This paper is a quick summary of why there is a need for an international convention for the protection of animals.
Convention for the Protection of Animals - Link to Treaty
Statements of Need
Many critical human issues such as human rights and the environment have international components (such as treaties, conventions and declarations) as part of the struggle to find answers to human created problems. Until now the issue of the care and well being of the other inhabitants of this planet has had no equivalent focal point. Because of human greed, ignorance and vanity untold numbers of animals throughout the world suffer and die on a daily basis. While thousands of humans work daily to reduce this toll, a more visible, efficient and universal standard is needed. It is the acknowledged reality of the world that the immediate elimination of animal pain and suffering is not likely. Therefore, there is the need for a mechanism under which progress for animals can be realized as fast as moral persuasion, technology, economic development and political support will accommodate it. The adoption of a Convention for the Protection of Animals can be one important legal and political tool in the process of progress.
Some States have adopted serious laws for dealing with animal issues. Others have laws but inadequate enforcement resources or political will to carry out their laws. Some states have neither laws nor interests. At present there is no international standard by which to judge the efforts or legislation within one country. Also, at the moment every battle has to be fought over and over again in each country as those trying to help animal seek to justify new laws and restrictions. With a Convention for the Protection of Animals, there will be an accepted standard which is immediately accessible to all the States, organizations and individuals of the world. The existence of the Convention for the Protection of Animals will give more credibility and weight to all the local efforts on behalf of animals. The resources of local groups can be refocused from worrying about what the standards ought to be, to realizing the implementation of the standards.
The political process of seeking the adoption of the Convention for the Protection of Animals will increase the visibility of the animal issues and the priority such issues receive within governments. In order to negotiate the Convention a State will have to think about animal issues on other than an ad hoc basis and in other than an economic context. It will be an opportunity to raise the broader moral issues about the treatment of animals in full public debate. Another positive aspect of the process is that some centralization of animal issues within government should occur. This will provide the opportunity to create more visible and accountable positions within government bureaucracy.
Those who seek to make a profit off of animals and their products often seek to maximize profit by increasing the adverse conditions faced by the animals within the system, for example intensive factory farming. (If animals could form a union, then a counter force to this inherent pressure of profit maximization would be present, but they cannot.) If some companies try to provide for the needs of animals they face higher cost and therefore less sales. Unrestrained economic competition will always impose the most difficult conditions on the animals within the system. If there were world wide standards for animals within commerce, which assured a cruelty free life, then the forces of capitalism will have to look to other factors for increases in profit.
An additional reason for the creation of a Convention is the realities of international trade. Under existing provisions of the international agreement GATT, (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), concerns about animal treatment outside the boarders of a State, be it the killing of dolphins to obtain tuna, or the use of the leghold trap to obtain fur pelts, are insufficient to justify restrictions on the importation of trade goods into a State. Yet, trade limitations may be one of the strongest tools available in the international arena to move unwilling states toward compliance with international standards. The creation of a multilateral treaty in which trade limitations is an acknowledged possibility for noncompliance will supersede the restrictions of GATT, thus allowing the use of trade import restrictions to enforce international obligations.
What needs to be done? A small but growing number of organizations have come together under the umbrella of an Ad Hoc Forum for the Convention for the Protection of Animals. This Forum seeks to be the catalyst which will start and help sustain the discussion between the various States as they move toward treaty adoption. The primary roles for the Forum members will be four-fold.
1. Support the concept of an international Convention for the Protection of Animals by participating in the Forum and adding their name to the list of organizations supporting the Convention.
2. Educate organizational members and the public at large about the project with the goal of producing a positive political force within as many countries as possible for the creation and implementation of the Convention.
3. Identify members within governments who would be supportive of a Convention and educate and support them about the Convention for the Protection of Animals.
4. Help provide financial support for the diplomatic process between countries to assure that all interested States can participate.
It must be understood by all NGO's that the ultimate content of any international convention will be determined by the Party States that enter into diplomatic negotiations. Therefore, while it is without doubt helpful to provide the parties with a drafting document with which to start the process, it not necessary or appropriate to engage in the impossible task of satisfying every organization on every animal issue with which they have concern. The first goal is to get interested States into negotiations. The second goal will be to urge the States to be as protective and progressive as possible on all animal issues.
Please join with us and make this project a priority for the next few years. No one group or individual can make this happen by themselves, but by joining together we can be a loud and persuasive voice for the animals.
Submitted by the Ad Hoc Forum for the Convention for the Protection of Animals.