March 23, 2022

Lewis & Clark Animal Law LLM Candidates Help Lead the Charge for an International Convention to Protect Animals and Prevent Future Pandemics

Animal Law LLM Candidates Vanessa Gischkow Garbini and Marcia Condoy Truyenque take active roles in developing the next draft of the Convention on Animal Protection for Public Health, Animal Welfare, and the Environment.

Animal Law LLM Candidates Vanessa Gischkow Garbini (’22, Brazil) and Marcia Condoy Truyenque (’22, Peru) recently joined a select Working Group of international attorneys and animal law professors in Washington, D.C. to develop the next draft of an international convention to protect animals and prevent future pandemics. With a focus on global animal well-being, public health, and the environment, the Convention on Animal Protection (CAP) seeks to establish minimum standards of state conduct by prohibiting and regulating activities that harm animals and increase the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks, or diseases like COVID-19 that spill over from animals to humans.

The idea for CAP grew out of the work of an international team of law practitioners and academics committed to advocating for a global animal protection agreement, including founding member Professor Rajesh K. Reddy, CALS’ Global Animal Law and Animal Law Advanced Degree Program Director. CAP’s framework is grounded in the “One Health” approach, which is embraced by the World Health Organization, United Nations, World Trade Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Organization for Animal Health, and World Bank, among many other U.S. and international bodies. One Health seeks to protect global health by recognizing the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health as the optimal method to prevent zoonotic disease outbreaks. If adopted, the CAP will break new ground in its approach to global health by creating binding international obligations that affirm the inextricable link among and the urgent need to invest in the health and well-being of animals, humans, and the environment.

Having received scores of public comments on the first draft of the CAP by individuals, nonprofits, scholars, scientists, and others, the Working Group contemplated revisions that would go into the next draft of the treaty, which the Group seeks to make available by summer. In addition, the Working Group discussed strategic approaches to impress the need for a global animal protection treaty for diverse stakeholder groups.

Vanessa and Marcia, who both serve as Clerks at the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) working with Professor Reddy, took an active role in the discussions and helped to give shape to the next draft of the CAP. The D.C. meeting afforded them the unique opportunity to work side by side with other renowned animal law professors, including Professor David Favre (Michigan State) and Professor Joan Schaffner (George Washington), as well as prominent scholars and international attorneys, such as Daina Bray (Yale) and Nigel Blackaby and Rosario Galardi (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer), who hosted the event.

Marcia and Vanessa took full advantage of the unique opportunity to contribute and learn. Both enjoyed debating the pragmatic implications of word choice, familiarizing themselves with the political support necessary to transform a draft convention into a binding treaty that can adequately attend to animal welfare and be viable for adoption by states. “Since I arrived at CALS, I have had many opportunities that have made me grow as a professional. One of them is my participation in the drafting team of the CAP,” said Marcia. Vanessa echoed the sentiment: “It was an incredible opportunity to network and connect with attorneys and practitioners of animal law from different areas of the country and the world.”

With the input of Marcia and Vanessa, the Working Group’s meeting ended with a clearer if not more pragmatic approach for how the CAP can achieve its goals. While other pandemic treaty efforts have focused on preparedness and response, the CAP tackles the root cause of the problem: how our high-risk contact with and mistreatment of animals gives rise to the emergence of zoonoses in the first place. While the next draft of the CAP has yet to be finalized, it will still champion requirements to protect animal well-being, public health and the environment. In addition, the next draft will seek to address other animal welfare issues meriting attention around the world through protocols, or sub-agreements, within the convention.

Although advancing the CAP on the international stage will take time and effort, both are excited about the steps to come. “I want to thank CALS for this opportunity to be part of this unique event attended by incredible scholars and where important advances to promote international protections for animals were being made,” added Vanessa.

Following her efforts in the nation’s capital, Marcia traveled to Monmouth University to co-present a talk entitled “Preventing the Next Pandemic: The Draft Convention on Animal Protection with Professor Reddy on March 1. Organized by Dr. Randall Abate of Monmouth University and its Institute for Global Understanding (IGU), the event drew faculty, staff, scholars and students, as well as virtual attendees around the world. In her talk, Marcia addressed the critical role animal protection plays in mitigating the risk of zoonotic diseases and underscored how an international agreement like the CAP could help safeguard the habitat and well-being of animals if embraced by nation states.

From left to right: Rajesh Reddy, Marcia Condoy Truyenque, Randall Abate From left to right: Rajesh Reddy, Marcia Condoy Truyenque, Randall Abate Credit: Alessandra M. Conte, IGU Graduate Assistant, Monmouth University

After her presentation, Monmouth graduate student Anna Gwiazda interviewed Marcia for IGU Voices, a podcast dedicated to improving global affairs, cross-cultural understanding, and human rights. Joined by Professor Reddy, Marcia addressed the need for more robust animal protections globally, the burgeoning field of animal law, the CAP, her experience at Lewis & Clark Law School, and more.

Marcia reflected upon the overall experience afforded by CALS, saying: “All of the opportunities and experiences that I am given are reaffirming who I am and what I want to do as a lawyer: protect animals. Years ago, experiences like these were dreams for me, now they are real. Thanks, CALS, for making dreams come true.”

The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) was founded in 2008 with a mission to educate the next generation of animal law attorneys and advance animal protection through the law. With vision and bold risk-taking, CALS has since developed into a world-renowned animal law epicenter, with the most comprehensive animal law curriculum offered anywhere. In addition, CALS is the only program that offers an advanced legal degree in animal law, now offered both in-person and online, and three specialty animal law clinics. CALS is a nonprofit organization and is only able to provide these educational opportunities through donations and grants.