The international trade in animals and animal products has become a sensitive issue for both developed and developing countries by posing an important risk for the international spread of animal and human pathogens whilst at the same time being an essential activity to ensure world-wide food security and food safety. The OIE has since its founding in 1924, applied a democratic and transparent decision-making process to continuously develop and review international standards for animal health and zoonoses to facilitate trade in animals and animal products. The role of the OIE is also mandated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as international reference point for standards related to animal health. In support of its overall objective of promoting animal health world-wide, the OIE has also launched several other initiatives such as the improvement of the governance of veterinary services within its member countries and territories and to enhance the availability of diagnostic and scientific expertise on a more even global geographical distribution. Several trade facilitating concepts such as country, zonal and compartment freedom from disease as well the trade in disease free commodities has been introduced to enhance the trade in animals and animal products for all its members including those from developing and transitional countries who are still in the process of enhancing to full compliance with international sanitary standards.