The Convention on Animal Protection: The Missing Link in a One Health Global Strategy for Pandemic Prevention
As the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates, society’s failure to address animal well-being has had grave consequences not just for animals but also for humans. The emergence of zoonotic diseases is largely a result of high-risk contact with and mistreatment of animals, and it obligates states to assess the risks and mitigate, if not prevent, the underlying harms to animals that ensue. In keeping with the One Health approach, the proposed Convention on Animal Protection for Public Health, Animal Welfare, and the Environment (CAP) lays the groundwork for a comprehensive global strategy to address the missing link in other approaches to the pandemic—specifically by recognizing explicitly that the protection of animal well-being is good for animals, for people, and for the planet.
This Article sets CAP in its historical context, capturing how previous international agreements have been reached to preserve the exploitation of animals as living resources but have not ventured much further than that. The Article looks at how high-risk contact with and mistreatment of animals led to the emergence of COVID-19 and highlights how existing legal frameworks are ill-equipped to prevent similar pandemics. The Article then turns to a discussion of CAP—its origins with the adoption of an American Bar Association (ABA) policy urging the negotiation of a treaty to prevent pandemics by advancing animal protection and welfare, as well as its structure and provisions as framed by its first draft—and distinguishes CAP from other treaty proposals. In conclusion, the Article underscores the opportunity CAP presents not just to help prevent future pandemics but also to advance animals’ intrinsic interests, which are inextricably interwoven with our own.