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The International Coalition for Animal Protection (ICFAP) was founded on the One Health principle that advancing the well-being of animals is critical not just for the animals but also for humans and our shared environment.
The focus of ICFAP’s efforts is the draft Convention on Animal Protection for Public Health, Animal Well-Being, and the Environment known as the CAP, a proposed treaty that establishes international minimum standards for the proper care and treatment of animals and creates a first-of-its-kind international forum to build upon those standards through additional protocols. The draft grew from a resolution of the House of Delegates of the world’s largest association of lawyers, the American Bar Association, which “urg[ed] all nations to negotiate an international convention for the protection of animals that establishes standards for the proper care and and treatment of all animals to protect public health, the environment, and animal wellbeing.” The full CAP treaty text can be accessed here. ICFAP is an accredited 501(c)(3) non-profit organizationREAD THE FULL CAP TREATY
Animal Well-Being, Human Health and Environmental Sustainability Are Inextricably Linked
In the face of global interrelated crises—including pandemics, biodiversity collapse, and climate change—the need to secure the well-being of animals has never been more vital. The One Health concept embraced by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Center for Disease Control confirms that our health as humans is inextricably tied to that of animals and the environment we share. As the Head of the WHO noted in February 2021 during the pandemic, “We can only prevent future pandemics with an integrated One Health approach to public health, animal health and the environment we share”. Without protecting the well-being of animals, we cannot secure our own well-being or that of the planet. Neither can any nation alone hope to regulate these issues in an effective manner without binding commitments from other countries.
The tragic yet preventable loss of over six million lives globally as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak represents just one example of how zoonotic outbreaks may result from the international community’s failure to establish binding standards to secure minimum standards of animal well-being with grave consequences for humans and animals alike. The great weight of evidence indicates that the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged from the Wuhan live animal market where wild animals had been taken out of their natural habitat and crowded into stressful, unsanitary conditions before slaughter, enabling the pathogen to spread and mutate before spilling over into humans. The SARS outbreak was believed to have similar origins. While COVID-19 and SARS are the most reported examples, they join a growing list of other such zoonotic outbreaks—such as HIV-AIDS, avian flu, Nipah Virus, Ebola, Marburg and Monkeypox—that might have been prevented through the adoption of binding international standards for the proper care and treatment of animals.
Similarly, as scientists warn, the world is on the precipice of cascading biodiversity loss, with numerous species poised to become extinct. While world leaders have undertaken to stem if not reverse this trend, such efforts are broadly focused at the species level. This approach fails to consider the animals themselves, whose individual well-being must also be protected for species to thrive.
One health (who.int)
Climate change is the existential threat of our time, but climate policy neglects the ways our treatment of animals contributes to the problem and could provide solutions. Animal agriculture’s significant greenhouse gas emissions are largely neglected in policy. Nature-based climate solutions, including protecting animals and ecosystems, are effective ways to sequester carbon. Centering animals in international policy discussions will help us address climate harms and act on opportunities.
In addition to animals deserving protection in their own right, advancing their well-being is a necessary part of the solution to these global crises. To this end, the CAP provides a foundation for stakeholders and world leaders to come together and enshrine science-based policies into binding international law for the benefit of the animals, humans and our shared environment.