July 30, 2021
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Love Animal , Protect Animal – International Law on Animal Protection

Protection of Animal Rights is constantly taken into consideration in today’s world for the welfare of the animals and in order to expand the effects in a globalized setting. In fact, animal protection is not currently regulated by a globally recognized single, comprehensive legal instrument. It was very recently that some of the jurisdictions have begun to recognize animal rights, while some other domestic jurisdictions are increasingly moving towards the protection of animal rights. Hence, animal rights are still hardly recognized, it is necessary that these rights would be universalized in order to implement a convenient set of regulations specifically drafted for the protection and welfare of animals.

Animal Rights

While animal rights are increasingly protected by some jurisdictions individually, at present there is a significant gap in the international framework on animal protection. But purely, nation-state based animal protection regulations are not sufficient because the pertaining issue has now begun to affect globally. The demand for industrialized meat, dairy, and pet production is now growing rapidly in most of the developed countries and it is spreading to the countries in the global south and developing countries in which the requirement for animal products is steeply rising.

Those industries have become globalized, with transnational supply chains, and the manufacturing and trading circumstances have to lead to tragic violence against animals. In this case, it is of the utmost importance that all the citizens, political representatives, policymakers, lawyers, and scientists should consider attentively and form a globally recognized legal agreement specifically concerned with the protection and welfare of individual animals.

This article is composed of prevailing frameworks in international law which addresses animal protection in some way, but which by themselves do not meet the expected effectiveness due to the inadequacy of comprehensiveness and enforceability.

Global Regulatory Systems

Although there is no specific global regulatory system for the protection and welfare of the animals, the European Union (EU) has established a regional protection framework for their member countries. A compilation of directives and regulations addressing the aspects of animal welfare including the welfare of farm animals, the transportation and slaughtering of farm animals, possession of a range of farm animals (calves, pigs, laying hens, broilers, etc.) and regarding animal experimentation are set out in the aforementioned treaty.

This regulation was complex, and the EU has released an animal welfare strategy with more simplified general principles in place of the numerous specific instruments. An obvious weakness in EU regulation is that it only approaches a limited group of countries, and thus, it falls short of constituting a comprehensive global framework.

Beyond the regional domain of the EU, there are international agreements that give effect to the protection of animals, especially constituted for the endangered species. A significant example is the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which aims to ensure that international trade of specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Such treaties may include the requirements of humane treatments to the animals and the implications of animal welfare protection. Article VIII of CITES obligates the members to “ensure that all living specimens, during any period of transit, holding or shipment, are properly cared for so as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment”. As well, these provisions may be adopted into legislation by nation-states, giving a domestic effect to their treaty obligations.

World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)

In addition to EU convention and CITES, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which was established in 1924, and currently occupies a membership of 182 countries, is the intergovernmental organization that is responsible for improving animal health worldwide. One of the OIE’s missions is to ensure transparency and enhance knowledge of the worldwide animal health situation. A formal obligation of the OIE member countries is to submit the information of relevant animal diseases present in their territory, in the most timely and transparent way.

Apart from that, the OIE Global Animal Welfare Strategy was developed in 2007 with the objective of achieving, “A world where the welfare of animals is respected, promoted and advanced, in ways that complement the pursuit of animal health, human well-being, socio-economic development, and environmental sustainability”.

The first OIE standards on animal welfare addressed animal transport, the slaughter of animals, and killing of animals for disease control purposes. Subsequently, other standards included the use of animals in education and research purposes, controlling the stray dog population, and the welfare of equids.

OIE Standards

However, there are several reasons to be concerned about the extent to which the OIE standards can provide an effective internationally recognized framework for animal protection. The standards are not formally enforceable against the OIE members as the standards seem to be non-binding because of the language used in the codes. Also, animal welfare standards are not similarly enforceable under the World Trade Organization.

Furthermore, the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) and the UNESCO – Universal Declaration on Animal Rights (UDAR) have been established to ensure the welfare of the animals and to protect the rights of the different species respectively.

Lastly, although animal welfare is not effectively operating, there are now several visions emerging for how animal welfare protection could be achieved by enhancing the roles of the above-mentioned frameworks to meet the hallmarks of an effective global protection regime.


Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)- cites.org/eng

World Organization for Animal Welfare (OIE) – oie.int/animal-welfare/

by staff contributor



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