The spirit of thee universal declaration of the rights of the animals

The Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Animals has been formally proclaimed on 15th October 1978 in the UNESCO House in Paris. Its text has been written up, during international reunions, by important scientists, lawyers and philosophers, as well as by the main societies for the protection of animals. It sets up a philosophical strong line about the relations between the mankind and the other species. This philosophy, that has been strengthened by the latest scientific acquaintances, expresses species’ egalitarianism faced with Life. At dawn of the twentieth century, it proposes the man a code of Ethics. The idea of an universal egalitarianism is not a new one: we can note it in much older civilizations than the western one, and in religions different from the Judaeo-Christian ones. But these ethics should be clearly, definitely and solemnly expressed in the current world which is already considerably perturbed, under threat of destruction and where violence and cruelty blow up at every moment.

The egalitarianism of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Animal must be well understood. Stating positively, as the first item says, that " all the animals have a right to life and have the same rights to existence " does not mean that they must be on equal terms but that means there is Equality Of Rights between them The universal egalitarianism doesn't lie in denying the clear differences of builds and abilities the animals have between them, but it consists in assuming that all the species are entitled to life as part of the Natural Balance. The man has been gradually able to set up a Right Code for his own kind; but he doesn't have any peculiar right at his disposal with regard to the universe. He is just one of the earthly animal species, and one that has appeared quite recently. Humankind doesn't own Life; the man neither is the creator nor the holder: Life is owned quite as much by the insect, the fish, the mammal and the bird. " The wasp has the same rights to live as the ladybird, the shark as the goldfish, the viper as the grass snake ".

The man, taking his own use into account, has established an arbitrary hierarchy that doesn't naturally exist in the living world. This anthropocentric hierarchy has led to specism that consists in adopting a different behavior according to the species, destroying some of them for protecting other ones, or designating some as " useful", other as " vermins " or "cruel "ones". Owing to this specism the donkey is treated roughly and the horse is not, the eagle symbolizes the power and the owl has been nailed on the barn doors still alive; for the same reason some people take care of dogs and cats without giving attention to wild animals misfortune when they are caged in zoos; because of specism we have decreed that man was " intelligent " and animal " instinctive ". Specism has induced the man to think that the animal couldn't suffer as much as he can, but on the contrary, late attainments prove that the animal suffers physically as much as we do and its thought - that is much more developed than we imagine - makes it suffer psychically too. The racism which denies some people the rights that other ones claim to themselves is a Crime against humanity; the specism, which lays down a hierarchy of the rights over the world is a Crime against Life.

Biological community he belongs to, whose Life must be respected in ail its forms.
The egalitarianism of the Universal Declaration must help humanity be in harmony with the universe. It doesn't aim to make the man turn back to the primitive tribes life, to make him forgo domesticating animals or using animals for work or even killing them in order to eat them. It aims to induce the man to have Respect for Life.

Therefore the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Animals suggests the humanity a philosophy, a moral standard, and biological ethics. It mustn't result in living down the fights against human extreme poverty, against moral or physical pain, against torture, frantic selfishness or political confinement. It is not its purpose in any way. On the contrary, it is proved that taking care about the respect of the rights of the animal amounts to care about the respect of the human rights, since " the respect of the animals by the man and the respect of the men amongst them are bound together ". By means of reflection and awareness it can lead humanity to recover its position among the living species and to become integrated in the natural balance again. This seems to be a fundamental condition for its own survival which means that the human kind has to change its current way of thinking so as to renounce its anthropocentric attitude gradually, as well as to renounce any zoolatry behavior in order to take up an attitude and ethics based on the defence of Life and to give the priority over Biocentrism.

That's why the Universal Declaration makes up an important step in the history of human Intelligence and Ethics.


• 1 All the animals are entitled to live and to be happy, as I am.

• 2 I won't abandon the animal which lives with me; I wouldn't like my parents to abandon me.

• 3 I won't do them any harm ; they suffer as men do.

• 4 I won't kill animal, killing for playing or for money is a crime.

• 5 Animals are entitled to be free, as I am; circuses and zoos are prisons for animals.

• 6 I will learn how to watch, to understand and to love animals; animals will teach me to respect nature and life.

This text has been adopted by the International League of the Rights of the animal and the National Leagues afflliated at the time of the third international reunion about the rights of the animal. (London, 1977 September 21st-23rd).