These aims are described in national laws and/or codes of practice and were summarised in 2000 by the UK Home
"To ensure that all use of animals is … carefully considered and justified; that proper account is taken of all
possibilities for reduction, refinement and replacement (the 3Rs); and that high standards of accommodation and
care are achieved".
A similar statement was made by the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council (2013),
in its Code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes:
"There are difficult ethical judgements to be made regarding the use of animals for scientific purposes. The Code
requires (AECs) Animal Ethics Committees to determine whether the case for animal use is justified and to ensure
adherence to the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (3Rs)."
The general aims above can be broken down into a series of practical tasks, covering both project review and
oversight of the wider aspects of animal care and use, as shown in the box below.
Tasks for Ethical Review Bodies*
1. Providing a forum for discussion on all matters related to animal welfare, care and use [Chapter 6].
2. Promoting the development and uptake of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement of animal use)
in all projects/protocols throughout their duration; advising staff how to apply them [all chapters, and
especially Chapter 3].
3. Considering standards of animal care and accommodation to ensure high standards are developed and
maintained [Chapters 6 and 7].
4. Evaluating applications (and any subsequent amendments) to carry out projects/protocols involving
laboratory animals [Chapter 4].
5. Carrying out interim or retrospective reviews of projects/protocols in progress or completed [Chapter 5].
6. Supporting all staff dealing with animals, including those with statutory responsibilities, regarding animal
welfare and ethical issues [all chapters].
7. Establishing and regularly reviewing procedures and protocols, including management systems, for
monitoring, reporting and following up on acquisition, welfare and proper use of animals [all chapters].
8. Ensuring that relevant staff have appropriate education and training [Chapter 6].
9. Reviewing methods of humane killing; encouraging the sharing of tissues and organs; exploring options
for reducing animal wastage, rehoming or releasing animals [Chapters 3, 4 and 6].
10. Helping to promote a 'culture of care' within the institution and the wider community [all chapters].
Your ERB may not carry out all of these tasks, especially if it is a national or regional rather than an
institutional body, or it might have additional roles not listed here.
*See Appendix 1 for the list of tasks specifically for UK AWERBs.
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