Policy and Treaties

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Humane Society International engages with international agreements that either directly or indirectly affect animals on a large, global scale. The adoption or rejection of one international measure can affect thousands or even millions of animals. We actively lobby for stronger protections and against weakening of protective measures at the following:

The United Nations and its General Assembly and Food and Agriculture Organization address many issues involving animals and the environment. The Humane Society of the United States has had official consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1996.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a United Nations agreement that aims to protect certain species of wild fauna and flora against over-exploitation through international trade in animals, plants and their products. HSI experts regularly attend CITES meetings and contribute by preparing research materials for consideration by the country delegates.

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is a United Nations agreement that aims to conserve terrestrial, marine, and avian migratory species throughout their range. Range states may create global or regional agreements under the CMS umbrella for certain listed species. HSI is an official cooperating partner of the CMS and some of its subsidiary agreements, including the CMS Sharks MoU.

The International Whaling Commission regulates whaling and whale conservation. In 1982, the IWC voted to ban commercial whaling, a move that ended the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of whales. Despite the ban, Japan, Iceland and Norway continue to hunt whales commercially and work to overturn the ban. HSI experts attend the biennial meeting to fight for whales.

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) is responsible for the conservation and management of fisheries for tunas and other species – such as dolphins, sharks, sea turtles and seabirds – in the Eastern Pacific Ocean

The Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP) was formed under the IATTC to limit the number of dolphins that die from being caught in fishing nets targeting the tuna that swim beneath them in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. In the United States, tuna caught using this method cannot be labeled “Dolphin Safe,” but the AIDCP has a similar label used by other member countries in spite of the risk to dolphins.

The Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC) is an intergovernmental treaty that promotes the protection and recovery of the populations of marine turtles and their habitats in the Americas, including nesting beaches and territorial waters.

Free Trade Agreements such as U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) have the ability to both improve things for animals and threaten their welfare and survival. HSI has been on the front lines as a leading non-governmental organization (NGO) advocating for strong environmental and animal protection provisions in all free trade agreements negotiated by the US and the EU and is a member of the U.S. Trade and Environmental Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC).

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization established in 1995 to oversee the multilateral trading system.  It offers both a platform for negotiations of new rules and a mechanism to settle dispute over the compliance of existing rules.  The outcome of WTO decisions has the ability to either strengthen or weaken animal protection policies of member countries. Therefore, HSI pro-actively engages in WTO-related events like the Public Forum and submits amicus curiae on disputes involving animal protection policies.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) is an intergovernmental organization created in 1924 with the original goal of ensuring transparency and cooperation among veterinary services on matters of animal health and zoonotic diseases.  In 2001, the organization expanded its mandate to encompass the promotion of animal welfare. To reach these goals, OIE elaborates on animal health and welfare recommendations that (once approved by its country representatives) are included in its Code. In view of ensuring that the recommendations will uphold good welfare practices, HSI engages with OIE headquarters and with OIE member countries to fight for the most animal-friendly recommendations possible.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a non-governmental, independent organization that develops and publishes international standards for products, services, and systems. HSI has participated in the creation of an ISO Technical Specification on implementing animal welfare practices.

The World Bank is an organization of five institutions providing financing, policy advice, and technical assistance to governments of developing countries. HSI assisted in the creation of the International Finance Corporation’s Good Practice Note on Animal Welfare.