Updated December 2014
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949. It is considered to be the bastion of human rights in Europe. Its aims are:
The Council of Europe became concerned about animal welfare because it realized that the dignity of mankind could not be disassociated from the respect man owed to his environment and the animals which inhabited it.
The Council of Europe believes that a society is hallmarked by the way in which it treats its less fortunate creatures. There is therefore a moral responsibility to make proper provision for their care and welfare.
The Council of Europe's website gives the full texts of each of the five animal welfare conventions (covering pets, animal experimentation, farm animals, animal transport and slaughter) and up-to-date tables showing member countries that have signed and/or ratified these.
The five Council of Europe conventions on animal welfare are as follows:
There are also two relating to the environment:
Once these conventions have been signed and ratified, they should be transposed into national law, and be enforced in practice.
The Council of Europe obligation is a moral one, rather than a legal one. However, it should be noted that the European Union has also passed Decisions on the conclusion of European Conventions no. 87 (farm animals), 65 (transport), 102 (slaughter) and 123 (experimentation). These decisions are legally binding upon EU member countries.
There are also detailed recommendations under some of the conventions, and the texts of these may be helpful as a guide to those drafting legislative provisions.