China towards a better protection of animal welfare

The people’s republic of ChiChina-Flag-HD-Wallpaper-800x600na is currently working on some amendment to its legislation in order to better prevent the ill treatment of wild animals. According to the Global Times (CN) of December 17 2014, “Chinese lawmakers will for the first time recognize animal welfare in wildlife protection law”.

In fact, it seems that China have had laws to protect the welfare of wild animals for quite some times. The law on the protection of Wildlife was adopted in 1988 even though its scope and enforcement could be criticized (see for example the critics of the World Animal Protection).

The text is for now just a draft. But let’s not forget that China already has some obligations under international law regarding the welfare of two specific types of wild animals. Whales and endangered species. Since 1959, the International Whaling Commission has been working to improve the “humaneness” of the whaling operations (see here for more details on the welfare of Whales). China joined the International Whaling Commission in 1980. As to the endangered species, let’s remind that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) includes some provisions on the welfare of endangered animals.

  • “The Parties shall ensure further that all living specimens, during any period of transit, holding or shipment, are properly cared for so as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment » (art. VIII, 3).
  • The text also provides for “rescue centers” defined as “institution designated by a Management Authority to look after the welfare of living specimens, particularly those that have been confiscated (art. VIII, 5)».

China ratified the Convention in 1981 (see full list of State parties).

That being said, international law does not provide for a comprehensive protection of animal welfare (see on that matter Harrop’s article in Global Policy). Precise and more ambitious provisions on a domestic level are therefore more than welcome.

 Vincent Chapaux – January 2015

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