Updated December 2014
There is a growing understanding in society of the importance of respect and protection for animals as an indicator of moral standards. Animal protection has become an important ethical and political question commanding major public support in many countries. Despite this, there are as yet few examples of countries that have secured even the basic requirements for humane treatment of animals in their constitutions.
Animals are sentient beings with an intrinsic value. Action to take full and proper account of animal protection in international, national and regional constitutions and charters is long overdue. World Animal Net (WAN), the most widely connected animal protection organization in the world with over 1,500 affiliated societies, has launched this project to start an international movement in favor of placing animal protection in constitutions.
The call to include animal protection in constitutions is designed to raise awareness of the importance of the animal protection ethic among politicians and the public and to elevate the status of animal protection. It is also considered important in practical terms, as explained in 'Why Does This Matter?'. However, inclusion of animal protection in constitutions should in no way be taken as an alternative to the introduction of well-drafted and effectively enforced animal welfare/protection legislation.
The WAN website contains a comprehensive Animal Protection Law Resource section.
Also, although this is not the specific target of the constitution project, WAN is pleased to advise on national animal welfare/protection policy, legislation and enforcement – in particular, with regard to queries on the drafting or implementation of policy/legislation, or of associated advocacy and education. WAN has recently concluded a Model Animal Welfare Act project, which is an expert reference tool for countries seeking to introduce or improve their animal welfare/protection legislation. We also have sources of legal and practical expertise in the field of animal welfare/protection legislation from around the world.
Sentient - capable of experiencing feelings. Sentient beings share with us consciousness, feelings, emotions, perceptions – and the ability to experience pain, suffering, fear and states of well-being.
Intrinsic value - having an inherent value (i.e. they have a value and purpose that does not depend on their usefulness to man).
The more countries and regions that become involved in this project, the more strength and credibility it will gain. Animal protection organizations in some countries are already campaigning for animal protection to be included in their constitution and/or charter. We hope that this information will prove useful to them, and that they will share their information and expertise to the benefit of other countries just starting this campaign.
WAN information can be used as a starting point. This includes these background notes and accompanying information on the UN, Council of Europe, EU and national situations. But the local and national situation needs to be researched before action is taken. Firstly, consider your society's capabilities and priorities to decide whether to take part in this project. It is likely to be a long-term project and is unlikely to be simple. However, it can be done at low costs, and the potential rewards are great. Other important considerations are whether your country/region/town has a written constitution or charter (vital to the national angle of this project!).
Many organizations may not have central government contacts and/or lobbying experience. In this case, consideration could be given to carrying out the campaign at local level, or through letter writing rather than personal lobbying.
Conversely, organizations with good national government contacts and lobbying abilities may decide not only to carry out the project at national level, but also to lobby your government to support improvements at the United Nations, Council of Europe and/or European Union level (if within Europe), or your own Regional Economic Community (if outside Europe). It will be particularly important for countries that already have animal protection in their constitutions, and those that are sympathetic to animal protection, to promote changes at supra-national level through their governments.
Animal protection organizations in countries without a written constitution may decide to take part in another way - perhaps by working at regional or town level. There may already be tools, such as a City Charter, that could form a focus for lobbying. If not, you may want to persuade your region or city to adopt an 'Animal Charter' or 'Animal Policy'. Many local governments (and cities) have adopted policies and charters in other areas, such as an 'environmental policy' or a 'Citizens' Charter' - so why not one for animals!
Animal protection organizations with limited resources may decide that they want to take part in this project, but with limited involvement (for example, letter writing).
Whenever possible, World Animal Net will lend support to national campaigns/lobbying when requested.
Once a decision has been taken to go ahead with the constitution project, and the target(s) have been identified, a detailed campaign and lobby plan should be formulated. This should include:
WAN will periodically update organizations about action taken in other countries, and any progress achieved.
Campaign activity could include:
Lobbying could include:
WAN will carry out its own advocacy at UN level.
Animal protection organizations are asked to write in support of WAN's lobbying and to lobby their own national and regional contacts (in conjunction with any appropriate regional alliances)
Click here for some suggested letters to your national or local government, the United Nations, Council of Europe and European Union to lobby for constitutional protection for animals.
Minimum Needed for Constitutional Provisions on Animal Protection:
WAN calls for animal protection societies across the world to campaign and lobby in support of these objectives.