World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

The OIE is the science based standard setting organization at the international level for animal and veterinary public health. It also serves as the scientific reference body for international trade of animals and animal derived products under the Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organization.

The OIE's objectives are:

  • To ensure transparency in the global animal disease and zoonosis situation
  • To collect, analyse and disseminate scientific veterinary information
  • To provide expertise and encourage international solidarity in the control of animal diseases
  • Within its mandate under the WTO SPS Agreement, to safeguard world trade by publishing health standards for international trade in animals and animal products
  • To improve the legal framework and resources of National Veterinary Services
  • To provide a better guarantee of the safety of food of animal origin and to promote animal welfare through a science-based approach

The duties of the OIE Delegate for Canada include, but are not limited to:

  • Representing Canada at the World Assembly of Delegates and voting on international standards, recommendations, and resolutions
  • Notifying the OIE of animal diseases present in Canada
  • Bringing the resolutions of the World Assembly to the attention of the Canadian government, and ensuring that, as far as possible, the resolution of the World Assembly are applied in Canada
  • Providing scientific input into the development of international standards, and
  • Designating national focal points for support in the fields of animal health information, wildlife diseases, veterinary medicinal products, animal production food safety, animal welfare, communications and laboratories

International Standards

International Sanitary Standards are drafted by the OIE Specialist Commissions. Standards are created to protect countries from the introduction of diseases and pathogens, while ensuring they are fair and scientifically justified. These sanitary standards are continually revised and updated.

At the Specialist Commission level comments that are supported by sound scientific information will be taken into account and draft standards may be revised accordingly.  All revised draft standards are submitted to the OIE for ratification by the International Committee at the General Session. Ratified standards are then incorporated into the relevant OIE publications. 

The OIE oversees four specialist commissions that develop and revise the OIE's international sanitary standards, by addressing scientific and technical issues raised by Member Countries. 

  • Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission ("Code Commission") - establishes standards governing the trade of terrestrial animals and animal products. 
  • Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases ("Scientific Commission")- assists in identifying the most appropriate strategies and measures for disease prevention and control.  The Commission also reviews submissions regarding animal health status for Member Countries that wish to be included on the OIE's list of countries 'free' of certain diseases.
  • Biological Standards Commission ("Laboratories Commission")- establishes methods for diagnosing diseases of mammals, birds and bees. Furthermore, the Commission tests biological products, such as vaccines. It oversees the production of the Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals.
  • Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission ("Aquatic Commission")- compiles information on diseases of fish, molluscs and crustaceans, and on methods used to control these diseases.

In addition to the four Specialist Commissions, there are three working groups focusing on Wildlife Diseases, Animal Welfare and Food Safety. The purpose of the working groups is to collect, analyse and disseminate information relevant to their respective fields.

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