Law professor leads ABA call for new international animal welfare treaty

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MSU Law

The ABA House of Delegates adopted a resolution on Feb. 22 calling for the U.S. State Department to lead the negotiation of an international convention for the protection of animals to protect public health, the environment, and animal wellbeing.

David Favre, Professor of Law at the Michigan State University College of Law and member of the ABA’s International Animal Law Committee, helped to draft the full ABA report and resolution.

Favre observed: “Our planet is a shared space and our failure to ensure proper respect for the interconnectedness of human and animal life has had devastating consequences which have affected all of us. An animal welfare treaty is a unique opportunity to ensure minimum standards of conduct towards non-human animals that will have benefits not only for the welfare of the animals themselves but for public health and the environment. It is well
overdue and I urge the State Department to take up this challenge.”

The report supporting the resolution highlights how the risk of diseases spilling over to humans from animals (zoonotic diseases) is directly related to human mistreatment of animals, including through the wildlife trade and destruction of natural habitats from human activity and climate change.

COVID-19 is one such spillover event, but the list includes other deadly viruses such as AIDS, SARS, Nipah Virus, and Ebola.

While the report notes that this interconnection between public health, the environment, and animal welfare is recognized by the concept of One Health embraced by the United Nations and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no current international treaty by which nation states have agreed to minimal standards of animal welfare.

Favre and his colleagues on the ABA’s International Animal Law Committee maintain that a plethora of widely differing national standards is not an adequate response to risks that do not respect national boundaries.

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