United Nations 'first' for animal welfare

Aug 4, 2006

 The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) will be represented at the 59th annual UN Department of Public Information (UN DPI) conference: “Unfinished Business: Effective Partnerships for Human Security and Sustainable Development” by a delegation of experts. At the UN's request, one representative under must be under the age of 30, a role that will be filled by WSPA's Leah Garces, Director of Campaigns.

On September 7, the WSPA contingent will join more than 2,500 non-governmental rganizations (NGO's) and other civil society partners from over 90 countries as well as senior government and UN officials in a bid to strengthen collaboration between those seeking to reduce poverty, hunger and disease.

Representatives from WSPA's extensive network of 690 Member Societies in more than 140 countries have also been encouraged to attend this meeting to ensure the widest possible collaboration and exchange of views on topics such as human rights, war, development and pandemics.

Larry Roeder, WSPA's Director for UN affairs, said: “This conference is of enormous importance to animal welfare because the UN is just beginning to understand the intrinsic link to humans. It is fantastic that UN and government officials who once focused exclusively on humans in disasters and economic development are reconsidering and recognizing the importance and interconnectedness of animals in such situations.”

He added: “Much work is still required, but this event will be an excellent opportunity for the animal welfare movement and will hopefully lead to many more UN initiatives.”

Roeder, who will moderate the animal welfare panel, recently retired as the Policy Adviser on Disaster Management at the US Department of State and has extensive experience with the UN in disasters and political crises, many of which dealt with animals.

The panel of animal welfare speakers is co-sponsored by WSPA Member Societies including the Brooke (an equine welfare organization) and the Blue Paw Trust of Sri Lanka. The panel also includes:

· Leah Garces, WSPA Director of Campaigns, who will address the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, which aims to achieve global recognition of animals as sentient beings and animal welfare as an issue of importance as part of social development worldwide.

· Dr. Badaoui Rouhban, Director of Risk Reduction at UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will discuss the International Working Group on Animal in Disasters, which includes experts from UN agencies, the Red Cross and the US government. The group was formed in a partnership between WSPA and UNESCO.

· Dr. Nalinika Obeysekere, Head of WSPA Member Society the Blue Paw Trust and a world leader in stray dog control, a critical issue in most disasters. Dr Obeysekere is based in Sri Lanka, works as a veterinary surgeon and runs two post-tsunami mobile clinics.

· Vivienne Rutgers has been a teacher in South Africa for 31 years and is leading a five-year pilot project in co-operation with the South African Department of Education, the University of the Western Cape and the University of Cape Town, on the impact of humane education.

· Sebastian E Heath MB, PhD is Senior Staff Veterinarian for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Homeland Security Office and will talk about livestock in disasters.

Click here to read more about WSPA's work with the UN.


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