Regional strategy endorsed to improve animal welfare

Beef Central, 06/07/2012

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Assembly has endorsed the development of a new welfare strategy to guide on the ground activities in the Asia and Oceania region.

The Paris-based OIE is the international organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide, setting global guidelines for animal welfare issues for 178 member countries and 36 related international and regional organisations.

Australia has been instrumental in developing a new Regional Animal Welfare Strategy (RAWS) and Implementation Plan for the Asia, Far East and Oceania region of the OIE.

In a media release issued by the RWS Coordination Group this week, chair Dr Gardner Murray said the RAWS would guide animal welfare activities in a group of countries accounting for the majority of the global human and animal populations.

He said the strategy demonstrated a commitment by countries to improve animal welfare over the long term, notwithstanding the numerous cultural, socio-economic and religious differences between the 45 regional members, including the likes of India, China, Indonesia and Australia.

The strategy was a significant achievement that would advance the delivery of a coordinated campaign to improve animal welfare around the world, Dr Murray said.

The RAWS is an over-arching framework that takes into consideration recent advances in animal welfare science and guides countries in customising their own strategies to address local priorities for the improvement of animal welfare.

Member countries of the OIE and a number of related organisations are monitoring the model’s success with a view to implementing similar strategies in the OIE’s other four global regions – Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East.

Dr Murray said that while the initiative was off to a good start, ongoing effort, investment and political support would be essential to improving animal welfare.

The most recent RAWS Coordination Group meeting in April in Bangkok, Thailand, tackled animal welfare developments and priorities at organisational, national and international levels, including improvements in livestock handling and slaughter. 

“It is pretty clear from the country reports that the RAWS Coordination Group receives, that progress on animal welfare is being made in a number of areas such as legislation, training, disaster management, research collaboration, and awareness,” Dr Murray said.

“Although it is pleasing to see, improvements will take time and in many cases require significant cultural change."

Dr Murray is also the chair of the Australian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AusAWAC), which drives the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS).

The aim of AAWS is to assist in the creation of a more consistent and effective animal welfare system, with members including state and territory governments, livestock industries, research bodies, the sport and recreation sector, and education and training bodies.

The next meeting of the RAWS Coordination Group will take place in Malaysia in November in conjunction with the OIE’s 3rd Global Conference on Animal Welfare. The objective of the conference is to support the implementation by member countries of OIE’s Animal Welfare standards.

More information on the AAWS and its international activities is available at, and more information on OIE’s animal welfare standards is at


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