TTIP and animal welfare


Two weeks ago, negotiators for the European Union (EU) and the United States (USA) concluded the 11th round of negotiation on a new free trade agreement between the two entities. This potential treaty, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP – pronounce “tea tip”), is an ambitious project aiming at deepening the already very intense trade relations between the UE and the USA. As any free trade agreement, TTIP aims at facilitating trade by removing barriers that can impede exchanges between the parties. In the words of Daniel Mullaney, the United States Trade Representative for Europe: Continue reading


st_francispreachingtothebirds_giottoThe Catholic church has had a complicated history with the animals. Through time, various positions on the relation Christians should entertain with the animals were upheld. The monastic order of the Cathars for example refused to kill any animal. They believed they contained some sort of human spirits. But as an institution, the Church in general did not have any problem with Christians killing animals. The fact of eating meat (any sort of meat) was even seen for a long time as way of proving someone was a “real Christian” Continue reading


Animals War exhibitionAnimals in wartime are not only potential victims. Sometimes they are part of the military. For decades, not only dogs but dolphins and sea lions have been used by the military in the course of wars. In fact, the US NAVY actually has an entire marine mammal division and recognizes that it was already operational during the Vietnam War. People report that the USSR had the same sort of division in its time. The US NAVY says that the animals are only used for exploratory missions, to find objects (such as mines) and report back to the humans. Other say that animals are actually taking part in combat. In any case, these animals are part of the military and are deployed in combat zones. Which brings up a lot of questions of international humanitarian law. Continue reading


640px-Raja_Ravi_Varma,_Lord_GarudaThree weeks ago, the high court of Delhi at New Delhi (India) proclaimed the following:

“This court is of the view that running trade of birds is in violation of the rights of the birds. They deserve sympathy (…). Birds have fundamental rights to fly in the sky and all human beings have no right to keep them in small cages for the purpose of their business or otherwise”(Decision, para. 4.).

It should not be assumed that this decision is an isolated act performed by an eccentric judge. While in New York lawyers are currently fighting to impose the very idea that animals have rights, Indian courts and tribunals seem to be at peace with the notion.

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Zoopolis (2011) and why it matters for international lawyers

zoopolis-feb-2012Zoopolis (OUP, 2011) is a book written by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka. Its ambition  is to offer a political theory of animal rights. The project in itself is quite ambitious and rests on a simple idea: we have more than one identity. In current societies we can be at the same time, citizen, employee, parent, human… Each identity refers to a specific normative corpus. The notion of citizen refers to the political,  employee to labour rules, parent  to family law and the  human to human rights.

What the authors of Zoopolis underline is that the debate on animal rights has been excessively focused on the question of the fundamental rights, as if all the debate on humans were focused on what we call human rights. It is time, according to the authors, to offer a deeper study of the (potential) norms that could structure ideal relations between animals and the humans. What would an ideal society of human and animals look like? What norms would structure their relations? The goal of the authors is to build on political philosophy to propose a “theory of positive relational rights” between human and animals (p. 8).

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Welfare vs. trade: latest trends in European animal transportation

Sirens-of-the-Lambs-exhibit-by-BanksyWhen the European Union deals with animal transport it is always caught between two intentions: to protect animal welfare, on the one hand, to facilitate trade on the other. These two intentions are enshrined at the very beginning of the current council regulation dealing with animal transport (CR 1/2005).

The regulation reminds that “in formulating and implementing agriculture and transport policies, the Community and the Member States are to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals » but it immediately follows by underlining that “the Council has adopted rules in the field of the transport of animals in order to eliminate technical barriers to trade in live animals and to allow market organisations to operate smoothly » (CR 1/2005, Preamble, para. 1 & 2). It is quite easy to understand how these two goals can clash. And when they do, courts and tribunals are sometimes asked to arbitrate. In 2011, trade facilitation won. Last month, animal welfare did.

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Are animals about to obtain fundamental rights?

d03a2654-b2f3-4adf-ab54-56ebdb1c5923-2060x1236(Below is a translation into English of an opinion that I wrote in French. You can read the original text in Le Temps (Geneva), La Libre Belgique (Brussels) or Le Soir (Brussels) ).

On Monday, the Supreme court of the State of New York admitted the claim of an animal defence group who demanded the liberation of two chimpanzees for the mere reason that these animals would actually have the fundamental right to be free. Various media outlets broadcast this decision worldwide describing it as an important step in the regulation of human/animal relationships. Continue reading

New creativity in the Argentinian case

In a short post KStenner_Samboja_048 2008 (800x533)before spring break, I’d like to inform you of the latest developments in the Argentinian case I commented on last month. As you might remember, the Argentinian case concerned an orang-utan named Sandra held captive in an Argentinian zoo. An Argentinian organisation was fighting for her release and brought the case before various tribunals, all of which rejected it.

Last December, the Argentinian Cámara Federal de Casación Penal stated that the decisions rendered by these lower courts were inadequate because they stated that animals did not have Continue reading