Animal rights

THE REVISED VERSION OF THE IDEA:

The state has a duty to protect all animals from the intentional or reckless infliction of suffering by humankind, for whatever purpose, and to ensure that citizens provide animals in their care with the Five Freedoms (as defined by the Government's Farm Animal Welfare Council).

THE OLD VERSION OF THE IDEA:

That the constitution should include a requirement for the protection of animals from cruelty and abuse. Including all domestic and wild creatures.

edited on Apr 17, 2015 by Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 5, 2015

Hi everyone, now that we have moved to the next phase of this project our goal is to rewrite the ideas that have received positive votes. I just wanted to clarify one thing since the topic got quite heated in the first phase: Since this idea has many votes, we will no longer be debating whether animal rights should be in the Constitution or not. There is a clear majority for including them.

Now we just have to decide how we are going to word it, and how far these rights should go. We have to be willing to mitigate between different views at this point and preferably reach a consensus. For example, there were some suggestions on going so far as banning all consumption of meat. Personally, I believe no matter how moral such a proposal is, the practical implications of doing so simply make it impossible to include that. We have to negotiate and be willing to meet each other half way. 

Does anyone have a suggestion about how this idea can be rewritten? Or do you think TrevorPearson's proposal is sufficient? Ideally it would be great if you, TrevorPearson, could redraft the idea taking into consideration the comments made. 

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Fiona Condon Apr 5, 2015

It's a shame that were aren't able to see previous comments as I didn't see this idea in the earlier phase and I don't want to go over the same ground.

I feel that our ideas about what constitutes fair treatment of animals is still evolving and, whereas in the past it might have been considered perfectly all right to have dog fights or dancing bears in chains, these are now generally (but not univerally) regarded as unacceptable. On the other hand, some people think it perfectly acceptable to eat meat but others see that as beyond the pale. Somewherein bwtween is he idea that we should not subject the the animals that we are going to eat to unnecessary pain and degradation. This is all further muddied by religious practices and how far we should go to accomodate them. My feeling, therefore, is that whateer is in the constitution should be worded in faily general terms.

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 5, 2015

Fiona, you can see all the comments previously made on this idea by going back to the 'Hacking the content' phase. This is done by clicking the button right above the idea score. Let me know if you are having troubles finding it. 

I agree with you that this provision should be worded as generally as possible in order to reach a wide agreement. But we have to make sure it is not too general, in order to prevent this provision missing the mark or allowing lawmakers to bypass it to easily. I think your suggestion about that we should not subject animals to unnecessary pain and degradation is a good start. What do others think? 

Fiona Condon Apr 5, 2015

Thanks - I'm not finding it easy to navigate the site.

View all replies (2)

Hugh Ryan Apr 6, 2015

For me a constitution is about the relationship between the state and the citizen. Animals, not being citizens, do not fall within this definition. That said, I would certainly want to see primary legislation covering the humane treatment of animals and providing penalties for those individuals contravening the provisions of the law.

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 7, 2015

Since this idea has been accepted and the original form includes protection for animals from the point of view of animals and not humans, I think in order to move forward effectively we should not debate anymore whether the Constitution is only for humans. If people disagree that there should be a animal rights clause from the point of view of animals, there is still the possibility of voting ideas down. Thank you for your understanding. 

HTR, do you think that securing the humane treatment of animals should only be done on the legislative level, or do you agree that there should be space for this in the Constitution? 

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Dan Lyons Apr 7, 2015

Thinking about constitutional theory and practice, they are - and can be - about a great deal more than the relationship between state and citizen. I'm not sure where the idea comes from that that is a plausible and compelling definition? To take just two examples, the ECHR performs a constitutional role across the continent and that regulates the relationship between government and non-citizens such as newly-arrived immigrants. Also, Germany's constitution contains an animal protection clause.

An important, substantial function of a constitution is to prevent the state or a demoratically elected majority abusing the powerless/vulnerable minorities and as nonhumans share the same moral characteristics as humans in terms sentience and capacity for suffering then there is no good, nonprejudiced reason to neglect their protection in constitutional or any other political institution.

A constitutional provision for animals needs to set some minimum threshold for the state's consideration of their interests, that can prevent the exercise of power in policy-making sacrificing their welfare for the sake of narrow vested interests. I'll come back with some ideas asap

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Cecilia Rossler Apr 8, 2015

Could I suggest that this be reworded to "Animals, including all domestic and wild creatures, should be protected from cruelty and abuse."

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 8, 2015

Cecilia, I think we should maybe add the word 'unnecessary' in there, because killing and eating animals can of course be regarded as cruelty because no matter how humanely done, it is still taking their lives, which is quite cruel if you ask me. 

I suggest it should say: "Animals, including all domestic and wild creatures, should be protected from unnecessary cruelty and abuse."

Mark Cooke Apr 12, 2015

Much though I sympathise with the sentiment,  I can't see what such a general rule would add to the constitution.  What democratically elected parliament is not going to pass rules preventing animal cruelty?  And on the areas of disagreement,  resolving those is what Parliament is for.

The key point is surely that entrenched  human rights  can provide a basis for legal enforcement against Parliament  by individuals - animals rights can only be enforced by human action through state agency, which is just politics, really.

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 12, 2015

I appreciate your input, however at this stage of the project we are unfortunately no longer debating whether an idea should be in the Constitution or not, but how. At this stage of the project all ideas will be rewritten and presented for a final vote. But you are of course fully free to vote ideas up and down meanwhile this is done. 

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 12, 2015

 

Note from Moderators: We have been unable to make contact with the community member who originally submitted this idea and there have been no edits to their submission so far in the refining phase. With only one week remaining this idea has now been taken under the stewardship of the project facilitators for this challenge (the original idea authors are invited to resume ownership of the idea at any point). We will now work to redraft the original submission in line with your comments and suggestions. We will make no substantive contributions to the actual idea content, but instead will seek to clarify and make more concise the original submission. Please do use the comments below to offer suggestions on specific wording and to guide us on which suggestions should take priority (by voting comments up/down).

Dan Lyons Apr 15, 2015

Thanks Salka. I think the problem with the term 'unnecessary' is that in reality it is a highly discretionary/subjective idea that, when implemented, tends to be pretty meaningless because in practice it is interpreted by vested interest groups in closed policy networks who set the bar much lower for 'necessary' animal cruelty than the public at large. 

I would suggest that what is needed is something that reflects current realities, includes an empirically-verifiable standard to control the abuse of discretionary power, gives an indication of where animal protection should be placed in relation to other government values, particularly economic ones, while injuncting the state to ensure that future policy moves in the direction of animal protection rather than exacerbating current levels of animal harm:

"The state has a duty to protect animals from harm and improve animal welfare, as defined by the five freedoms*, with a view to achieving the elimination of animal harm caused or put at risk by human activities. Animal welfare must be prioritised over economic considerations."

* See https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/farm-ani...fe-worth-living

This is a suggestion but I will continue to consult with politics and legal experts with an interest in this field and try to feed their ideas in.

 

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 15, 2015

Thank you so much for this Dan Lyons. I would be happy to add this proposal to the original post, it would however be great if you could suggest a formal wording that doesn't include a reference to a link. I assume the final Constitution will not be modern enough for such a technology. But everything else is great. Thanks. 

Dan Lyons Apr 17, 2015

Hi Salka

I've consulted with a leading legal expert in animal welfare public law. So now we have a more succinct proposed clause:

The state has a duty to protect all animals from the intentional or reckless infliction of suffering by humankind, for whatever purpose, and to ensure that citizens provide animals in their care with the Five Freedoms (as defined by the Government's Farm Animal Welfare Council).

 

 

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 17, 2015

Thank you for this Dan Lyons. I will amend the idea accordingly. 

Dave Burr Apr 17, 2015

Keep it simple. Revert to the intermediate proposal :  what Cecilia Rossler said -----

Could I suggest that this be reworded to "Animals, including all domestic and wild creatures, should be protected from cruelty and abuse."

The word "unnecessary"  must NOT be included. All cruelty is unnecessary.

C Chapman Apr 17, 2015

I totally agree with DaveBurr comment that "The word "unnecessary"  must NOT be included. All cruelty is unnecessary"

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 17, 2015

The reason I changed the redraft to Dan Lyons's suggestion is that it is more precise than Cecilia's proposal because cruelty can be many things, killing animals can be regarded as cruelty for example. If the other proposal would stand it could be interpreted as all meat consumption should be banned. What Dan Lyons suggests only refers to suffering, and one can have meat consumption without suffering. 

However, it would be nice to hear from other users which wording they would prefer. I can see that DaveBurr and CChapman agree with Cecilia's proposal but two have also liked Dan Lyons's comment. If enough people would prefer Cecilia's proposal, I will change the idea accordingly tomorrow. Hope we can find a solution to this disagreement that everyone will be willing to settle on. 

C Chapman Apr 17, 2015

As Dan has significant experience in this field and has consulted a legal expert in animal welfare public law, I am happy to endorse his pragmatic suggestion. That said - meat consumption most certainly does cause animal suffering. I do not  therefore concur with your statement Salka that you can have meat consumption without suffering.....

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 18, 2015

That is great to hear CChapman. And just to be clear I meant that you are able to kill animals by causing the least amount of suffering possible. Of course an absolute pain free death is impossible. I am sorry not to have been more clear, but it was just a way of saying that I prefer referring to reducing suffering rather than reducing cruelty because I think it better hits the mark.  

Dave Burr Apr 18, 2015

I think this is perhaps being rushed through too fast if you intend to finalize it by April 22. None of the proposals is perfect. What are the intentions regarding moving forward after April 22.? How long is there to reach a "final" version.

Most definitely, it is essential for a constitution to have provisions to protect animals.  

Myself, I tend to prefer the more general wording for a constitution which is expected to last a very long time.

A. Dan's [and the lawyer's] version is rather too legalese-ish.  Also it is very narrow:  1. The duty is too limited i e to the state    2  Citizens only have a duty to provide the five freedoms [which may with time be superseded by better concepts]   3 ' intentional or reckless' is too limited e g not clear if reckless includes negligent etc etc   4  Presumably non citizens are free to ignore the 5 freedoms [including "non-doms"?]    5  Etc...the specificity invites loopholes.   How do others feel on this ?  I do agree that the five freedoms are excellent concepts, but they are not the whole solution.

B and C     Cecilia's version being more general is less likely to create loopholes, and closely relates to the original proposal. I personally prefer the more general version, but what do others say ?

Salka is correct in saying that we need to consider whether to refer to suffering or cruelty and/or abuse or all of these or what.

It is still only partly developed and needs further refinement

CChapman is correct. . Meat production does cause animal suffering, not only at slaughter but also in the way animals are reared for meat. I do have professional experience in these matters.  However, we should not be discussing or getting hung up on meat in these musings as the exercise must not be so narrow.in contexts. Let's get back to the basics,  not individual details as yet.

And to recap, here are the 3 main proposals so far, for ease of reference ------

Animal rights

A..  DAN's REVISED VERSION OF THE IDEA: 

The state has a duty to protect all animals from the intentional or reckless infliction of suffering by humankind, for whatever purpose, and to ensure that citizens provide animals in their care with the Five Freedoms (as defined by the Government's Farm Animal Welfare Council).

 B..THE OLD VERSION OF THE IDEA: 

That the constitution should include a requirement for the protection of animals from cruelty and abuse. Including all domestic and wild.............

C..CECILIA's IDEA:

"Animals, including all domestic and wild creatures, should be protected from cruelty and abuse."

 

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 18, 2015

Thank you for this DaveBurr. We have until 24:00 tonight to decide on which wording we go with. There will be a constitutional convention on April 22 where every proposal will be taken into discussion and voted on one last time. 

I hope we can hear from others in order to settle the disagreement with the wording. CChapman has said he will go with Dan's proposal. Cecilia and I are facilitators so neither of us gets a vote in this matter. Dave you seem to want to go with Cecilia's proposal. 

Fiona, what do you think? 

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