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International Agreements


Updated December 2014

A small number of intergovernmental treaties exist which are concerned with the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitats on a global scale. However, only the OIE standards are concerned purely with animal welfare.

OIE - World Organization for Animal Health
CITES/Washington Convention
World Heritage Convention
Bonn Convention
IATA (International Air Transport Association) 
IWC (The International Whaling Commission) 

OIE - World Organization for Animal Health

The OIE has been mandated by its members (180 member countries as at October 2014) to take the lead internationally on animal welfare. It has a raft of international standards on different aspects of animal welfare, which have been agreed by its members and should now be placed into law and implemented in each member country. It is also spearheading the development of regional animal welfare strategies (designed to incrementally improve the status of animal welfare in each region). It holds a Global Conference on Animal Welfare once every four years.

WAN is a member of the International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW), which represents non-governmental animal welfare organizations from all over the world at the OIE.

For further information, see:

OIE Achievements in Animal Welfare
International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW)

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, entered into force on 1 July 1975 and now has a membership of 180 countries.

CITES Home Page

WWF Information on CITES


The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international co-operation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 168 Contracting Parties to the Convention.

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

World Heritage Convention

This convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted in 1972. Protecting natural and cultural properties of outstanding universal value against the threat of damage in a rapidly developing world is among the provisions.

UNESCO Information on the World Heritage Convention

Bonn Convention

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals 1979 (also known as CMS or the Bonn Convention) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. Since the Convention's entry into force on 1 November 1983, its membership has grown steadily to include 120 Parties.

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Website, which includes information on the Bonn Convention.

IATA (International Air Transport Association)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is an association of airlines founded in 1945 by airline operators seeking to promote "safe, regular, and economical air transport." IATA publishes Live Animal Regulations (in English, French, Spanish and Chinese). These regulations are the industry's minimum standards for the international transport of animals.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species - CITES - now recommend that its parties adopt the Live Animal Regulations as their official guidelines for the transportation of endangered species.

IATA has its European office in Geneva and its head office in Montreal. Copies of the Regulations can be obtained direct from IATA at:
200 Peel Street
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3A 2RA

The IATA Website

IWC (The International Whaling Commission)

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the international body responsible for the regulation of whaling. The IWC was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which was signed in Washington DC on 2 December 1946. The purpose of the Convention was to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry. But the IWC's attitude toward whaling has changed over the years - towards protection of whales, rather than exploitation.

The Home Page of the IWC
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

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