Paving the way for farm animal welfare in international relations: an EU–Brazil case study

C. Maciel, A.P.J. Mol, B.B. Bock

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3 Citations (Scopus)


As a sensitive area in international trade, animal welfare measures have encountered resistance in negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Consequently, alternative avenues have been pursued to reach international trade policy convergence. To further understand the contemporary trade politics of animal welfare, an empirical investigation was conducted on the interplay between European and Brazilian actors in the context of livestock production. By drawing upon diplomatic studies and the global governance literature, this study identifies and analyses initiatives that parallel the WTO approach and through which the development and implementation of mutually acceptable farm animal welfare measures have been pursued. Research findings indicate that a constellation of international non-diplomatic actors are currently engaged in influencing the future development of farm animal welfare measures. Among the initiatives that enable the alignment of European and Brazilian animal welfare policies and practices, there are soft instruments such as knowledge sharing and private standards. The rise of new actors and the use of soft instruments have been, to a certain extent, able to mitigate the tardiness of a WTO consensus regarding the use of animal welfare measures. However, there are concerns that the use of private standards has become a shortcut to circumvent the rigours of the multilateral trading system. This concern deserves a closer look because instead of paving the way, private standards may hamper trade relations which in turn hamper progress in animal welfare matters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-450
JournalContemporary Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • animal welfare
  • EU–Brazil
  • international governance
  • private standards
  • trade relations


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