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Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare

Member society programme helping owners care for their working horses, Guatemala

The future of animal welfare lies in achieving international recognition that animals matter. WSPA is seeking this in the form of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW).

This campaign stems from the belief that our close interaction with animals means we have a responsibility to protect their welfare.

A Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare will encourage governments to make and enforce laws that benefit animals – laws that can also help people and protect the environment.

What is it?

A Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare would be an agreement among people and nations that: 

  • animals are sentient and can suffer.
  • animals’ welfare needs must be respected.
  • animal cruelty must end for good.

To command the attention of all national governments, a UDAW must be endorsed by the United Nations (UN). This campaign seeks support from individuals and governments to make this happen.

What will it achieve?

”I feel compelled to support the campaign both as a concerned citizen with an interest in animal welfare and as a minister responsible for the protection of Brazil’s rich diversity of wildlife.” Carlos Minc, Minister for Environment, Brazil

The UN has adopted other universal declarations, such as that on the rights of the child, with huge impact.

A UDAW would inspire change at international, regional and national levels by: 

  • encouraging governments to improve their national animal welfare legislation
  • providing a basis for animal welfare legislation in countries where it does not currently exist
  • encouraging those industries which use animals to keep welfare at the forefront of their policies
  • mobilising and uniting the animal welfare movement behind a common goal
  • providing a useful framework to link humanitarian development and animal welfare agendas
  • inspiring positive change in public attitudes towards animal welfare.

How can protecting animals also help people?

Livelihoods: About 1 billion of the world’s poorest people rely on animals for their income. The welfare of these animals is essential to supporting human livelihoods – animal health improves productivity and creates stability, leading to sustainable development and protecting livelihoods. 

Environmental protection: Responsible animal management has positive impacts on land use, climate change, pollution, water supplies, habitat conservation and biodiversity.

Health: Good animal care reduces the risk of food poisoning and of diseases that are transmissible from animals to humans. Healthy animals also secure food supplies, helping protect people from malnutrition and hunger.

Companionship: All around the world, millions of people look to animals for companionship; the human-animal bond has proven therapeutic benefits. 

Read case study examples of how and why animal welfare matters >>

What can I do?

Tell the international community that you support this campaign.

Join WSPA, over 330 animal welfare groups, over 2 million compassionate individuals, and many supportive governments – including Cambodia, Fiji, New Zealand, Palau, the Seychelles, Switzerland and the 27 European Union member states – in calling for the development of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.

Say Animals Matter to Me today! >>

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Act now for animal welfare

Support a Universal Declaration to protect all animals

Elephants at a Kenyan orphanage run by a member society