Standards Setting Process

Developing OIE International Standards

OIE International Standards: How are they developed?

Specialist Commissions

The role of the OIE’s Specialist Commissions is to use current scientific information to study problems of epidemiology and the prevention and control of animal diseases, to develop and revise OIE’s international standards and to address scientific and technical issues raised by Members.

The OIE is continuing to improve the transparency of its standards development process, in order to have the best scientific basis for its standards and to gain their widest possible support. All reports from OIE Specialist Commissions are published on the OIE public website and incorporate as appendices the accepted reports from relevant OIE Working Groups and ad hoc Groups. The OIE does not solicit comments on these reports other than from Delegates, but will not refuse comments from organisations with an interest in the OIE’s work, as they often represent a very useful source of information. For more details, read the “Transparency in the OIE standards development process” paper.

  • Code Commission

    The Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission (the Code Commission), which was created in 1960, is responsible for ensuring that the Terrestrial Animal Health Code (the Terrestrial Code ) reflects current scientific information. The Terrestrial Code contains trade standards for terrestrial animals and their products.
  • Scientific Commission

    Founded in 1946 and composed of six members, the Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases (Scientific Commission) assists in identifying the most appropriate strategies and measures for disease prevention and control. It is also responsible for examining voluntary requests from OIE Members regarding their disease-specific animal health status.
  • Laboratories Commission

    Founded in 1949, the OIE Biological Standards Commission (BSC), composed of six elected members, is concerned with developing internationally agreed standards for laboratory diagnostic tests and vaccines for OIE-listed animal diseases of mammals, birds and bees.
  • Aquatic Animals Commission

    The Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission (the Aquatic Animals Commission), created in 1960, is responsible for ensuring that the Aquatic Animal Health code (the Aquatic Code) and Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals (the Aquatic Manual) reflect current scientific information.



The OIE Specialist Commissions shall be established by the Assembly in accordance with Chapter 5 of the General Rules.


The OIE Specialist Commissions shall each consist of a Bureau (composed of a President and two Vice-Presidents) and three other members.


For each Specialist Commission, the Assembly elects the members of the Bureau individually and then the other three members, taking into account the need for a geographically balanced representation, and the need for relevant expertise.

Members of Specialist Commissions are elected for a period of three years and shall be eligible for re-election.

In the case that a member of a Specialist Commission fails to participate in three consecutive meetings of that Commission without adequate justification, the position held by that member shall be declared vacant by the Director General.

In the case of a position falling or being declared vacant, the Assembly shall elect a new member to complete the term of office of the previous member.


Members of Specialist Commissions shall provide the Director General with a statement covering potential conflicts of interest between themselves and any commercial entity in accordance with the procedure established by the Director General. Members of Specialist Commissions shall respect the legitimate confidentiality of information with which they may be entrusted in the performance of their functions and shall submit such an undertaking to the Director General.


The Specialist Commissions shall meet at least once a year between the annual sessions of the Assembly. If necessary, meetings may be held jointly with other Specialist Commissions where there are matters of common interest. A special meeting may be organised immediately prior to the annual session of the Assembly.


The Bureaux of the Specialist Commissions shall meet alone at such times and places as may be determined by the Director General, in consultation with the President of the respective Commission.


Where appropriate, specialists designated by the Director General from national, regional, or international organisations or from OIE Reference Centres, shall attend certain parts of meetings of the Specialist Commissions or of the Bureaux for topics relating to their fields of competence. Such specialists shall respect the legitimate confidentiality of information with which they may be entrusted in the performance of their functions and shall submit such an undertaking to the Director General.


Each Specialist Commission may appoint a Rapporteur from among the members of the Commission. After each meeting, the President or the Rapporteur shall provide the Director General with a report on the proceedings of the meeting, a draft of a work programme and the proposed dates for the next meeting.


The Specialist Commissions shall make available to the Director General, by no later than 90 days before the opening of the General Session of the Assembly of each year, all texts which are to be presented for adoption or comments during the General Session. These texts shall be sent by the Director General to OIE Member Countries for examination and comment before the General Session of the Assembly.


The Presidents of the Specialist Commissions will report annually to the Assembly the activities of the respective Commissions and the draft of the relevant resolutions, standards, guidelines or other recommendations for adoption.


All formal correspondence between the Specialist Commissions and outside individuals or bodies shall be issued through the office of the Director General.


The Headquarters staff shall assist the Rapporteurs of the Specialist Commissions in recording meetings of the Commissions and preparing reports, notably by providing secretarial support and translation services.