International organizations


Several key international organizations promote biosecurity and the development of international trade. These organizations create standards and procedures that member countries agree to follow, and include:

The World Trade Organization (WTO) - develops rules for trade including the development of standards to prevent the spread of pests and diseases through trade. Members of the WTO are requested to abide by the SPS Agreement. The standards are developed by the mandated organisations: IPPC, OIE and CODEX Alimentarius 

  1. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) - is a multilateral treaty overseen by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The IPPC provides standards for plant health. The treaty covers both cultivated and wild plants. It also covers plants that are themselves pests i.e. invasive plants and weeds.
  2. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)  -  provides standards for animal health and managing diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans (zoonoses)
  3. CODEX Alimentarius - or "Food Code" was established by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1963 to develop harmonised international food standards, which protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade

Members of these organizations must abide by the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement.

The SPS agreement states that:

  • members have the right to enforce measures that are necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health provided that the restriction measures imposed to do so are in line with the SPS agreement
  • measures imposed must be justified by a scientific risk analysis based on sound scientific principles
  • members must not unjustly, arbitrarily or unjustifiably use any measured health restrictions as a means of preventing the import of goods in favour of domestic produce or to favour one country’s exports over another’s

content reviewed by Souad Boudjelas, Pacific Invasives Initiative, November 2016