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  International Animal Welfare Issuesslide

FAO Initiative on Capacity Building to Implement Good Animal Welfare Practices

How does improving the well-being of animals benefit people? Does increasing animal welfare legislation and standards in developed countries offer opportunities or barriers to livestock producers in developing countries?

The Animal Production and Health Division at FAO has organised an "Open Forum on Capacity Building to Implement Good Animal Welfare Practices PDF to enable interested parties to present their views on improved animal welfare in the livestock sector.
Agenda PDF

Following the Open Forum, FAO has organised a four days Expert Meeting aimed at assessing the current knowledge on animal welfare standards, practices and policies, with the purpose of analysing possible impact and implications of animal welfare policies on the development of livestock sections in developing and emerging economies as well as of advising on how to support relevant capacity building in developing countries.
Executive Summary and Recommendations of the Expert Meeting Report ES FR PDF
Expert Meeting Report PDF

The European Commission is actively contributing to the initiative.

FAO Gateway to farm animal welfare

Following the initiative on "Capacity Building to Implement Good Animal Welfare Practices", FAO has launched a portal for Farmed Animal Welfare, which will be an all encompassing source of information about the welfare of farm animals to individuals and organizations. The portal consists of a documents section where legislation and publications can be easily accessed, a directory, a news and events section and also information about various projects, training, funding, employment, multimedia and other links related to farm animal welfare.

The Commission has actively contributed to the development of the FAO portal which has been launched in close partnership with key international partners in animal welfare such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Compassion In World Farming, the Latin American Poultry Association, Humane Society International, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Brooke, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the International Dairy Federation, the International Federation of Agriculture Producers and the World Veterinary Association.

See the FAO press released issued on the date of the launch

You can directly access the FAO portal from the link here below:

Collaborations between the European Commission and the OIE

Aiming to increase the awareness on its animal welfare standards, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), with the financial backing of the European Commission, organised in Panama City on 19-20 August 2008, the first OIE Inter-American Meeting on Animal Welfare.

The aim of the meeting was to support the implementation of the OIE guidelines on animal welfare.

The European Commission is actively working with the OIE to raise awareness on animal welfare issues internationally and to support the implementation of the OIE guidelines. This meeting was the latest in a series of successful events that have been co-organised by the Commission and the OIE, such as the Workshop "Animal Welfare in Europe: achievements and future prospects" (November 2006, Strasbourg) and the International Conference "Animal Welfare: New Horizons For The 21st Century, An International And Regional Perspective " (April 2007, Montevideo)

The meeting in Panama City was financed by the OIE World Animal Health and Welfare Fund, to which the Commission contributed 100.000€.

The 2nd OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare was held in Cairo from 20-22 October 2008, (the 1st OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare took place in Paris 2004).

The theme of this 2nd OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare, entitled 'Putting the OIE Standards to Work', was the worldwide implementation of the OIE Animal Welfare standards for the transport of livestock by land, sea and air; the slaughter of animals for human consumption and the killing of animals for disease control purposes.

The Commission fully supports the OIE in the implementation of their animal welfare standards and gave a contribution of 200.000€ to this Conference.

Conference Recommendations ES FR PDF

The OIE European Regional Meeting on Animal Welfare is held in Istanbul, Turkey from 16 to 17 of July 2009. The aim of this seminar is to discuss the implementation of the OIE animal welfare standards in the Region of Europe and to emphasise the importance of veterinary education in this field. The meeting in Istanbul is financed by the OIE World Animal Health and Welfare Fund, to which the Commission contributed 100.000 €.

Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare

The rules of international trade can have an immense impact on animal welfare, and mostly on the welfare of farmed animals.

The development of trade agreements can either undermine important legislative achievements, or offer relevant opportunities to promote animal welfare legislation and standards at the international level. Similarly, legislation approved by single countries and policies adopted by either farmers or retailers can have a major impact on the way farm animals are treated.

The European Commission (DG SANCO and DG TRADE) together with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Eurogroup for Animals, Compassion In World Farming and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), has decided to organize an International Forum on Global Aspects of Farm Animal Welfare on 22-23 April 2008 and a Conference on Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare on 20-21 January 2009.

Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare

Programme of the Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare PDF

The aim of the events is to bring together different constituents from all continents, who will present and discuss positive experiences of inclusion of animal welfare in the trade environment.

Through exchange and sharing of concrete case studies, the Forum and Conference should prepare the ground for and facilitate the adoption of similar policies worldwide.

Workshop "Animal Welfare in Europe: achievements and future prospects"

An international workshop on animal welfare, organised by the Commission, the Finnish Presidency, the Council of Europe and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), took place in Strasbourg on 23 and 24 November 2006, with the aim of bringing the gap between animal welfare legislation and its practical application.

Senior government and veterinary representatives from 50 countries in the European region took part in the workshop, which was hosted by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, in cooperation with the European Union and the OIE. They had the opportunity to exchange best practice solutions and discuss ways to overcome social, legal, and economic obstacles that hinder the effective implementation of animal welfare guidelines throughout Europe.

The workshop also allowed the CoE, EU and OIE to consider how their existing activities could complement each other, with a view to maximising the efforts being made to improve animal welfare in Europe.

At the end of the workshop, the Council of Europe (CoE), the European Union (EU) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) adopted a joint declaration pdf entitled “Animal Welfare in Europe: achievements and future prospects”. In the Declaration, the Council of Europe, the OIE and the European Union commit to providing mutual support and cooperating on all aspects of animal welfare, from the elaboration of legislation, to the training of veterinary professionals and para-professionals, to raising public awareness of the societal value of animal welfare.

The important link between animal welfare and the need for adequate scientific and veterinary expertise is stressed in the document. Furthermore, the Declaration commits to efficiently assisting countries to comply with, develop or enforce animal welfare laws, standards and guidelines at a national level.

Conference "Delivering Animal Welfare and Quality: Transparency in the Food Production Chain"

The Swedish Presidency of the EU organized an animal welfare conference on 8-9 October in Uppsala – "Delivering Animal Welfare and Quality: Transparency in the Food Production Chain". The conference was opened by the European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and the Swedish Minister for Agriculture Eskil Erlandsson. The aim of the conference was to present the results of the Welfare Quality research project and to explore future ways to strengthen animal welfare in the EU and internationally. For further information please go to:

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

On 23-25 February 2004 the OIE organised the first global conference on animal welfare at its headquarters in Paris. For more information, see the Q&A de fr pdf and the dedicated OIE website.

The EU fully supports the initiative of the OIE regarding animal welfare and hopes to concretely contribute to the process, in particular in relation to this global conference.

The primary objective of the Conference was to improve the global understanding of the linkage between animal health and animal welfare and to seek NGOs' input on how they, as bodies representing the views of stakeholders in many countries, could contribute most effectively to the OIE's work.

The Conference brought together stakeholders (governmental authorities, scientists, private sector and non profit NGOs) from around the world to support OIE in its animal welfare activities and to assess the way they should contribute most effectively. Proceedings pdf of the conference have now been published.

In May 2002 the OIE adopted a Resolution on Animal Welfare pdf The 167 member countries of the OIE have accepted to start the development of policies and guiding principles to provide a sound foundation from which to elaborate specific recommendations and standards.

The first meeting of a Working Group was held from 16 to 18 October 2002 in Paris.

In particular it examined the best options for incorporating the views of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including industry, in its work on animal welfare. The International Committee of the OIE adopted in May 2003 a Resolution that supports the work program of the OIE in this field and the organisation of the first global conference on animal welfare and calls for support to the initiative.

On 25 May 2004 the International Committee of the OIE adopted Resolution No. XXVI es fr pdf which recognised that work on developing guidelines for animal welfare priority topics was already underway and highlighting that the active involvement of all OIE Member Countries would be essential to the success of the initiative.

Specific articles on guiding principles for animal welfare and the scientific basis for guidelines for animal welfare were introduced into the Terrestrial Animal Health Code in 2004. The Code also contains details on principles applicable to all forms and specific forms of transport, as well as guidelines for the welfare of animals during transport by air.

The OIE has also established four ad hoc groups to develop animal welfare guidelines concerning the land and sea transport of animals, the slaughter of animals for human consumption and the humane killing of animals for disease control. The guidelines developed by these ad hoc groups were adopted at the May 2005 OIE General Session, as well as a Resolution concerning future OIE activities on animal welfare.

An OIE resolution, voted unanimously by the 167 member countries, created in 2004 the World Health and Welfare Fund to help developing countries meet international standards for dealing with disease outbreaks, animal welfare and related issues.
On 20 October 2006 five international organisations met in Paris as the Advisory Committee for the OIE’s World Animal Health and Welfare Fund.

The OIE has also just published the review " Animal Welfare: global issues, trends and challenges", the second major animal welfare publication in the OIE's quarterly Scientific and Technical Review series (previous animal welfare specific issue published in 1994). This publication provides an overview of the animal welfare role played by veterinary services in OIE Member Countries and includes review articles on specific international animal welfare issues.

On 8 December 2009, in Paris an OIE meeting was organised to present the content of a publication on animal pains ("Douleurs animales"), related to farm animals (except fur animals). This paper is a follow up action of a series of meetings on animal and society in France ("Rencontres Animal et Société") organised by the French government. The paper was prepared in 2009 by a group of philosophers, economists and scientists (including medical doctors). For more information go to:

Animal welfare legislation on farmed animals in Third Countries and the implications for the EU

In November 2002 the Commission adopted a Communication to the Council and European Parliament pdf comparing animal welfare standards in the European Union with standards in third country trading partners. The Report analyses ways to avoid potential competitive disadvantages and subsequent deterioration in animal welfare standards as a result of disparities in measures.

The study shows that there is no international consensus on the role of animal welfare and the measures in place in the EU cannot be readily compared with the standards in third countries.

A key issue for the report was whether competitive disadvantages arise from disparities in animal welfare measures. The evidence available suggests that competitive distortions are most likely to arise in the more intensive forms of agricultural production, notably in the pig and poultry sectors.

Starting from the assumption that competitive distortions (whether to the advantage or disadvantage of EU producers) arising from differences in standards have the clear potential to undermine higher animal welfare, the report investigates a number of channels to prevent such a development:

  • Market mechanisms - consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for "ethical" products;
  • Dialogue at the international level aiming at greater recognition of animal welfare, in particular in the framework of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) and the Council of Europe;
  • Promotion of animal welfare standards in trade arrangements;
  • Within the Commission, DG TRADE is responsible for general trade issues, including negotiations in the WTO), DG Agriculture as far as trade in agricultural products is concerned;
  • Improvement of labelling regimes to respond to consumer demands for higher standards;
  • DG Agriculture is responsible for the labelling of agricultural products, for other labelling questions DG Enterprise is the responsible Commission service;
  • Strengthening the position of animal welfare in EU agricultural policy as part of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy focusing on "quality rather than quantity";
  • The web site of DG Agriculture informs about the ongoing reform of the Common Agricultural Policy;

The pros and cons of each path are analysed in the document with a particular focus on the implications of animal welfare as regards animal health, food safety and consumer concerns. The Report concludes that efforts must concentrate on all fronts in order to cope with the complexity of animal welfare and its ethical and cultural dimension.

Council of Europe

In 1988 the Community ratified the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes. The Community and the Member States are parties to the Convention. They also participated in the process of drafting and adoption of recommendations for the welfare of different animal species which are elaborated by the Standing Committee of the Convention. The Member States are expected to give effect to the recommendations.

In the framework of this Convention recommendations on the protection of duck and geese and of fur animals entered into force. The Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare´s (SCAHAW) opinion on Welfare aspects for the production of foie gras in ducks and geese pdf served as reference for these recommendations.

A Recommendation concerning turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo ssp.) was adopted by the Standing Committee on 21 June 2001 in Strasbourg and entered into force on 21 December 2001. The recommendation recognises that some methods of husbandry at present in commercial use fail to meet the biological needs and hence result in poor welfare. Therefore all Contracting Parties shall encourage research on the development of new husbandry systems and methods of breeding and management in line with the Convention so that the needs of the animals can be met. The environment and management practices must fulfil the animal's biological needs rather than trying to adapt the animals to the environment by procedures such as mutilation. The recommendation shall be reviewed within 5 years of coming into force.

A recommendation on the protection of animals kept for fur production was amended in 1999. General requirements for the farming of the following species are provided: mink, polecat, ferret, fitch, foxes, coypu, nutria and chinchilla. On 12-13 December 2001, the SCAHAW adopted an opinion on The Welfare of Animals kept for Fur Production pdf.

In 1998 the Community adopted a decision to approve the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter. The formal ratification process is not completed yet.

On 11 June 2003 the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers adopted the revised Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport. The Convention will be opened for signature by Council of Europe member states and the European Union on the occasion of the 113th session of the Committee of Ministers in Chisinau, Moldova on 5 November 2003.

  • See this related press release : Commission proposes signing the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Animals during International Transport

EU signs Council of Europe Convention on international animal transport, Luxembourg, 21 June 2004

In June 2004 the EU signed the Council of Europe European Convention for the protection of animals during International Transport.

On 2 December 2004 the Standing Committee of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for farming purposes adopted a recommendation concerning pigs which replaces the recommendation concerning pigs adopted on 21 November 1986. A draft recommendation concerning farmed fish has also been developed which is expected to be adopted by the Standing Committee in November 2005.

World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The Commission has undertaken to raise the issue of animal welfare in the new WTO negotiating round. However, during the negotiations in Seattle in 1999 there was no support for the approach as proposed by the Community. The Commission continued nonetheless to work towards international acceptance of animal welfare concerns during the WTO ministerial conference in Doha in November 2001.

Norwegian Animal Welfare Action Plan

The Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture took an initiative in 2001, which resulted in the publishing of a white paper (Proposition to the Storting) regarding animal husbandry and animal welfare. The white paper was published in 2002 and constitutes a broad review and evaluation of all animal care in Norway from an ethical and welfare perspective. It also includes proposals for long term goals and actions, hereunder an ethical platform.



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