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Seal Hunt Debate at WTO: Between Animal Welfare and Public Morality


AUTHOR: Sabine Brels, PhD Student at the Laval University (Quebec, Canada). Specialist in animal welfare, international and comparative law. Holder of the Vanier Scholarship.
TITLE: Seal Hunt Debate at WTO: Between Animal Welfare and Public Morality

PUBLICATION PLACE: dA web Center, June 2013.

Long evaded, the question of animal welfare makes its entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The recent seal hunt debate creates the break with the eviction tradition of this question through the protection of public morality. The issue of this debate is the following: Is the Community regulation on products derived from seals in conformity with WTO law? This question was discussed again on the 29-30 April 2013 at the WTO headquarters in Geneva . On one side, Canada and Norway as complainants. On the other, the European Union (EU) defending the legitimacy of its trade restriction. Adopted in 2009, the EU Seal products regulation came into force in 2010. It consists in prohibiting the importation and marketing of seal products. Theoretically ambitious for animal welfare protection, its exceptions are weakening the moral force of this ban, far from being general. This paper aims to present its main inconsistencies and innovations towards animal welfare consideration through public morality at WTO.

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