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Call for dignity to be the foundation of international animal rights laws

There are no compelling reasons why the concept of dignity, one of the key justifications of human rights law, should not extend to animals.

MANDY O’GARRETTY: ‘Deakin Law School researchers are calling for international legal recognition of animal rights or welfare to be based on the concept of dignity in line with the approach taken with international human rights. Dr Jane Kotzmann and Ms Cassandra Seery argue in a paper published in a recent issue of the Michigan State International Law Review that there are no compelling reasons why the concept of dignity, one of the key justifications of human rights law, should not extend to animals…

“Arguments often suggest that there is something about being human—rationality, conscience, reason or choice—which is the foundation of dignity and that these traits can only apply to human beings,” Dr Kotzmann said. “However, it is not clear why these particular characteristics should be the basis of dignity as opposed to other possible attributes such as sentience, which is the ability to feel or sense…

Beyond the conceptual reasons why dignity cannot be exclusive to human beings, Ms Seery said time spent with animals would suggest that they do have dignity. “Many animals share ‘human’ attributes such as intelligence, emotion and social bonds,” she said. “It is also clear that many animals can experience pleasure, enjoyment, pain, distress, fear, anxiety and suffering. Research also indicates that some animals have the capacity to comprehend and use languages”.’  SOURCE…

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