Conceptual Framework Animal Welfare

The Council on Animal Affairs advises on multidisciplinary issues concerning animal welfare and animal health, either on request or of its own accord, taking into account both their societal aspects and pertinent scientific understanding.

Multifaceted notions

Multifaceted notions such as animal welfare, intrinsic value and natural behaviour often come up in the Council’s advisory reports. One aspect is their scientific meaning, which evolves with the accumulation of scientific insight through research. Another is their legal interpretation as expressed by law.

Notions like animal welfare and intrinsic value are mental constructs which serve to structure and clarify the social and political discourse on how to treat animals and what policies are desirable, and set its boundaries. Many such notions are susceptible to broad as well as narrow interpretations. Also, they are used in social contexts where personal convictions and individual frames of reference come into play. This often leads to confusion.


The Council attaches great importance to transparency and consistency in decision procedures in general. So of course it wishes to avoid confusion and lack of clarity in its own advisory practice by adhering to maximally transparent, unequivocal and consistent descriptions and definitions. By presenting the present conceptual framework the Council aims to clarify exactly how it interprets a number of common key notions and uses them in its advisory reports, in order to facilitate discussions within the Council as well as between the Council and its members and external parties.