Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare

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The Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) is a proposed inter-governmental agreement to recognise that animals are sentient, to prevent cruelty and reduce suffering, and to promote standards on the welfare of animals such as farm animals, companion animals, animals in scientific research, draught animals, wildlife animals and animals in recreation.[1]

It is proposed that a UDAW be adopted by the United Nations. If endorsed by the UN (as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was) the UDAW would be a non-binding set of principles that acknowledges the importance of the sentience of animals and human responsibilities towards them. The principles were designed to encourage and enable national governments to introduce and improve animal protection legislation and initiatives.

It has been argued that a UDAW is consistent with, and could help secure the achievement of, the UN Millennium Development Goals.[2][3]

This should not be confused with the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights (UDAR) or the Universal Charter of the Rights of Other Species (2000)


The UDAW was conceived by World Animal Protection, which now acts as its Secretariat.[4] It is supported by four main partners: the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Compassion in World Farming, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).[5]

In 2003, the Manila Conference on Animal Welfare was attended by 19 government delegations with the European Council, United States and Saipan as observers. A foundation text for a UDAW was agreed.[6]

In 2005, the UDAW inter-governmental steering committee was formed and representatives of the governments of Kenya, India, Costa Rica, Czech Republic and the Republic of the Philippines agreed to champion the initiative. They lead a group of governments whose officials have stated support in the following years, including Australia, Cambodia, Fiji,[7] Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand,[8] Poland, Slovenia, Tanzania, and the UK.

In 2007, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) decided to support a UDAW,[9] as did the Commonwealth Veterinary Association (CVA)[10] and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE).[11] In August 2008, the national veterinary associations of Chile, New Zealand, the UK,[12] the Philippines, Thailand[13] and Colombia have all given public backing for a UDAW.

In April 2008, Eric Martlew MP put forward an early day motion in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom that “calls upon the Government to give its full and publicly-stated support for this initiative, including active support within the European Union and the United Nations.”[14]

In 2011 a new draft was proposed, taking 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."

Historical background[edit]

The lack of success in shaping internationally binding charters on animal rights has not been for want of trying. People in modern times have attempted to identify and advance the rights of animals at least since the 18th century. Credit usually goes to Henry Salt (1851–1939) for writing the first book on animal rights, published in 1892 and subsequently. And Salt traces efforts back to John Lawrence (1753–1839), one of the earliest modern writers on animal rights and welfare. Lawrence argued in his 1796 book, A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on Horses and the Moral Duties of Man Towards Brute Creation (T N Longman: London), that we have to care for animals and common law should support this principle in practice

The 20th century saw a number of international declarations supporting animal rights. Perhaps the most prominent venture was the announcement (The Times, 17 October) in 1978 at the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris of the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights. Among the Declaration's pronouncements were that all animals have the same rights to existence, no animal shall be ill-treated or subject to cruelty, animals shall command the protection of law, and dead animals shall be treated with respect. The Declaration, however, waned and faded away before it could reach significant levels of international agreement.

More recently some of the world's leading animal welfare organisations have started campaigning for the United Nations to adopt a new declaration. This time the declaration is on the welfare of animals: the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare. Why welfare and not rights? Probably because welfare is a softer option than rights and therefore easier for people to accept. Thus it has a better chance of endorsement and of enduring.

The animal organisations behind this new declaration envisage that signatory countries to the document will recognise animals as sentient beings. They hope their declaration will make animal welfare an important global issue, pioneer the way for legally binding international agreements on animal welfare and hasten a better deal for animals worldwide. Their declaration would also underscore the importance of animal welfare as part of the moral development of humanity. So far a number of United Nations member states are acting as a steering group to advance the initiative at the UN. See Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, below, for a draft copy.

Overview of the proposed declaration[edit]

A draft text[15] of the declaration calls for:

  • Recognition that animals are living, sentient beings and therefore deserve due consideration and respect
  • Recognition that animal welfare includes animal health, and that veterinarians have an essential role in maintaining both the health and welfare of animals
  • Recognition that humans inhabit this planet with other species and other forms of life and that all forms of life co-exist within an interdependent ecosystem
  • Recognition of the importance of the ongoing work of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in setting global standards for animal welfare
  • Agreement that the term ‘state’ includes people and civil society
  • Acknowledgment that many states already have a system of legal protection for animals, both domestic and wild
  • Seeking to ensure the continued effectiveness of these systems and the development of better and more comprehensive animal welfare provisions
  • Acknowledgement that the humane use of animals can have major benefits for humans
  • Awareness 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)[16] and the Three Rs (reduction in numbers of animals, refinement of experimental methods and replacement of animals with non-animal techniques)[17] provide valuable guidance for the use of animals
  • Recognition that the provisions contained in this declaration do not affect the rights of any state.

The principles of the declaration are:

  1. The welfare of animals shall be a common objective for all states
  2. The standards of animal welfare attained by each state shall be promoted, recognized and observed by improved measures, nationally and internationally
  3. All appropriate steps shall be taken by states to prevent cruelty to animals and to reduce their suffering
  4. Appropriate standards on the welfare of animals will be further developed and elaborated, such as those governing the use and management of farm animals, companion animals, animals in scientific research, draught animals, wildlife animals and animals in recreation.

Public campaign[edit]

The public campaign to gain support for a UDAW, branded ‘Animals Matter’, was launched in June 2006. It reached one million signatures in December 2007 with the President of Costa Rica, Sr. Oscar Arias, becoming the official one millionth signatory and hosting celebrations in San José, Costa Rica in March 2008.[18] As opposed to DUBA: organizations that defenders animal's rights around the world hope that the UN approves the DUDA (Universal Declaration of Animal Rights) that differs from the UDAW arguing that animals have rights and not only freedoms, this including to the state's duty to preserve those rights and not just the owners of these animals banishing population control using euthanasia. Escuchar Leer fonéticamente Diccionario - Ver diccionario detallado

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (This is the 2005 draft version. See reference to a newer 2011 version in the history section. Note that as at June 2012 this is still a draft proposal, not an international treaty in force. )
  2. ^ See No.6 of Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare – Questions and Answers
  3. ^ Article by Sir David Madden on Re-public website, accessed 5 August 2008
  4. ^ Back a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, World Animal Protection. Accessed 26 June 2014.
  5. ^ HSI Supports "Animals Matter to Me" Campaign from HSUS website, accessed 5 August 2008
  6. ^ Initial draft text arising from the Manila Conference on Animal Welfare (2003) and the Costa Rica Steering Committee Meeting (2005) accessed 5 August 2008
  7. ^ 28/7/08 - Fiji to support Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) on Fiji Government Online Portal, accessed 5 August 2008
  8. ^ 'Animal welfare and the OIE’ in Biosecurity Magazine, Issue 79, 1 November 2007, accessed 5 August 2008
  9. ^ OIE Resolution No. XIV accessed 5 August 2008
  10. ^ See Commonwealth Veterinary Association (CVA) adopts Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) on BVA website, accessed 5 August 2008
  11. ^ Letter of support for UDAW from Federation of Veterinarians of Europe accessed 5 August 2008
  12. ^ See 23 April 2008: Global responsibilities for animal welfare: BVA President calls on the veterinary community to sign up to UDAW on BVA website, accessed 5 August 2008
  13. ^ 'WSAVA Member Association Updates: BVA and VPAT sign Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW)' on World Veterinary Association website, accessed 5 August 2008
  14. ^ Text of EDM 1467 accessed 5 August 2008
  15. ^ Query which version of the text is referred to in this section. See link above to new version in 2011 for a recent text.
  16. ^ The Five Freedoms as defined on the Farm Animal Welfare Council website, accessed 5 August 2008
  17. ^ For definition, see 7.1 of Chapter 7: The Three R's: Alternatives to animal experiments by the Select Committee on Animals In Scientific Procedures, accessed 5 August 2008
  18. ^ See Costa Rica makes animal welfare a presidential matter on WSPA UK website, accessed 5 August 2008



Further reading[edit]

Appleby, M.C. and Sherwood, L. (2007) Animal Welfare Matters to Animals, People and the Environment: The case for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, London: WSPA.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]