The 88th Annual General Session of the World Assembly of National Delegates to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) will be held virtually from Monday, 24 to Friday, 28 May 2021. The General Session will be conducted through a series of five virtual sessions of four hours each, from 10:00 to 14:00 CEST (Central European Summer Time, Paris time).
This decision was taken by the OIE Council in conjunction with the Director-General in light of the ongoing global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the OIE Basic Texts do not make provision for holding the General Session virtually under unprecedented and exceptional circumstances, they do not rule it out.
Even in a virtual format, the General Session will still allow the Assembly to adopt administrative and technical resolutions and to elect the Director-General, the members of the Specialist Commissions, and the members of the other governing bodies of the OIE (members of the Council and of the Bureaux of the Regional Commissions). The 7th Strategic Plan, which will guide the OIE work plan for the coming years, will also be proposed for adoption.
In anticipation of the General Session’s new format, a series of virtual preparatory information seminars is scheduled to take place on 12, 14, and 16 April 2021 to provide an opportunity for the OIE Specialist Commissions to share information with OIE Members on the standards that will be presented for adoption at the 88th General Session.
Each seminar will target a specific set of Standards: i) Terrestrial Animal Health Code, ii) Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals, and iii) Aquatic Code and Manual, and each one will be organised three times in three different time zones for three distinct groups of Members. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in one or more of the official languages of the OIE, with the choice of language dependent on the language(s) most widely understood in the regions targeted by each virtual seminar. The virtual seminars will be addressed to OIE Delegates, their National Focal Points, and International and Regional Organisations that have an agreement with the OIE. While these seminars are not being considered part of the General Session itself, it is highly recommended that Delegates attend these preparatory sessions in person in order to have the opportunity to raise their comments or questions in advance. This will ensure that the usual principles of information-sharing and Member participation will be fulfilled, despite the limitations imposed by the new format of this General Session.
An annual General Session is a requirement of the OIE Basic Texts, and the OIE is working hard to adapt the event to the virtual context. Members are being asked to remain attentive to all communications related to the organisation of this important event.