“A new world of animal justice” – Sabine Brels of World Animal Justice – Sentientism Ep:189

Find Sabine’s second Sentientist Conversation with me about World Animal Justice here on YouTube and on the Podcast. Our first Sentientist Conversation is here and on the Sentientism YouTube and Podcast.

Dr Sabine Brels is a lawyer dedicated to advancing animal protection law worldwide. She teaches international and comparative animal law and published books on animal related-issues in French and English. In the last 15 years, she directed the Global Animal Law (GAL) projects and worked as legal advisor for the World Federation for Animals, the Eurogroup for Animals, and Compassion in World Farming. Besides her consulting work, she is currently leading the World Animal Justice NGO that she founded in 2023.

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” In addition to the YouTube video above the audio is on our Podcast here on Apple & here on all the other platforms.

00:00 Clips!

01:09 Welcome

–  Sabine’s previous appearance on episode 66

02:15 Sabine’s Intro

– #internationallaw , #animallaw and #animalrights

03:17 International vs. national law

– #icc #icj #unitednations

– Laws of, genocide, humanitarianism, crimes against humanity…

– Policy, law, regulation, enforcement

– Regional law e.g. EU, Asia

07:34 World Animal Justice

– Bringing non-human animals into international law

– “An animal law revolution”

– #CrimesAgainstAnimality or #sentientity ?

– “Massive crimes against animals happen every day, everywhere worldwide… it’s our collective responsibility”

– “Every day the entire European Union population is killed… that’s a reality for animals… 450 million of animals are killed per day… this is only for food… every second it’s 5000 animals killed”

– “It’s not acceptable when we know that we can do otherwise… that this is avoidable”

– Companion, stray, laboratory, sport, working, wild animals “they are all victims of crimes against animality”

– Crimes against humanity: massive murders, sequestrations, enslavement, deportations, torture, violence including sexual violence “this is what is actually happening against animals every day… and it can still be legal in some places”

– Anti-cruelty and pro-welfare laws: “usually to reduce the suffering of these exploited animals or to condemn some acts of cruelty… mostly for companion animals”

– “1/3 of countries today still have nothing to protect animals – not even the basic anti-cruelty laws”

– “Some of the most cruel practices are still legal in some countries…” force-feeding for #foiegras and #bullfighting in France are “a kind of torture for animals”

– The potential for a global consensus at least against some of those most egregious practices “That’s wrong for animals but also for our human dignity”

– India and some South American countries: have granted some rights to great apes or large mammals based on poor treatment in zoos

– WAJ: “Go faster and higher… criminality against animals is huge”

– Welfare / anti-cruelty approaches “we are not taking this concern for the gravity it is”

– “If we were doing the same to humans… it would seem unbelievable that it would be still legal… we would cry about genocides and crimes against humanity”

– WAJ’s network of experts and NGOs spanning 5 continents

– Asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) to recognise crimes against animality

– ICC is already considering adding crimes against the environment into the Rome Statute – why not crimes against animality?

– Belgium’s new law against #ecocide (up to 20 years in prison as penalty) … what about #zoocide or #senticide ?

– “Animals are remaining the missing piece of the puzzle… we cannot protect humans and the environment without taking into consideration animals”

– #onehealth “all individuals need to be protected if we want to protect the web of life”

– #Athropocentrism to #ecocentrism… but missing #sentiocentrism !

– JW “The reality of many welfare initiatives… the exploitation and the harm will continue… we’ll just be slightly less egregiously cruel as we do it… It wouldn’t be enough for humans… It shouldn’t be enough for non-human sentients either… from the perspective of the victim this is a crime”

– A #UniversalDeclarationOfSentientRights ?

– “Justice is all encompassing… the protection of #animalwelfare and #animalrights “

– “That would be a new world… a world of animal justice… not only sentient and conscious beings… but also as vulnerable beings”

– “The law should be the weapon of justice… it should protect vulnerable beings from crimes”

– “That’s where our humanity should aim from a moral perspective”

– Martha Nussbaum’s “Justice for Animals”… “the world needs an ethical awakening”

– “To go further than an ethical framework… a legal framework… and a global one”

– The stronger the sanctions, the better the protection… goodwill and good intentions aren’t enough

– JW: Where Nussbaum goes wrong re: fishes and apparently “just” forms of exploitation, harm and killing

28:22 WAJ Expert Network and Strategy

– So far 15 experts in international and animal and criminal law

– Deborah Cao’s 2018 paper: “Crimes against animals require an international response”

– Forthcoming WAJ paper defining crimes against animality, zoocide and maybe senticide

– UN’s International Court of Justice “which can recognise a general principle of law…” based on 2/3 of countries already having animal cruelty/welfare laws… to make it “an international principle”

– A treaty to establish a new animal justice / criminal court? “So much crime… way enough to have a special court”

– Focusing first on the most egregious crimes… bullfighting, zoophilia, cruel methods, vivisection, foie gras forced feeding, boiling alive…

– “We are convinced that it can go in the right direction… there is growing consciousness that animals are sentient beings… it’s our responsibility to better protect them”

37:00 Impacts on Animal Agriculture

– How would crimes against animality address chains of responsibility from consumers, through corporations and farms to a slaughterhouse worker wielding the knife (who is likely themselves also being exploited)…? “The answer is not easy”

– Compassion in World Farming’s “End It” campaign against factory farming

– Criminal law isn’t enough by itself… crimes still happen

– Individuals, companies and states can all be liable (e.g. if a state continues to allow bullfighting there could be judgements and/or diplomatic sanctions)

– Maybe one day factory farming can come to be seen as a new “organised crime” against animals

– Crimes against #sentientity?

Follow Sabine and  @WorldAnimalJustice  :

– WAJ contact:

WAJ Website

WAJ introductory Video

WAJ Linkedin

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Thanks to Graham for the post-production and to Tarabella and Denise for helping to fund this episode via our Sentientism Patreon.

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