St Ursula University, Brazil
That is an essay about the benefits offered by Animal’s Rights to Human Rights – HR on XXI century.
One of the most important consequences from II WWW was the world campaign to promote HR as absolute values for States and Civil Societies – quite successful at Occident considering internationals and global normative systems for HR protection. One of its main concrete expression is the promotion of public policies for inclusion for minorities, which has been historically neglected or explored.
On social level, the improvement of HR comes from the dialectics between two sources. First, the social claims for minorities inclusions – which guarantee legitimation for respective public policies. Second, the normative force from law in order to obligate social actors and institutions to accomplish public policies – which guarantee legality and rationality for minorities’ social inclusions.
As result, at medium and long term, it is possible to realize material changes in social representations for those minorities, which improves absolute and rational values of individual rights and solidarity on the respective society. The general hypothesis I would like to discuss is that, historically, the gradual recognition and the inclusion of specific social groups has as main effect the improvement of general and absolute values that bases HR.
As a example, if we make the exercise to resignificate Animal’s Rights as a kind of minority rights, it is possible to recognize the same contributions for HR improvement on social level. Mostly when civil society reveals strong engagement.
There are three legal aspects to be highlighted. i) animals are officially object of law which means they don’t have civil capacity to act in lawsuits, and, by law, the recognition of some rights for some species is the exception, not the rule; ii) animal’s protection is officially justified not as autonomous right, but as part of “environment protection” on behalf of HR – anthropocentric epistemology; iii) Animal’s Rights are procedurally classified as collective right, so the environmental questions officially should be persecuted in collective lawsuits, proposed by Public Ministry or NGO.
The most innovation decisions for Animal’s Rights come from Judicial Power attending social claims, since 30 years ago, founded on 1988 Brazilian Constitution, in which the aspects I and ii are being reshaped by Jurisprudence in order to recognize the enlargement of animal’s rights. The most part of lawsuits is being proposed by NGO, revealing specific and huge demand from civil society to reduce animal abuse.
As illustration, I present some cases of Animal’s Rights in Brazil, where Judicial Activism has as main role the minority’s rights enforcement in a context of a patriarchal and rural-aristocratic society. I) the interdiction of cook fights, bull fights and dog fights although it’s strong cultural and economic relevance for some social and economic groups; ii) the interdiction to promote euthanasia of healthy animals rescued from abuse or from the streets, historically used as public policy for animal population control are the most relevant decisions.
The Legislative and the Executive powers also takes action to increase social rights for animals, to improve Public Power’s liability to fight animal abuse, and to expand economic actors’ liability for non-contractual damages caused to animals.
Those are the legality aspect prevailing Animal’s Rights over traditional social and economic interests.
Besides, several websites, social networks profiles and press agencies specialized in Animal’s Rights have been increasing and becoming popular on the last years. Population controls and denunciates animal’s abuse on public and private space. The “pet” economic sector is strengthening. Veterinary and Animal’s wellness courses are increasing. Vegan market and cruelty-free brands are replacing old practices with animal suffering. Scientific experiments rationalizes animal use to the minimum possible and reduces its suffering. Animal’s Rights movements become respectable and listened by government and companies. Animal’s Rights become part of company’s compliance programs.
Those are the legitimacy aspect consolidating the increase of social representation for absolute values of individual rights and solidarity.
Historically, minorities’ rights are being gradually consolidated, on waves of improvement. Equality of gender and race, recognition of special rights for children and aged people, social inclusion for disable people are examples of differences overcame in anthropocentric perspective. It’s also happening for Animal’s Rights.
So, from this point of view, the specific contribution from Animal’s Rights to HR is to expand the spectrum of legality and legitimacy beyond anthropocentric epistemology. Even if Animal’s Rights continue to be founded on anthropocentric perspective, its increasing legitimacy and legality allows us to propose the specific hypothesis that there is special social claim to reduce violence and abuse in absolute terms, improving life and individual rights as a rational value to be applied to all speciesand to be respected by all social groups. For social psychology and recognitions theories, its importance can be studied on solidarity conception enforcement, for instance. It can also be studied as expansion of HR scope and enforcement of HR values towards an ecocentric epistemology, in which the species would have absolute values to be respected, largely than only for human specie.