CITES and Animal Welfare: The Legal Void for Individual Animal Protection
The protection of individual animal welfare is a matter of global concern meriting regulation under international law. Current international instruments intending to regulate animals offer piecemeal, incidental and ad-hoc protection for individual animal welfare. As such, international laws dealing with animals do not recognize or acknowledge animal sentience or the intrinsic value of individual animals and therefore are structurally incapable of providing meaningful protection for individual animals, especially abundant animals.
While examining several international instruments with animal welfare dimensions, this article draws particular attention to the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ('CITES'), which has been described as possessing several provisions replete with animal welfare elements. Despite this, CITES is insufficient as a mechanism to advance animal welfare generally since its application in this regard is limited to the scope of international trading activities. To fill the legal void left by CITES and other international environmental law instruments regarding animal welfare, this article supports the adoption of the proposed International Convention for the Protection of Animals (‘ICPA’). A principal reason for this is to enable animal welfare issues to acquire international recognition by establishing clear guidelines and policies regarding the treatment of individual animals. I suggest ICPA would create an acceptable standard of animal treatment that is immediately accessible to all states, organizations and individuals and would ideally result in harmonized animal cruelty standards around the world.