Animal Rights: The Declaration of Animal Rights

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Think differently about (TDAS) supports animal rights in its strictest meaning which is the abolition of all animal exploitation.

During the later part of the last century there were issued several declarations of Animal rights here are just two of them.

The first is included in uncaged's website, below is an extract of the preamble followed by the declaration

"The ascription of moral and legal rights to animals, and their enshrinement in a United Nations Declaration of Animal Rights is a logical and inevitable progression of ethical thinking."

...we salute the vision of those who framed the Declaration of Human Rights, and the efforts of all those who have sought to turn that ideal into reality. We acknowledge the responsibility upon us all to challenge and overcome the abuse of human rights throughout the world, but we also believe that the greatest tribute that can be paid to the idealism of 1948 is to acknowledge the limitations of our own ideals, and to seek to shape the morality of our own future in the same way as the framers of the Declaration of Human Rights in their time.

We believe that the future belongs neither to the entrenchment nor the consolidation of the ideals of 1948 but to their extension. Specifically, we believe that the time has come to recognise the moral imperative to include non-human animals within the sphere of protection that the Declaration establishes. The human race has long recognised that animals are not merely the instruments of our desires or will, and that the reality of their capacity to experience pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering, compels us to recognise that moral limits must apply to our treatment of non-human as surely as to human.

The ascription of moral and legal rights to animals, and their enshrinement in a United Nations Declaration of Animal Rights is the logical and inevitable progression of this principle. We introduce, therefore, the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights:

"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."

Please sign this Declaration Universal Declaration of Animal Rights

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The following declaration is perhaps the most well-known of the Universal Declarations of Animal Rights and was adopted  in 1978 by the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) .


The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights was solemnly
proclaimed in Paris on 15 October 1978 at the UNESCO headquarters.

The text, revised by the international League of Animal Rights in 1989,was submitted to the UNESCO Director General in 1990 and made public the same year.

                        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

All animals have eqtial 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.
1. Animals must not he subjected to had treatments or to cruel acts.
2- If it is necessary to kill an animal, it must he instantaneous, painless and cause no apprehension.
3. A dead animal must he treated with decency.

1 Wild animals have the right to live and to reproduce in freedom in their own natural environment.
2. The prolonged deprivation of the freedom of wild animals, hunting and fishing practised as a pastime, as well as any use of wild animals for reasons that are not vital, are contrary to this fundamental right.

I  Any animal which is dependent on man has the right to proper maintenance and care.

2. It must tinder no circtimstances he abandoned or killed unjustifiablv.

3. All forms of breeding and uses of the animal must respect the physiology and behaviour specific to the species.

4. Exhibitions, shows and films involving animals must also respect their dignity and must not include any violence whatsoever.

1. Experiments on animals entailing physical or psychological suffering violate the rights of animals.
2. Replacement methods must he developed and systematically implemented.

Any act unnecessarily involving the death of an animal, and any decision leading to such an act, constitute a crime against life.

I  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.
2. The massacre of wild animals, and the pollution and destruction of biotopes are acts of genocide.

I. The specific legal status of animals and their rights must be recognised by law.
2. The protection and safety of animals must be represented at the level of Governmental organizations.

Educational and school authorities must ensure that citizens learn from childhood to observe, understand and respect animals.

Animal Rights in Relation to Human Rights

A New Moral Viewpoint
Georges Chapouthier, Ph.D. in Biology, Ph.D in Philosophy

Animal rights, according to the view expressed in the present collection of essays, have been broadly based on successive declarations of animal rights (1978, 1989) which are in turn related to successive declarations of human rights. In an historical perspective, when animal rights are seen from this viewpoint, they display one basic characteristic, i.e. the fact that they must be clearly positioned in relation to human rights. This aspiration gives rise to two basic observations.

Firstly, rights, whether human or animal, are obviously rights conferred by the human species which alone has the power of speech and the capacity to establish moral order. These rights are conferred precisely because the human species sees itself as the founder of a moral order and of the concomitant obligations.

Secondly, a number of semantic considerations should he underlined. Man is obviously a special animal and, from a strictly semantic point of view, utilitarian authors are right in describing animals as “non-human in the general sense that they are different from man. When comparing animal rights to human rights, the tendency is to focus on these “non­human animals," but it should not be forgotten that the human species itself also has animal rights.

Should animal rights be defined in relation to human rights?

If animal rights are not defined in relation to human rights, as is the case with certain utilitarian theorists (see Goffi), a serious danger arises — the danger of considering that any suffering being, whether human or animal, is entitled to virtually the same rights, or even that it may occasionally be possible to give precedence to animal rights ahead of human rights. While utilitarian theorists are usually quite cautious in this field, there is still a risk of making decisions with serious if rare moral ramifications if such positions are adopted and if human rights are not clearly defined in relation to the rights of all suffering beings.

The line of thinking presented in this collection of texts has avoided this pitfall and this stands as one of its philosophical features. For the historic reasons referred to, the view of animal rights propounded here requires a study of human rights.

Animal rights and human rights are not to be ranked on exactly the same level. Other authors have pointed out that man, a special animal, is in fact entitled to animal rights. Clearly the converse does not apply: no non-human animal is entitled to human rights. The rights of man, as originally defined, refer mainly to cultural or even political imperatives and it would be absurd to transpose them to animals. Today, however, human rights in a much broader sense are often extended to include rights to health — implying a certain longevity, a certain quality of life and soundness of body — beyond the purely cultural or political rights of the first declarations of the rights of man.

Points of agreement or conflict in rights

It is easy to imagine that in a certain number of cases, animal rights may run counter to human rights. But it should be observed that because of the basic unity of morals and even of the world, this is not a common situation: both types of rights usually operate in the same direction rather than opposite directions. In most cases therefore, there is harmonious agreement of rights and any number of examples could be quoted.

A decline in human consumption of meat, which would obviously enhance the status of animals raised for their meat and reduce the number of high-concentration caged breeding centres, would also help improve the health of the population in industrialised countries where there is a tendency to eat too much meat and a greater prevalence of certain medical conditions (cardiovascular attacks, digestive disorders etc.) So that industrialised countries can indulge in the luxury of red meat, vast quantities of vegetable proteins are imported from Third World countries where they are sorely needed. A reduction in the consumption of meat in affluent countries would ultimately lead to improvements in food circuits on a world scale. In this particular case, animal rights and human rights are clearly interdependent. Similarly, the destruction of large numbers of animal species through hunting for pleasure, the plundering of certain species for food, zoos or circuses and mass imports of exotic animals for commercial purposes, often in squalid conditions, are clearly violations of animal rights. Such cases of mass destruction reduce the biotopes and ultimately undermine humanity’s rights to a rich natural heritage, itself a potential source of discoveries for medical science, and even of a better environment more conducive to mental equilibrium than city life.

Using arguments ranging from gladiatorial combat in ancient times to modern-day bullfighting, the extent to which man’s treatment of man can be linked to man’s treatment of animals has also been shown. The first zoological gardens displayed not only animals but also strange, exotic men. A parallel can be seen with the many pet owners who, before going on holiday, abandon their animals in often squalid and cruel conditions so as not to disturb their holidays. A similar phenomenon can be seen in the pre.-holiday period in hospitals where elderly members of families are abandoned. While we may not kill our forebears, the motivation can he seen as analogous. Similarly, French researchers have observed that in the homes of alcoholics where animals are treated cruelly there are sometimes children who are also treated cruelly. Any number of examples could be given.

There are, however, cases of animal rights conflicting with human rights. This is quite obviously the case when a man is attacked by a wild animal or a parasite. In such cases, the man’s right to health or even life is clearly threatened. According to the view of animal rights presented here, precedence will obviously he given to human rights over animal rights. This is a fundamental point, as stated above, making a distinction between this view of animal rights and a certain utilitarian tradition. Yet it should be emphasised that such precedence of human rights over animal rights is only valid if there is a threat to basic human rights, in particular the right to life and health. When human life is at stake, moral legitimacy is conferred on certain biological and medical research projects. But this does not make it possible for man to do whatever he likes to an animal, however he likes. All brute sports (e.g. hunting and bullfighting) where humans cause suffering to animals for simple entertainment are condemned out of hand. Under no circumstances can they be considered as basic human rights.

A new moral viewpoint

Like the utilitarian concept, this new moral view contrasts with traditional humanist attitudes as it recognises animal rights and breaks way from the tradition of anthropocentrism (see Nouët). Unlike the utilitarian concept, but in accord with humanist attitudes, it accepts the precedence of human rights over animal rights, but only if there is a threat to very basic human rights. It can therefore he seen either as a broader form of humanism, extending beyond the borders of the human species, or as a philosophy of animal rights modulated by considerations of human rights, in other words a moderate form of biocentrism.

This view can be presented in a systematic form by showing that human rights are, to a certain extent, a very specific application of animal rights to the human species in all its singularity. Indeed, according to the concept of animal rights, every species has the right to live in accordance with requirements for life as a species and with respect to any biological balance. Human rights may be considered as the aspirations of the human species to live according to obligations —for health, culture and freedom — which are the requirements of the human species. When argued this way, the philosophy of animal rights can be seen as a general application to the entire animal kingdom of the moral contribution of the philosophy of the rights of man to the human species. The hierarchy established in the event of conflicting rights is more or less equivalent to the conflicts that form the biological balance in the biosphere.
It is also possible to extend the philosophy of animal rights as expressed in these articles to encompass a moral concept of the relationships between man and the world as a whole. By formulating the rights which man has conferred on the environment but, in this case, granting precedence in the event of conflict to suffering animals over the rights of the environment, a type of hierarchy is drawn up for use in the event of conflict: first human rights, then animal rights and lastly environmental rights. The ultimate result is a general moral philosophy which avoids the pitfalls and excesses of deep ecology..

Let us hope that this new moral concept leads to greater wisdom, for, after so many thousands of years of wars and atrocities, there is indeed a dire need for it!

     The Spirit of the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights

The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights was solemnly proclaimed on October 15, 1978, at UNESCO House in Paris. The declaration constitutes a philosophical stance on the relationship that must now he established hehveen the human species and other species. The philosophy is founded on modern scientific knowledge and expresses the principle of the equality of species with regard to Life. At the threshold of the 21st century, it provides humanity with a code of biological ethics. Universal egalitarianism is not a new concept; it is seen in civilisations predating Western civilisation and in religions quite different from the Judeo-Christian tradition. But these ethics needed to he stated clearly and firmly in today’s world which has already suffered considerable disruption and is constantly threatened with destruction, violence and cruelty.

While humanity has gradually managed to draw tip a code of rights for its own species, it does not hold any special right over the universe, being, in fact, only one of the animal species on the planet and one of the most recent. Life does not belong to human species; man is neither the creator nor exclusive holder of Life. Life belongs eqtially to fish, insects, mammals, birds and even plants. In the living world, man has created an arbitrary hierarchy not found in nature and which only takes into account specifically human uses. This anthropocentric hierarchy has given rise to specism, i.e. the adoption of different attitudes for different species, destroying some, while protecting others, declaring some to be useful and others "pests" or “fierce", reserving the term "intelligence" for the human species, whereas animals are merely granted “instincts.". Specism is what led man to believe that animals do not experience suffering as humans do. Today it is quite clear that, on the contrary, animals do experience physical suffering the same way as humans, and that animal thought, related to the presence of a central nervous system, is far more complex than neuroscience had previously suggested, which therefore means that animals also experience mental suffering.

The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights is designed to help humanity restore harmony to the universe. It is not designed to revive the lifestyle of primitive tribes. It is a stage during which humans will come to respect life in all its forms, for the benefit of the entire biological community to which mankind belongs and on which it depends. The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights is not intended as a diversion or distraction from the battle against human poverty and suffering, both mental and physical, against rampant selfishness, political detention and torture. Quite the opposite. By observing respect for animal rights, respect for human rights will follow, the two being inseparable.

The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights provides humanity with a philosophy, a code of biological ethics and a code of moral behaviour which, when given careful consideration, when true awareness is developed, will see the human race resume its proper position amongst the different living species as part of the balance of nature, this being the basic prerequisite for the very survival of the human species. This means that the human species will have to change current attitudes and abandon anthropocentrism, as well as all forms of zoolatry, so as to adopt a mode of behaviour and moral code based on the defence of Life, with precedence being given to biocentrism.

With such ambitions, the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights constitutes a key stage in the history of human intelligence and moral considerations.

These excerpts are from the book:
The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights
Comments and Intentions
Edited by
Georges Chapouthier and Jean-Claud Nouet
Ligue Francaise des Droits de l' Animal
Paris - 1998


Universal Declaration

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