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Rights of Human and Nonhuman Animals: Complementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • Anne Peters (a1)
Extract

In May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke about illegal border crossings: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in … . You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals.” Such dehumanization (in this case of undocumented migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border) has been a standard discursive strategy to prepare, instigate, facilitate, and exculpate violence committed by humans against other humans throughout history. It is exactly in reaction to excesses of such dehumanizing mass violence committed in the Third Reich and during World War II that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in 1948. This essay argues that the objectives of the UDHR itself would be furthered if the United Nations (or another international body such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, or the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)) engaged in work on a universal animal rights declaration. While animal welfare is increasingly protected in domestic jurisdictions, animal rights are still hardly recognized, although they would serve animals better. Animal rights would need to be universalized in order to have an effect in a globalized setting. The international legal order is flexible and receptive to nonhuman personhood. The historical experience with international human rights encourages the international animal rights project, because it shows how the equally pertinent objection of cultural imperialism can be overcome. Animal rights would complement human rights not least because the entrenchment of the species-hierarchy, as manifest in the denial of animal rights in many cases, condones disrespect for the rights of humans themselves.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Footnotes
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*

I thank Alexandra Huneeus, Guillaume Futhazar, Tom Sparks, and Saskia Stucki for valuable comments on a previous version of this essay.

Footnotes
References
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1 The White House, Remarks by President Trump at a California Sanctuary State Roundtable (May 16, 2018) (emphasis added).

2 Humanness And Dehumanization (Paul Bain et al. eds., 2014).

3 See two databases: Sabine Brels & Antoine F. Goetschel, Animal Legislations in the World at National Level, Global Animal Law (Mar. 1, 2017); Animal Protection Index, World Animal Protection (2014).

4 A.F.A.D.A Respecto del Chimpance “Cecilia” – Sujeto no Humano, Tercer Juzgado de Garantías Mendoza Case No. P-72.254/15 (Nov. 3, 2016) (Arg.).

5 Luis Domingo Gómez Maldonado, quien actúa en favor del oso de anteojos de nombre “chucho”, Colombian Supreme Court of Justice Case No. AHC4806-2017, Radicación No. 17001-22-13-000-2017-00468-02 (July 26, 2017) (Colom.). This judgment was reversed and the case is now pending at the Supreme Court.

6 Animal Welfare Board of India v. Nagaraja and Others, Supreme Court of India Civil Appeal No. 5387 (May 7, 2014).

7 Naruto v. Slater, No. 16-15469, D.C. No. 3:15-cv-04324-WHO (9th Cir.) (April 23, 2018).

8 See Saskia Stucki, Grundrechte für Tiere, 2016.

9 For example, Swiss law prohibits the production of foie gras and frog legs as animal cruelty but allows the import of such products.

10 Heinrich Triepel, Völkerrecht Und Landesrecht 20–21 (1899).

11 See, e.g., International Agreement for the Suppression of the “White Slave Traffic” pmbl. and art. 1, opened for signature May 18, 1904, 35 Stat. 1979 (entered into force July 18, 1905).

12 Peter Malanczku, Akehurst's Modern Introduction To International Law 91 (7th ed., 1997).

13 This is how the fictional character Thomas O'Hearn, “professor of philosophy of Appleton,” puts it in J.M. Coetzee, The Lives Of Animals 60 (1999).

14 Will Kymlicka & Sue Donaldson, Animal Rights, Multiculturalism, and the Left, 45 J. Soc. Phil. 116, 127 (2014).

16 Id.

17 These “freedoms” draw on U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's “four freedoms” proclaimed in the State of the Union address on January 6, 1941.

18 Report Of The Technical Committee To Enquire Into The Welfare Of Animals Kept Under Intensive Livestock Husbandry Systems 13 (F. W. Rogers Brambell [Chairman], 1965).

20 Déclaration des droits de l'animal, adopted by the Fondation Droit Animal, Éthique et Sciences (2018).

21 Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals 192–193 (2015) (discussing the “doctrine of virtue”).

22 Sonia Lucia & Martin Killias, Is Animal Cruelty a Marker of Interpersonal Violence and Delinquency? Results of a Swiss National Self-Report Study, 1 Psych. Violence 93 (2011). The findings are based on self-reporting of more than 3,600 Swiss pupils in 2006.

23 Kimberly Costello & Gordon Hodson, Explaining Dehumanization Among Children: The Interspecies Model of Prejudice, 53 Brit. J. Soc. Psycol. 175, 197 (2014).

24 Universal Declaration of Human Rights pmbl., G.A. Res. 217 (III) A (Dec. 10, 1948).

* I thank Alexandra Huneeus, Guillaume Futhazar, Tom Sparks, and Saskia Stucki for valuable comments on a previous version of this essay.

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