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Global Animal Law: What It Is and Why We Need It

  • Anne Peters (a1)


The symposium collection in this issue of TEL, consisting of four articles including this framing article, seeks to conceptualize and flesh out a new branch of law and legal research: global animal law. The starting hypothesis is that contemporary animal law must be global or transnational (that is, both transboundary and multilevel) in order to be effective. In times of globalization, all aspects of (commodified) human−animal interactions (from food production and distribution, working animals and uses in research, to breeding and keeping of pets) possess a transboundary dimension. Animal welfare has become a global concern, which requires global regulation. This foreword introduces the three symposium articles, sketches out the research programme of global animal law and links its emergence to the ongoing ‘animal turn’ in the social sciences, including political philosophy.

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1 Peters, A., ‘Liberté, Égalité, Animalité: Human–Animal Comparisons in Law’ (2016) 5(1) Transnational Environmental Law, pp. 2553.

3 Kelch, T., ‘Towards Universal Principles for Global Animal Advocacy’ (2016) 5(1) Transnational Environmental Law, pp. 81111.

2 Sykes, K., ‘Globalization and the Animal Turn: How International Trade Law Contributes to Global Norms of Animal Protection’ (2016) 5(1) Transnational Environmental Law, pp. 5579.

4 Peters, n. 1 above.

5 Fraser, D., Understanding Animal Welfare: The Science in its Cultural Context (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).

6 ‘Report of the Technical Committee to Enquire into the Welfare of Animals Kept under Intensive Livestock Husbandry Systems’ (Brambell Report); Chairman, Prof. F.W. Rogers Brambell, FRS (HMSO, 1965), s. 13.

7 For the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards see n. 37 below.

8 See, e.g., Art. 3 Swiss Animal Protection Statute (Tierschutzgesetz) 16 Dec. 2005, as of 1 May 2014, SR 455.

9 See, critically, Fraser, n. 5 above, esp. pp. 239–40, who highlights that the different criteria invoked do not always agree with each other, or are even incommensurate. ‘Welfare’ is not a purely ‘scientific’ concept but is underlain with values (ibid., p. 252).

10 The welfarist position has been developed most extensively by Robert Garner: see Garner, R., Animals, Politics, and Morality, 2nd edn (Manchester University Press, 2004); Garner, R., ‘Animal Welfare: A Political Defense’ (2006) 1(1) Journal of Animal Law and Ethics, pp. 161174.

11 Francione, G.L. & Garner, R., The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? (Columbia University Press, 2010), p. 120.

12 Ibid., p. 168.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid., p. 129.

15 Kuemlangan, B., ‘Preface’, in J. Vapnek & M. Chapman (eds), Legislative and Regulatory Options for Animal Welfare, for the Development Law Service FAO Legal Office: FAO Legislative Study 104 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2010), p. v: ‘Animal welfare concerns also garner more attention as consumers recognize the links between animal health and animal welfare, and animal welfare and human well-being’.

16 On the argument that moral principles are based on feelings of compassion, sympathy, and empathy, see Kelch, n. 2 above.

17 See the partly concurring and partly dissenting opinion of Judge Pinto de Albuquerque in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Herrmann v. Germany (Grand Chamber), appl. no. 9300/07, 26 June 2012, p. 36: ‘One of the hallmarks of international and European law in contemporary times [is] the protection of animal life and welfare’.

18 European Communities – Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products, Panel Report, WTO Docs WT/DS400/R and WT/DS401/R, 25 Nov. 2013 (EC – Seal Products), para. 7.420 leaves this open. In the affirmative see Bowman, M., Davies, P. & Redgwell, C., Lyster’s International Wildlife Law, 2nd edn (Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 678: ‘There are therefore ample grounds for recognising concern for animal welfare both as a principle widely reflected in national legal systems and as a universal value, in the broader sense’.

19 San Francisco, CA (US), 26 June 1945, in force 24 Oct. 1945, available at:

20 Sykes, K., ‘“Nations Like Unto Yourselves”: An Inquiry into the Status of a General Principle of International Law concerning International Welfare’ (2011) 49 Canadian Yearbook of International Law, pp. 349 (arguing that that there is an (emerging) legal principle of animal welfare protection). See also Bowman, Davies & Redgwell, n. 18 above, p. 680.

21 E.g., White, S., ‘Into the Void: International Law and the Protection of Animal Welfare’ (2013) 4(4) Global Policy, pp. 391398, at 392 (diagnosing ‘the growing national and international significance of animal welfare as an area of policy and legal concern’). In this symposium collection, Katie Sykes identifies the issue of ‘animal protection’ as a global concern, referring both to animal welfare and the conservation of animal species: Sykes, n. 3 above, Section 2.

22 OIE, Third OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare: Implementing the OIE Standards – Addressing Regional Expectations, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 6–8 Nov. 2012, ‘Recommendations’, Recommendation No. 9, p. 4, available at:

23 Vapnek & Chapman, n. 15 above, p. 83.

24 EC – Seal Products, n. 18 above, para. 7.420. The Panel examined this question in order to be able to confirm that ‘the objective of addressing the public moral concerns on seal welfare falls within the scope of legitimate objectives within the meaning of Article 2.2 of the TBT Agreement’. For an analysis of the WTO reports, see Sykes, n. 3 above, pp. 65–6.

25 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Washington, DC (US), 3 Mar. 1973, in force 1 July 1975, available at:; Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), Bonn (Germany), 23 June 1979, in force 1 Nov. 1983, available at: On whales see the ICJ case, Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand Intervening), Judgment of 31 Mar. 2014. On elephants see Glennon, M., ‘Has International Law Failed the Elephant?’ (1990) 84(1) American Journal of International Law, pp. 143; Adams, R., Elephant Treaties: The Colonial Legacy of the Biodiversity Crisis (University Press of New England, 2014); Nollkaemper, A., ‘Framing Elephant Extinction’ (2014) 3(6) ESIL Reflections, pp. 14; Peters, A., ‘Novel Practice of the Security Council: Wildlife Poaching and Trafficking as a Threat to the Peace’, EJIL Talk! Blog of the European Journal of International Law, 12 Feb. 2014, available at:

26 E.g., European Union (EU) Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora [1992] OJ L 206/7.

27 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 5 June 1992, in force 29 Dec. 1993, available at:

28 Bowman, Davies & Redgwell, n. 18 above, p. 672.

29 Sykes, n. 3 above, p. 67.

30 N. 25 above.

31 Arts III(2) lit. (c) and VIII(3) CITES, ibid.

32 Art. 3(6), Annex II, Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty: Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora, Madrid (Spain), 4 Oct. 1991, in force 14 Jan. 1998, available at:

33 Bern (Switzerland), 19 Sept. 1982, in force 1 June 1982, available at:

34 Bern Convention Standing Committee, Recommendation No. 77 (1999) on the Eradication of Non-Native Terrestrial Vertebrates, 3 Dec. 1999, Preamble, available at:

35 IWC, Resolution 2004-3, ‘Resolution on Whale Killing Issues’ (in which the IWC ‘expresses concern, in light of its mandate and long-standing commitment to address welfare issues’).

36 The updated Discussion Paper ‘Addressing Welfare within the IWC: Intersessional Working Group on Welfare Summary Recommendations’, Doc. IWC/65/WKM&AWI05Rev 2, 17 Sept. 2014, p. 1, indicates that the ‘proposal for a definition and guiding principles of welfare has been removed. It is instead recommended that further discussions take place between interested Parties intersessionally on whether there are any opportunities to develop a shared understanding of non-hunting welfare aspects related to human activities’.

37 OIE, Terrestrial Animal Health Code (2015), available at: (Art. 7.1.1 ‘Definition’: ‘Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and appropriate veterinary treatment, shelter, management and nutrition, humane handling and humane slaughter or killing. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment that an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment’; see also Art. 7.1.2 ‘Guiding Principles for Animal Welfare’, Art. 7.1.3 ‘Scientific Basis for Recommendations’, and Art. 7.1.4 ‘General Principles for the Welfare of Animals in Livestock Production Systems’).

39 The IWC’s regulations (as opposed to its recommendations) which amend the schedule are an exception: Art. V of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), Washington, DC (US), 2 Dec. 1946, in force 10 Nov. 1948, available at:

40 Favre, D., ‘An International Treaty for Animal Welfare’ (2012) 18 Animal Law Review, pp. 237279, at 252.

41 CoE (Framework) Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes, Strasbourg (France), 10 Mar. 1976, in force 10 Sept. 1978, available at:; and its Protocol for Adaptation to Biotechnologies, Strasbourg (France), 6 Feb. 1992, available at: Within the EU, see Directive 98/58/EC concerning the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes [1998] OJ L 221/23; Directive 1999/74/EC laying down Minimum Standards for the Protection of Laying Hens [1999] OJ L 203/53; Directive 2008/120/EC laying down Minimum Standards for the Protection of Pigs [2009] OJ L 47/5; Directive 2007/43/EC laying down Minimum Rules for the Protection of Chickens Kept for Meat Production [2007] OJ L 182/19.

42 CoE Convention for the Protection of Animals during International Transport, Paris (France), 13 Dec. 1968, in force 20 Feb. 1971, available at:; and its Additional Protocol to allow EU Membership, Strasbourg (France), 10 May 1979, in force 7 Nov. 1989, available at: (which since its entry into force forms an integral part of the Convention); as amended by Revised Convention, Chisinau (Moldova), 6 Nov. 2003, in force 14 Mar. 2006, available at: (open for signature also for the EU and non-Member States of the CoE).

43 CoE Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter, Strasbourg (France), 10 May 1979, in force 11 June 1982, available at:

44 CoE Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, Strasbourg (France), 13 Nov. 1987, in force 1 May 1992, available at:

45 E.g., ECtHR, Tierbefreier e.V. v. Germany, appl. no. 45192/09, Judgment, 16 Jan. 2014.

46 Otter, C., O’Sullivan, S. & Ross, S., ‘Laying the Foundations for an International Animal Protection Regime’ (2012) 2(1) Journal of Animal Ethics, pp. 5372, at 68.

47 White, n. 21 above, pp. 391–2.

48 Bowman, Davies & Redgwell, n. 18 above, p. 698.

49 Ibid.

50 See the references in nn. 46–48.

51 Cf. Kelch, T.G., Globalization and Animal Law: Comparative Law, International Law, and International Trade (Wolters Kluwer, 2011); Park, M. & Singer, P., ‘The Globalization of Animal Welfare: More Food Does not Require More Suffering’ (2012) 91(2) Foreign Affairs, pp. 122133.

52 For a discussion of consumer choices made in the context of shopping decisions, which are often ‘subject to self-deception and biases’, see Kelch, n. 2 above, Section 3.3 and text at nn. 132–46.

53 Cf. Vapnek & Chapman, n. 15 above, p. 83 (‘Regardless of the ethical concerns, many countries may choose to enact and enforce animal welfare legislation in the interest of increasing production and trade in animal-based foods for both international and domestic markets’).

54 Regulation (EC) No. 1007/2009 on Trade in Seal Products [2009] OJ L 286/36; Preamble, Recital 1: ‘Seals are sentient beings that can experience pain, distress, fear and other forms of suffering’; Recital 4: ‘The hunting of seals has led to expressions of serious concerns by members of the public and governments sensitive to animal welfare considerations due to the pain, distress, fear and other forms of suffering which the killing and skinning of seals, as they are most frequently performed, cause to those animals’.

55 Kuemlangan, n. 15 above, p. v.

56 Kelch, n. 2 above, p. 102.

57 Peters, A., ‘The Competition between Legal Orders’ (2014) 3(1) International Law Research, pp. 4565.

58 US Government Accountability Office, Report to Congressional Committees, ‘Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter’, GAO-11-228, June 2011, available at:

59 Adopted on the occasion of the first Basel Conference, ‘Research at a Crossroads’, Basel (Switzerland), 29 Nov. 2010, available at: The official wording is a ‘call for more trust, transparency and communication on animal research’.

60 Cf. Favre, n. 40 above, p. 248 (‘Unrestrained economic competition will always impose the most inhumane conditions on the animals within the system, as they tend to be the cheapest management practices’).

61 For a reform proposal to raise welfare standards for farmed animals in Germany which takes into account the danger of a migration of the industry beyond the state boundaries, together with a number of suggestions on how to prevent such migration, see: Wissenschaftlicher Beirat für Agrarpolitik beim Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, Wege zu einer gesellschaftlich akzeptierten Nutztierhaltung: Gutachten (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, 2015).

62 Murphy, D.D., The Structure of Regulatory Competition (Oxford University Press, 2004); Baldwin, R., Cave, M. & Lodge, M., Understanding Regulation: Theory, Strategy, and Practice, 2nd edn (Oxford University Press, 2012), Ch. 17 ‘Regulatory Competition and Coordination’, pp. 356–69. The textbook example for this process is anti-corruption. In the 1980s, in response to the Watergate scandal, the US adopted strict national anti-corruption laws. When the domestic requirement to comply with these high standards put US firms at a disadvantage in the new markets which had opened up in Eastern Europe following its transformation in the 1990s, the US pressured for and succeeded in establishing an international anti-corruption regime (the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, 21 Nov. 1997, available at:, which constrains the business of all state parties.

63 WTO Committee on Agriculture, ‘European Communities Proposal: Animal Welfare and Trade in Agriculture’, WTO Doc. No. G/AG/NG/W/19, 28 June 2000.

64 Vapnek & Chapman, n. 15 above, p. 17.

65 Favre, n. 40 above, p. 239.

66 Vienna (Austria), 23 May 1969, in force 27 Jan. 1980, available at:

67 The precondition of Art. 31 VCLT and its underlying principle – that the rule be ‘applicable in the relations between the parties’ – were construed infamously narrowly by the WTO Panel in EC – Biotech. The Panel noted that the Cartagena Protocol, on which the European Community as respondent had relied for interpreting the pertinent WTO Agreements, was in fact ‘not applicable’, because the Protocol had not been ratified by a number of WTO members, including the complaining parties to the dispute (Argentina, Canada, and the US): EC – Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products, Panel Reports, WTO Docs WT/DS 291–293/R, 29 June 2006, paras 7.49–7.95, notably para. 7.75. The WTO Appellate Body in the Airbus case moved away from the Biotech approach: European Communities and certain Member States – Measures affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft, Appellate Body Report, WTO Doc. WT/DS316/AB/R, 18 May 2011, paras 839–55. The better and now prevailing view is that it is not necessary for all states in the organization/treaty to also be parties to the other treaty to make the latter usable, if they are not involved in the dispute.

68 Heyvaert, V. & Etty, T.F.M., ‘Introducing Transnational Environmental Law’ (2012) 1(1) Transnational Environmental Law, pp. 111.

69 Ibid., pp. 4–6.

70 Otter, O’Sullivan & Ross, n. 46 above; White, n. 21 above.

71 ‘The OIE’s Achievements in Animal Welfare’, 10 Sept. 2014, available at:

72 See also Otter, O’Sullivan & Ross, n. 46 above, p. 65.

73 See the Organic Statutes of the OIE (which is an Appendix and integral part of the International Agreement for the Creation of an Office International des Epizooties in Paris, Paris (France), 25 Jan. 1924, available at: ), Art. 4: ‘The main objects of the Office are: a. To promote and co-ordinate all experimental and other research work concerning the pathology or prophylaxis of contagious diseases of livestock for which international collaboration is deemed desirable’.

74 Otter, O’Sullivan & Ross, n. 46 above, pp. 65, 67–8.

75 Gibson, Cf. M., ‘The Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare’ (2011) 16(2) Deakin Law Review, pp. 539567, with the draft text in the appendix.

76 New York, NY (US), 10 Dec. 1948, UNGA Resolution 217A, available at:

77 Favre, n. 40 above.

78 Bowman, Davies & Redgwell, n. 18 above, p. 699.

79 Kelch, n. 2 above.

80 Horta, O., ‘Expanding Global Justice: The Case for the International Protection of Animals’ (2013) 4(4) Global Policy, pp. 371380; see also Nussbaum, M.C., ‘Beyond “Compassion and Humanity”’, in C.R. Sunstein & M.C. Nussbaum (eds), Animal Rights: Debates and New Directions (Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 299319, at 319 (‘Truly global justice requires not simply that we look across the world for other fellow species members who are entitled to a decent life. It also requires looking around the world at the other sentient beings with whose lives our own are inextricably and complexly intertwined’).

81 Horta, ibid., p. 372.

82 Ibid., p. 375. See also Favre, n. 40 above, p. 244 (‘A horse is a horse regardless of what country it lives in, and it is not appropriate that it can receive high care in some places and no concern in others. For the wellbeing of the animals we need to seek a more universal view about how to treat animals’).

83 Peters, n. 1 above.

84 Seminally, Ritvo, H., ‘On the Animal Turn’ (2007) 136(4) Daedalus, pp. 118122; Sykes, n. 3 above. The ‘animal turn’ is an increasing scholarly interest in animals in new terms and under new premises, focusing on the relationships between humans and other animals, and on the role and status of animals in (human) society: Peters, A., Stucki, S. & Boscardin, L., ‘The Animal Turn: What Is It and Why Now?’,, 14 Apr. 2014, available at:

85 For ethnography see Haraway, D.J., When Species Meet (University of Minnesota Press, 2008); Kirksey, E. & Helmreich, S., ‘The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography’ (2010) 25(4) Cultural Anthropology, pp. 545576; Ingold, T., ‘Anthropology Beyond Humanity’ (2013) 38(3) Suomen Antropologi, Journal of the Finish Anthropological Society, pp. 523. For political theory see Donaldson, S. & Kymlicka, W., Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (Oxford University Press, 2011); Ahlhaus, S. & Niesen, P., ‘What is Animal Politics? Outline of a New Research Agenda’ (2015) 40 Historische Sozialforschung, pp. 731.



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