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Draft Declaration on Animal welfare at universal level
UDAW Proposal

The following text is a new draft agreement (2011) which takes into account feedback from UN Member states, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. It develops the earlier draft arising from the Manila conference on animal welfare (2003) and the Costa Rica draft (2005) which incorporated suggestions made by the Steering Committee.

*Please note that this draft text is still under discussion and the declaration proposal has not been adopted yet.


Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW)

[1] AFFIRMING that animals are sentient beings and that their welfare is an issue worthy of consideration and respect by Member States;
[2] CONSCIOUS that humans share this planet with other species and other forms of life and that all forms of life co-exist within an interdependent ecosystem;
[3] EMPHASIZING that animal welfare should be guided by the best available science & ethical values;
[4] RECALLING that the “five freedoms (freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour)” provide valuable general guidance for animal welfare;
[5] CONVINCED that good practices in animal welfare can have major benefits for humans and the environment, and that inclusion of animal welfare in policy discussions can strengthen efforts by governments and the United Nations on a range of issues including human and animal health, food security, poverty & hunger reduction, disaster risk reduction & relief, environmental sustainability and social development;
[6] WELCOMING the FAO’s integration of animal welfare into its poverty alleviation, disaster relief and livestock development programmes, as outlined in the FAO Expert Meeting Report “Capacity building to implement good animal welfare practices” (2008);
[7] RECOGNIZING that many Member States already have a system of legal protection for animals, both domestic and wild, and that it is important to ensure the continued effectiveness of these systems and the development of better and more comprehensive animal welfare provisions;
[8] CONSIDERING that the promotion of animal welfare requires collective action and that all stakeholders and affected parties must be involved;
[9] ACKNOWLEDGING that the provisions contained in this declaration do not affect the rights of any Member State;
[10] NOTING Resolution XIV adopted on 24 May 2007 by the International Committee of the OIE (recognized as an international animal welfare standard-setting body) expressing support in principle for the development of a UDAW.

Proclaims the following Universal declaration as a means of improving the welfare of animals:

1 The clauses in the Preamble section are numbered for ease of reference for discussion purposes only.

  1. Article I:
    Animals are sentient beings and their welfare should be respected.

  2. Article II:
    For the purposes of this Declaration, animal welfare includes animal health and encompasses both the physical and psychological state of the animal. The welfare of an animal can be described as good or high if the individual is fit, healthy, free from suffering and in a positive state of wellbeing.

  3. Article III :
    Sentience shall be understood to mean the capacity to have feelings, including pain and pleasure, and implies a level of conscious awareness. Scientific research confirms that all vertebrates are sentient animals, and indicates sentience in some invertebrates. This is an active research area and knowledge of sentience of different species continues to grow.

  4. Article IV: All appropriate steps shall be taken by Member States to prevent cruelty to animals and to reduce their suffering. This Declaration provides a basis for states and peoples to:
    - work to improve their national animal welfare legislation
    - introduce animal welfare legislation in countries where it does not currently exist
    - encourage those businesses which use animals to keep welfare at the forefront of their policies
    - link humanitarian, development and animal welfare agendas nationally and internationally
    - inspire positive change in public attitudes towards animal welfare.

  5. Article V:
    Appropriate policies, legislation and standards on the welfare of animals shall be further developed and elaborated on the basis of this Declaration including, but not limited to, those governing the treatment and management of wild and companion animals, animals used in farming, scientific research or for draught and recreational purposes and those kept in captivity.

  6. Article VI:
    The policies, legislation and standards attained by each state on animal welfare shall be observed, recognized and promoted by improved practices and capacity-building, nationally and internationally. Whilst there are significant social, economic and cultural differences between societies, each should care for and treat animals in a humane and sustainable manner in accordance with the principles of the Declaration.

  7. Article VII:
    Member States are called upon to adopt all necessary measures to give effect to these agreed principles.