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By Nick Mays

CHIEF VETERINARY Officers from across the world are backing the move towards a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare which is supported by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and is being recognised by a growing number of government authorities and international organisations.

Members of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) gave overwhelming backing to the initiative at their annual meeting in Paris on Friday 25 May.

Members of the OIE meeting voted in favour of the resolution to achieve worldwide acceptance of animal welfare as an important issue and called on governments to support the goal. The resolution states that the OIE decided:

* To support, in principle, the development of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare which calls on countries to acknowledge the importance of animal welfare and, at the same time, recognises the OIE as the established international animal welfare standard setting body

* To encourage the efforts of governments seeking to support this goal

* To encourage the efforts of globally recognised animal welfare organisations seeking to achieve this goal

Director General of WSPA, Peter Davies, said: ‘WSPA is delighted that the OIE is backing the Universal Declaration for Animal Welfare: this is a crucial moment in its realisation and such an important declaration of support and commitment from government veterinarians across the world.’

‘We will be working with them to encourage governments to improve protection for animal health and welfare. This move gives added impetus and urgency to our aim to end animal cruelty.

A Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare would have a real, long-term impact on the welfare of billions of animals worldwide.’

The WSPA-supported initiative for a Universal Declaration for Animal Welfare working with HSI, RSPCA, CIWF, IFAW and the ASPCA to be adopted by the UN is currently gaining momentum around the world:

• A global petition is close to achieving 500,000 signatures from members of the public all over the world

• Government authorities in Kenya, India, the Philippines, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic are officially backing the Declaration

*Website: www.animalsmatter.org