NGO in Special
Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United
by Dianne Haworth, Animals' Voice magazine December 2001
'Veni, vidi, vici' Julius Caesar's famous words 'I came, I saw, I conquered' come to mind when writing of last month's successful journey to Rome by Elly Maynard of Tauranga, instigator of the world's largest petition to stop the breeding, export and slaughter of Western breed dogs for human consumption in China.
The event included the presentation of the petition to the Director-General of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome and a large demonstration outside the Chinese embassy shown on Italian TV news just three hours after the event. As a sequel, the British press and Germany's largest newspaper have taken up the cudgels on behalf of the magnificent St Bernard dogs and a new international organisation has been formed.
It was a remarkable few days as Elly Maynard, president of the Phoenix Animal Charitable Trust - the sponsoring organisation for the 4.5 million-strong petition signed by people in 45 countries - flew into Rome in early November to meet local organisers and prepared to present the petition.
Photographs courtesy of Animals' Voice
Rome was bathed in an unseasonal golden autumn glow - T-shirt weather just one month from mid-winter - and the thought occurred, were the gods smiling down on the enterprise? The gods perhaps, aided by the superb work of local Italian animal rights activists spearheaded by veterinarian student Ilaria Ferri and Gianluca Felicetti, a former policy advisor to the past Foreign Minister, who now heads Italy's League against Vivisection (LAV) Italy's largest animal rights group.
First up came the presentation of the petition to the Director-General at FAO, an imposing building with heavy security much in evidence, sited diagonally opposite the ancient Circus Maximus. The petition was delivered to the reception desk and after an anxious wait, the word came down from the Director General's office that Elly Maynard and Ilaria Ferri were to present it in person. There Elly says she was surprised and delighted to discover that not only were FAO staff aware of the petition - it had already circulated through their offices and many staff members had signed their support.
"To present the global petition directly to the FAO of the United Nations was the culmination of a dream come true. All the hard slog over the past two years was worth it that morning.
However, we are aware that much work still lies ahead. But thanks to Italy and people like Ilaria in particular, the news is out in the international arena and we are already seeing the positive results of that.
"Now the petition will be taken into the care of a Green European Parliamentarian to steer it through the next stage."
From FAO it was a quick trip (do Romans ever drive slowly?) across town where Elly addressed the conference of LAV, which had been timed to coincide with the protest outside the Chinese embassy the following day. There, for the first time in Italian history every major Italian animal rights organisation was together at one spot protesting on one subject, says Elly.
"History was indeed made with this as their animal rights organisations are indeed political and prefer to keep to themselves. The China dogs brought out the best in people!"
And not only Italian rights groups were there to tell the Chinese diplomats how they felt. Maggie Hansen of Norway, representing her country's group 'Against Animal Abuse in Asia' had flown into the city the evening before, adding a northern voice to the protest.
"Animal welfare is a global responsibility and as no government has taken up this cause the people have to do it. We know there is a black market where big dogs are sold in Europen and sent via Russia to Asia. People in Norway have been shocked that this is going on and we have to stop this trade."
The gates to the embassy were shut and flanked by a heavy but generally sympathetic police presence as the peaceful protest was staged, with both press and TV on hand to record the event. Dogs, small and large barked their support while men, women and children waved their flags and banners and a megaphone carried the message in Italian and English.
Later as the animal rights protesters dispersed, Ilaria Ferri - who also manages the anti-captive campaign for marine mammals (see website www.ancf.it) said she was happy that it had been so successful. "But this is only the first stage - a beginning."
A sentiment endorsed by Elly Maynard.
The following was sent to thr Italian President on 19th February 2002:
RE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANISATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS.
My name is Elly Maynard and I am Global Chairman of Sirius Global Animal Organisation.
On the 2nd November 2001, I presented a Petition, which was signed and supported by over 4 million people globally to the FAO United Nations in Rome. This Petition is asking that the FAO classify all western breed dogs as not for human consumption, as per the FAOSTAT list.
In April 2000, I started the Petition after learning that China is importing Western/European breed dogs, namely Saint Bernard's at that stage and now many other breeds, for farming and slaughter for human consumption.
As historians and scientists agree, after extensive research, dogs have a unique place alongside man and have had this relationship for well over 14,000 years. These people also agree that dogs are neither human nor beast. Therefore they deserve a unique classification of their own, given their symbiotic relationship with humans. I have been personally advised by the FAO United Nations that this matter may be discussed at either a Council or Conference meeting of the FAO United Nations, however a member country must agenda it. I therefore respectfully ask that Italy, given its great reputation worldwide as a champion of animals and given the recent development in Italy banning all fur products from Asia, agenda this matter for discussion at either the FAO Council or Conference this year, 2002.
Italy is a party to the following International Agreements: Air Pollution, Antarctic-Environment Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desterification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Whaling to name a few. Would Italy therefore become the champion for the dogs?
These animals do not belong in the food chain and given their unique intelligence (they are called "canine heroes" by the world media after the September 11 2001 disaster in New York) we do ask that the dogs are classified as not for human consumption on the FAOSTAT list.
Evidence also exists that Saint Bernards have been exported from Italy into China - there is only one purpose for this and that is the food chain.
I am enclosing reference material for your information.
Thank you Mr. President and I look forward to hearing from you.
MRS ELLY MAYNARD
SIRIUS GLOBAL ANIMAL ORGANISATION
The petition delivered to the UN in Rome in 2001 has so far been ignored by that organisation, even though the petition was signed by 4,500,000 people from more than 45 countries!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Send emails to your government and your country's representatives at the UN asking that the issue of the petition be discussed formally at the next meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Council or Conference. Sirius has been advised by the FAO that this can be done. Any country belonging to the FAO can agenda this matter. The email addresses of the international representatives to the UN can be found at http://www.un.int/index-en/webs.html. A sample letter is below, but please feel free to write an original.
Over a 20 month period (April 2000 - November 2001) Mrs Elaine Maynard of Tauranga, New Zealand organised the collection of 4.5 million signatures from over 40 countries to petition the United Nations to ban the export, breeding and slaughter of Western breed dogs to countries farming them for human consumption.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation was chosen as the Body to which the petition should be presented and on 2nd November 2001, Mrs Maynard presented it to the Office of the Director General in Rome where it is presumably now filed.
It was expected that the petition would be automatically forwarded to the Member Nations with the object that one or more would agenda this matter at a future meeting for discussion. Despite a number of communications with the FAO, this has not been done, the primary reason given that this issue is not within the FAO's mandate.
I therefore respectfully ask that you request a copy of the Petition presented to the Director General's Office of the FAO and take whatever action you deem appropriate. This Petition represents the voices of 4.5 million people and should not be ignored.