results of these discussions will contribute to the future steps and strategies to be taken by the OIE in animal welfare.

"We are encouraged in our role as a coordinator of guidelines on animal welfare world wide" the Director General of the OIE, Dr. Vallat said during his closing remarks. "Transparency and openness are key elements of the OIE policy. We are strongly committed to continue to apply those principles also with regard to animal welfare issues", he added.

The Conference also confirmed the essential role of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with regard to standards for international trade. It was strongly reaffirmed that science should always be an essential base for setting any international standard.

The role of developing countries has been of a particular importance. A clear message to cooperate in developing animal welfare concepts in their own countries has been given by many of their representatives during the conference, but it was also made clear that those countries need time and an understanding of their particular situation which sometimes leads to some constraints.

"We have more than 120 developing countries which are Members of the OIE. In order to allow them to endorse the animal welfare standards that will be applied by the international community, it is important to provide them with technical and financial assistance", Dr. Vallat said.

The key role to be played by all components of the Veterinary Services of Member Countries was highlighted in order to prepare and implement all relevant actions linked to animal welfare.

Due to the recent outbreaks of Avian Influenza in Asia, particular interest was given to the discussions of the syndicate group dealing with killing for disease control. The outcomes of this group will certainly be submitted for discussion by Dr. Vallat at the FAO/OIE Emergency Regional Meeting on Avian Influenza Control in Animals in Asia which will start tomorrow 26 February 2004 in Bangkok.