opening session

The emergence of a new legal discipline in Europe: Animal Law


 Professor in the Faculty of Law and Economic Sciences of Université de Limoges
          Member of the Institute for European Law of Human Rights in Université Montpellier I
Director of the Revue Semestrielle de Droit Animalier [Bi-Annual Journal of Animal Law]

        It is a great and unexpected honor for me to participate today here in Barcelona at this prestigious gathering under the National of the II Global Animal Law Conference as my speaking exclusively in French would normally prevent me from participating in this international conference.

        If you permit me, I would like to express my thanks for the friendship and indulgence of Marita Gimenéz-Candela who has invited me after the creation of her Master Program, a pioneering example in Europe and an example for the entire world, to participate in her course with her brilliant and committed students, even with some linguistic difficulties. I am infinitely grateful for her generosity considering that, in my particular case, the linguistic barrier could have been a reason to be left out. I nonetheless have to confess that I find it a bit odd that I am asked to speak in the name of European Jurists on Animal Law given that I come from a European country where the topic of the legal protection of animals is not at all advanced. It is without a doubt that my role as the founder and director, since 2009 of the Bi-Annual Journal of Animal Law has given me this disproportionate role before this impressive international Congress dominated, as should be the case, by the English language which, on a personal level I love as the language both of Rock as well as the language of Law.

     Animal Law in Europe, in this way and especially the Master created here in the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona by Marita Gimenéz-Candela, about whom all European Jurists interested in issue regarding animals own recognition, gratitude and admiration for the immense work in the pioneering field that she has accomplished, together with a passionate and competent team working together. Education in a unique Master working helps all young Law students who wish in their hearts to help protect animals more efficiently go along the path of hope. Education is not enough, however, for a new respected and developed legal discipline to emerge, it must be accompanied by research to make animal law truly known in Europe.

     This research is found specifically in high quality theses, such as the one by Carlos Contreras recently defended under the direction of Marita Gimenéz-Candela. Research must also mobilize all university students who have long been interested in animal questions without having the opportunity to directly and scientifically tackle them because they have long been too shy or had no guidance to surmount the obstacles that the academic tradition has placed to dissuade them from trying.
    It’s important to appeal to the quotation by John Stuart Mill which appears in the important book by Tom Regan; “All movements must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion and adoption”. For too long, the legal questions regarding animals have been kept in the trapped in this stage of ridicule by European Universities in general and French universities in particular. As such, we need to enter the discussion phase in a way such that jurists can provide to civil society at large the necessary tools to debate on equal footing and to adopt protective measures for and against animals into the law which will no longer be subordinate to the veto of organizations which defend professional or cultural interests, or to researchers or hunters. This mobilization of jurists, university students and advocates, together with veterinarians and attorneys are the most directly concerned by the concrete and sordid reality of animal suffering, can be done through specialized legal journals. There exists one that, to my pleasure and advantage, has brought me here today. Luckily it is not alone. To my knowledge, there exists at least one more, in Finland at Abo Akademi, coming from Professor Birgitta Wahlberg.
    I ask all European Jurists to collaborate in these journals and to create others so that animal law definitively emerges as a new university discipline, benefitting from true scientific legitimacy and enjoys an established and autonomous position such as environmental law, energized by the recent decisions of the International Court of Justice from 31 March 2014 regarding the Japanese Whale Hunting program and the Appeals Board Decision from the WTO of 22 May 2014 considering the import ban initiated by the European Union on products derived from seals. If animal law is recognized on such a level and the teaching can be extended, as in the example of Barcelona, through several European Universities or the protection of animals, which we all know is cruelly lack, becomes more concrete and effective thanks to judges who will be trained in this new discipline.

     Coming from the first university specialized in European Human Rights Law, allow me to add that animal law certainly deserves to become an autonomous discipline through whose theoretical doors the protection of animals will emerge. In short, returning again to the crucial questions that touch on life and death, on suffering and pleasure, on servitude and freedom, on nature and culture, the Law advances overcoming barriers to surmount contradictions and to reveal its hidden secrets.

W le droit animalier!

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