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

Francisco de Vitoria: Building human rights on animal exploitation

I must admit that I tFrancisco_vitoriahought I was going to write a more joyful note today than the one I am about to draft. My interest this week was on Francisco de Vitoria (1483-1546). Francisco de Vitoria is one of the founding father of international law. He is usually presented as a rather progressive thinker. He is in particular known for his defense of the rights of the native Americans – at a time when this position was far from mainstream. His De Indis (literally “on the Indians”) is often seen as an important intellectual contribution to the development of the idea of a universal legal regime to protect basic human rights.

I hadn’t actually read his writings but I thought that, being a naturalist, his plea for the “Indians” would be based on some sort of natural right to freedom to which every living creature would be Continue reading

International standards of veterinary practice: between animal protection and exploitation

Veterinarians in our com-rav-chev-examsociety are forced to entertain a deeply ambivalent relationship with the animals.

In human medicine, the relationship between the doctor and the patient is clear: the first goal of the doctor is the health of his or her patient. This is actually provided for by the Declaration of Geneva adopted by the General Assembly of the World Medical Association in 1948. The text provides for an oath to be pronounced by every person who starts to practice human medicine. And the text is pretty straightforward: “The health of my patient will be my first consideration”. Now in practice, Continue reading

Who would have thought? Thanks to the WTO, seals are now more protected than before.

To understand h18january2014ow this happened, one needs to go back to the origins of the “seal products case”. The “seal products case” concerned a 2009 EU Seal Regulation by which the Union prohibited the placing of seal products on the European market. The reason was simple: seal hunt techniques were considered by the Union to be unnecessarily cruel. That very same year, the decision was challenged by Canada, soon to be followed by Norway. After unsuccessful consultations, a Panel was Continue reading

Hugo Grotius and the animals

Reading the title Michiel_Jansz_van_Mierevelt_-_Hugo_Grotiusof this post, some of our readers less familiar with international legal thinking, might hope it is dedicated to the latest punk-rock sensation. And while I do agree that “Hugo Grotius and the animals” would actually be a pretty good name for a band, I might have to disappoint them and confess that my intention is only to understand the relationship one of the main legal thinkers of international law entertained with animality.

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) is considered to be one of the founding fathers of international law. Published in 1625, De jure belli ac pacis (On the Law of War and Peace) is his magnum opus and is usually said to be a cornerstone of international legal thinking. To the best of my knowledge, though, the question of the relationship this founding father had to the animal reign has never been raised directly in international legal scholarship. Continue reading