Leading the pioneers of international animal protection

Ricardo Fajardo, Head of External Affairs at World Animal Protection talks about the Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare (UDAW) and how he belives it is important to make animal welfare matter in all countries.

The Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) is an initiative that acknowledges a set of principles for animal protection globally. When it is adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, it will be the first international instrument that will formally allow animal welfare to be recognised globally. We have plans for this to happen in the next two years, but it all depends on our ability to move countries to support it. We lead on these efforts, with support from partner organisations and other stakeholders like the OIE [World Organisation for Animal Health]. 

1. What impact do we hope UDAW will have for animals around the world?

The Declaration sets international principles that will inform the improvement of legislation to protect animals or introduce legislation if it isn’t already in place. It brings different stakeholders together, putting animals and their welfare at the forefront of their policies. As UDAW links animals with other international debates such as those in the humanitarian or development sectors, we expect the Declaration to inspire positive change in attitudes towards animals and animal welfare. Each nation can implement the principles of animal protection at their own pace.

2. What recent commitments have we seen?

We have a surge of countries in Africa expressing their support for the Declaration and commitments achieved at the recently adopted Animal Welfare Strategy and Animal Welfare Platform for Africa are linked to UDAW too [find out more about this soon].

3. Personally, have you seen a difference in the way governments, officials, and/or authorities perceive animals?

Most definitively. We have evidence to show that there are countries that have changed their policies as a consequence of formalising their support for UDAW. This has been the case in countries like Tanzania, Philippines and Panama were legislative changes have been inspired by UDAW to protect animals.  Importantly, these changes help us to engage with governments beyond UDAW and in support of our campaigns.  

4. What’s next for UDAW?

We will continue supporting global efforts to bring UDAW to the General Assembly of the United Nations. We will continue working in Africa and we’re looking for opportunities to influence the Pacific Island States too. As the External Affairs team expand their remit, we foresee a fresh bound of work in Latin America before the end of this year.  We have established robust streams of work in these three regions, so we see opportunities for gaining support there and make our numbers stronger. Albeit slow, the progress we have is promising and we’re excited to lead the pioneers of international animal protection!

For more information, please visit World Animal Protection's Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare web page. You can also read  a full length interview with Ricardo about UDAW here.