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

Protecting non-human culture – International Law goes a step further

There has beeCMS Logon a unidirectional movement in the last fifteen years toward acceptance of the crucial role of culture in the lives of many non-human animals

This is the conclusion of a statement made by Luke Rendell and Hal Withehead, who have been working on cetacean culture since the end of the 90’s. Their conclusion is clear: a lot of what was thought to be instinct-based behaviour is now proved to be culturally built knowledge. As to cetaceans:

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First thoughts on the recognition of “mother earth” as a subject of rights in the Bolivian legislation

Mother Earth Law“In ancient times, mountains were erected, rivers were moved, lakes were formed. Greenery and flowers covered our Amazon, our chaco, our altiplano and our plains and valleys. We populated this sacred Mother Earth with different faces, and we understood since then the current plurality of everything and our diversity as beings and cultures”.

This how the Bolivian constitutions starts (read entire constitution). Continue reading

Primates and habeas corpus: lessons from the Argentinian case

After making quitargentinae an impression in the world of animal rights, the importance of the decision rendered on December 18, 2014 by the Argentinian Cámara Federal de Casación Penal is now questioned.

But what happened exactly?

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Primates and habeas corpus: lessons from the New York cases

706740029147231632In a decision dated January 2, 2015, the Supreme Court of the State of New York dismissed the petition of the nonhuman rights project, an organization seeking a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Kiko, a chimpanzee that was – according to the organization – illegally held captive [read entire decision].

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Animal welfare as a general principle of international law? What the Animal Protection Index can teach us…

logo_large_1Lots of people are today looking for a way to foster international cooperation to better protect animals  and some dream of a universal text that would be used as an umbrella or a ground norm for all animal protection and welfare. While those texts would surely help the cause of those defending the well-being of animals, it is also important not to focus entirely on the tools to be – the risk being forgetting about the tools that already are. Continue reading

China towards a better protection of animal welfare

The people’s republic of ChiChina-Flag-HD-Wallpaper-800x600na is currently working on some amendment to its legislation in order to better prevent the ill treatment of wild animals. According to the Global Times (CN) of December 17 2014, “Chinese lawmakers will for the first time recognize animal welfare in wildlife protection law”.

In fact, it seems that China have had laws to protect the welfare of wild animals for quite some times. The law on the protection of Wildlife was adopted in 1988 even though its scope and enforcement could be criticized (see for example the critics of the World Animal Protection). Continue reading