Last week, a comment from blog reader Sara caught my eye. It builds on my blog from yesterday about some exciting developments in Europe. Today, I offer a broader round-up of some of our international advocacy.
Q. Can I request that you detail some more international victories?
A. In 2007, The Humane Society of the United States and our global affiliate, Humane Society International, have been steadily building alliances with a host of international animal protection organizations. By empowering local non-governmental organizations in different regions of the world, we can help them to more effectively bring about positive change for animals. For example, working with local partners in the Philippines this year, we were able to pass and enact legislation to protect dogs and to mete out penalties for anyone who catches and kills dogs for the nation’s illegal commercial dog meat trade.
Another important aspect of our work is putting pressure on global corporations, their subsidiaries, and local retailers to act responsibly toward animals. Among our successes in that arena for 2007:
- Japan’s fourth-largest fisheries company, Kyokuyo, stopped selling whale and dolphin meat in its Japanese stores, and dropped its shares in the Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha, Ltd.
- Last month we launched a campaign against Japanese seafood conglomerates and their subsidiaries, urging them to apply pressure to the Japanese government to stop the planned slaughter of endangered humpbacks and other whales. Japan announced on Dec. 21 that it would not kill humpbacks, but our campaign continues because Japan continues to kill other endangered whales each year.
- Our boycott of Canadian seafood now has the support of more than 3,000 restaurants and food businesses and half a million individuals, costing Canadian fisheries close to $500 million since the boycott began. We are also pushing ahead with partners in Europe to close markets there to Canadian seal products.
Through our international policy work, we have also made some truly significant strides for animals this past year:
- On June 19, the European Parliament voted unanimously to ban cat and dog fur from being imported or exported into Europe by Dec. 31, 2008, marking the end of an eight-year campaign to stop the trade.
- At the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) we secured a ban prohibiting the international commercial trade in elephant ivory for nine years; got countries to reject China’s bid for international approval of its tiger breeding farms; successfully fought off U.S. efforts to ease CITES restrictions on the export of bobcat skins for the fur trade; and blocked efforts by Japan to strip great whales of CITES’ highest level of protection.
- At the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission we reversed a 2006 resolution that called for the resumption of commercial whaling, affirming an international commitment to maintain the moratorium and to continue to protect whales (over the objections of Japan, Norway, and Iceland).
- At the United Nations we were able to get language adopted that encourages all member nations to take immediate action to protect shark populations from the cruel and unnecessary practice of finning.
And sometimes we don’t have to go any farther than the U.S. government to help end abusive animal practices in other parts of the world.
- In April, after seven years of legal appeals, we were able to maintain the integrity of the U.S. dolphin-safe label. The U.S. Commerce Department, in conjunction with Mexico, had tried to weaken the label’s definition to allow dolphins to be intentionally chased and harassed with tuna nets—a method that kills approximately 4,000 dolphins annually. By preserving the strong U.S. definition of dolphin-safe, the market incentive to set nets on dolphins in other countries has now been greatly diminished.
- To the dismay of wealthy trophy hunters around the globe, we were able to secure report language approved by the House that encourages the U.S. Agency for International Development not to fund programs that support or promote recreational, sport or trophy hunting as a conservation tool. We have to keep on this, but this action brings us closer to stopping the U.S.-subsidized trophy hunting programs in Africa.
To stay current with our work to protect animals globally, please sign up to receive Humane Society International’s email updates and alerts and join our growing list of international email advocates. To share just one example from this year, our online advocates bombarded the mayor of Ethiopia’s capital city with letters after he announced a dog poisoning campaign to eradicate rabies. The mayor listened, and the local government is now in communication with us regarding the development of a humane approach to the street dog overpopulation problem.
We know all too well that animal cruelty and suffering do not end at our nation’s border. Neither does our ability to effect change for animals.