OIE international standards
The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of the World Trade Organization (SPS Agreement) aims to facilitate safe international exchanges of animals and their derived products, avoiding the creation of unnecessary trade barriers. The Agreement encourages WTO Members to base their sanitary measures on international standards, guidelines and recommendations, where they exist. In the case of animal health and zoonoses, the SPS Agreement refers to “standards, guidelines and recommendations developed under the auspices of the OIE”.
The OIE publishes two Codes and two Manuals that constitute the main references for WTO Members in terms of animal health and zoonoses.
The Terrestrial Animal Health Code and the Aquatic Animal Health Code contain standards, guidelines and recommendations designed to prevent the introduction of diseases and infectious agents that are pathogenic to animals and people in the importing country due to trade in animals. and its derivative products. They also contain the norms for the efficient functioning of the Veterinary Services and Aquatic Health Services, as well as those related to Veterinary Public Health and Animal Welfare.
The Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals and the Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals describe the laboratory methods for the diagnosis of diseases and the requirements for the production and control of biological products, in order to standardize these fundamental elements in the prevention, surveillance and fight against animal diseases.
The preparation of new standards and the revision of existing ones in the OIE Codes and Manuals is the responsibility of the OIE Specialized Commissions. The members of these Commissions are elected by the World Assembly of Delegates of the OIE for their scientific experience and in regulatory matters, maintaining a regional balance. Each Commission meets two or three times a year on the basis of a work program. The Commissions may in some cases require the timely support of Ad-hoc Groups formed by experts in the particular subject.
The process of preparation or revision starts from the request submitted by a country or an organization linked to the OIE. A draft standard issued by a Commission is first submitted to the Member Countries for comments and subsequent initial discussion by the World Assembly. Then, the Specialized Commission studies the project taking into account the comments received and, in general, submits the revised draft for approval by the World Assembly at the next General Session. Once it is officially adopted, the standard can be applied by the Member Countries.