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Declaration for animal welfare ‘on UN agenda’

ANIMAL WELFARE moved one step closer to an unprecedented place on the United Nations agenda when representatives from more than 130 developing countries received an official briefing this month on a global initiative supported by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

The initiative aims to establish a United Nations Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare that would achieve global recognition of animals as sentient beings, capable of experiencing pain and suffering, and animal welfare as an important aspect of the social development of nations worldwide.

During the briefing, a presentation in support of the Declaration will be made by Minister Noah Wekesa, Minister of Science & Technology for Kenya, as well as several WSPA representatives.

Following the briefing, it is hoped that the G77 - which is made up of 132 member states and is the largest coalition of developing countries in the United Nations - will consider championing the Declaration. This would significantly increase awareness and support ahead of a ministerial conference planned for the end of 2007 in New York. If consensus is then achieved at that ministerial conference it is hoped that the Declaration will then be put before the United Nations General Assembly for adoption.

Noah Wekesa, Kenya's Minister of Science and Technology, said: ‘The world is waking up from its deep slumber to the fact that animals do matter. Animal welfare matters to people. It matters to our survival. It matters to our happiness. It matters to the environment. It matters to human health. But, most of all, animal welfare matters to the animals.’

Leah Garcés, WSPA's Director of Programmes, added: ‘The link between the United Nations and animals is very clear. Over 1 billion people depend on animals for their livelihood. We can no longer ignore our reliance on animals and the importance of their well being. Better care for animals can result directly in better lives for humans. This is an unturned stone on the path to progress, sustainable development and poverty reduction. It is time we turn that stone over and bring animals into the UN spotlight.’

The G77 - the group of 77 - was established on 15 June 1964 by seventy-seven developing countries signatories of the ‘Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries’ issued at the end of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva.

As the largest coalition of developing countries in the United Nations, the G77 provides the means for the developing world to articulate and promote its collective interests and enhance its joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues in the United Nations system, and promote economic and technical cooperation among developing countries.