Standard-Setting Process

The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) regularly updates its international standards in accordance with new scientific information and technological advances, following its established transparent and democratic adoption procedures. The only pathway for adoption of a standard is via approval by the World Assembly of Delegates at the WOAH General Assembly in May each year. After adoption, these standards are published and updated in the respective volumes of the Codes and Manuals.

The standard-setting process is used to update our international standards. It is an inclusive process that includes the participation of our Members and partner international organisations. This process also involves the Specialist Commissions, ad hoc Groups and Working Groups.

Access a stepwise description of the process for the elaboration of WOAH International Standards.

Please, watch the video below to understand better how International Standards are developed.

Specialists Commissions

The relevant Specialist Commission consider requests to develop new standards or review existing standards received from a range of stakeholders including from Members, partner international organisations, and its scientific network. These requests are reviewed, prioritised and included on its respective work plans.

Calendar of the upcoming Specialist Commission meetings

Commissions*February 2023September 2023February 2024
Code Commission7-175-146-16
Biological Standards Commission6-104-85-9
Scientific Commission13-1711-1512-16
Aquatic Animals Commission15-2213-2014-21
*Projected dates of the next meetings of the four Specialist Commissions

Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission


Biological Standards Commission


Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases


Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission


Standard Operating Procedure for WOAH Members and International Organisations to submit comments during the Process for the elaboration of WOAH international standards

WOAH has developed this Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to improve the transparency, documentation, and traceability of the process for receiving and responding to comments submitted during the process for the elaboration of WOAH International Standards, as well as to describe the roles and responsibilities of WOAH Members and International Organisations, Specialist Commissions, subject-matter experts, and WOAH Headquarters, during this process.

In addition to the SOP, a specific guide is available to provide guidance for Members and International Organisations with an cooperation agreement with WOAH on how to submit and present comments for consideration by WOAH Specialist Commissions.

Ad hoc Groups and Working Groups

The ad hoc Groups and Working Groups may be requested to address specific topics to ensure that new or revised standards are based on the latest scientific evidence and knowledge. The views of the Members and partner international organisations are routinely sought through the circulation of draft and revised texts in the relevant Specialist Commission report.

Ad hoc Groups


Working Groups


The only pathway for adoption of a new or revised standard is by approval of the World Assembly of Delegates at the annual General Session in May. The newly adopted standards, then, enter into force.

These standards are published in a revised edition of the Aquatic Code or Terrestrial Code; as well as the two Diagnostic Manuals.