What is the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights? Is it being treated seriously? There are various forms of this declaration, it seems. Some are “home made”. But do we need it? I have set out two texts below.
A declaration of animal rights is useful, yes. But only at the beginning, before the legislation is written. That I submit is the natural order of things. There are now many countries with very well drafted animal welfare law (see for example the Animal Welfare Laws in Sweden).
It could be argued that the time for declarations has passed and effective laws are now needed. Those countries which have ineffective law or no law at all can simply adopt and adapt the Swedish legislation. If they want to introduce it gradually that’s fine; adopt the law accordingly. If the country likes the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights it can be recited or referred to in the preamble to their new Act. But the world has moved on and we need laws not simply declarations. Declarations proclaim intent while the enforcement of effective laws is the conversion of intent into action.
I love animals and had never heard of a declaration concerned with animal rights until today (late 2008). Yes, it has value but much more value can be gained from good and enforced animal welfare law. There needs to be a greater will to enact it in those countries where the correct mentality is sadly lacking. It is usual to find a lack of animal rights accompanying a lack of human rights. In the same way animal cruelty precedes and accompanies violence against people. This shows how animals are closely linked to humans.
All countries need animal welfare law. Why? Humans are a species of animal although lots of people can’t get their minds around that. We need to treat fellow animals properly from a moral standpoint and morals precede laws. In any event domestic animals improve our lives and wild animals are useful to us. Lets work in harmony with animals.
Update 24th August 2010: declawing cats for non-therapeutic purposes is clearly a breach of Article 3 of the declaration.
There appears to be various versions. Here is a version of the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights:
Considering that Life is one, all living beings having a common origin and having diversified in the course of the evolution of the species, – Considering that all living beings possess natural rights, and that any animal with a nervous system has specific rights,
Considering that the contempt for, and even the simple ignorance of, these natural rights, cause serious damage to Nature and lead men to commit crimes against animals,
Considering that the coexistence of species implies a recognition by the human species of the right of other animal species to live,
Considering that the respect of animals by humans is inseparable from the respect of men for each other,
It is hereby proclaimed that:
All animals have equal rights to exist within the context of biological equilibrium. This equality of rights does not overshadow the diversity of species and of individuals.
All animal life has the right to be respected.
- Animals must not be subjected to bad treatments or to cruel acts.
- If it is necessary to kill an animal, it must be instantaneous, painless and cause no apprehension.
- A dead animal must be treated with decency.
- Wild animals have the right to live and to reproduce in freedom in their own natural environment.
- The prolonged deprivation of the freedom of wild animals, hunting and fishing practiced as a pastime, as well as any use of wild animals for reasons that are not vital, are contrary to this fundamental right.
- Any animal which is dependent on man has the right to proper sustenance and care.
- It must under no circumstances be abandoned or killed unjustifiably.
- All forms of breeding and uses of the animal must respect the physiology and behavior specific to the species.
- Exhibitions, shows and films involving animals must also respect their dignity and must not include any violence whatsoever.
- Experiments on animals entailing physical or psychological suffering violate the rights of animals.
- Replacement methods must be developed and systematically implemented.
Any act unnecessary involving the death of an animal, and any decision leading to such an act, constitute a crime against life.
- Any act compromising the survival of a wild species and any decision leading to such an act are tantamount to genocide, that is to say, a crime against the species.
- The massacre of wild animals, and the pollution and destruction of biotopes are acts of genocide.
- The specific legal status of animals and their rights must be recognised by law.
- The protection and safety of animals must be represented at the level of Governmental organizations.
Educational and schooling authorities must ensure that citizens learn from childhood to observe, understand and respect animals.
“Inasmuch as there is ample evidence that many animal species are capable of feeling, we condemn totally the infliction of suffering upon our fellow creatures and the curtailment of their behavioural and other needs save where this is necessary for their own individual benefit.
“We do not accept that a difference in species alone (any more than a difference in race) can justify wanton exploitation or oppression in the name of science or sport, or for use as food, for commercial profit or for other human gain.
“We believe in the evolutionary and moral kinship of all animals and declare our belief that all sentient creatures have rights to life, liberty and natural enjoyment. “We therefore call for the protection of these rights.”
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