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There is cause for celebration in Central America, with the government of Costa Rica giving official backing to a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW). This longstanding WSPA initiative works to encourage every United Nations member state to recognise that animals can feel and suffer, and should be protected from mistreatment.
It’s a long-term goal but one with momentum. With Costa Rica’s official backing, there are now 44 nations across the world supporting a UDAW, from Serbia to the Seychelles, Belgium to Bolivia. In addition, over 2 million individuals have joined the public campaign: Animals Matter.
Alfio Piva, Vice-President of the Republic of Costa Rica, ratified government support for a UDAW in capital city San José. He was joined by Provincial Mayor Johnny Araya Monge, who also signed his name to endorse the Declaration.
At a public meeting held in a local community library, Mr Piva stated: “This is not just a document. It’s a matter of respect, of love and of solidarity with animals, who do have the capacity of feeling agony and suffering. So it should not seem strange when we uphold the premise that human beings have an ethical responsibility to animals.”
This official endorsement is the culmination of Costa Rica’s positive engagement with the campaign for a UDAW: in 2008 then-president Óscar Arias backed Animals Matter and became the one millionth personal signatory in support of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare to be adopted by the United Nations.
The same public event also closed the UDAW cartoon initiative, which gathered a wide sample of international graphic humour to promote a Declaration.
With more than 340 cartoons by 179 artists from 48 countries, this event proved the inspirational power of WSPA’s vision: a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty has ended.