The AVMA is supporting, in concept, the development of Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, which is intended to serve as a global benchmark to guide member states of the United Nations when policies are formulated addressing animals nationally and regionally.
The AVMA was asked by Dr. David Wilkins, chief veterinary adviser for the World Society for the Protection of Animals, to issue a statement supporting the universal declaration. The Animal Welfare Committee recommended that the Executive Board issue a statement of conceptual support, and the board agreed.
The UDAW is described by WSPA as "an agreement among people and nations to recognize that animals are sentient and can suffer, to respect their welfare needs, and to end animal cruelty—for good.
"The declaration would be structured as a set of general principles that acknowledge and emphasize the importance of animal welfare," according to the recommendation. "The principles would encourage all nations to put in place, or where they already exist, to improve animal welfare laws and standards. The UDAW would not be a proscriptive piece of binding legislation and is therefore not concerned with attributing legal rights to animals."
In a letter informing Dr. Wilkins of the board's decision, Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO, wrote that the underlying objectives of the declaration are aligned with the Association's Animal Welfare Principles.
"We recognize the principles comprising the UDAW have not been finalized and will be developed over the next few years," Dr. DeHaven wrote. "We look forward to the opportunity to participate in that important process."