Explore relatively recent phenomenon of textual provisions that assign constitutional significance to the experiences of individual nonhuman animals.
Constitutions mention animals in many different contexts. This entry will focus on the relatively recent phenomenon of textual provisions that assign constitutional significance to the experiences of individual nonhuman animals (hereafter simply ‘animals’). This category includes provisions that reference the ‘welfare’ or ‘dignity’ of animals, the ‘protection’ of animals, ‘compassion’ for animals, or ‘cruelty’ towards animals as matters of constitutional concern.
Click on the jurisdictions listed below to view their current constitutional provisions related to the treatment of animals, along with relevant case law and additional resources.
“Article 11. (1) In the following matters legislation is the business of the Federation, execution that of the provinces:
8. Animal protection, to the extent not being in the competence of federal legislation according to other regulations, but with the exception of the exercise of hunting or fishing.”
Federal Constitutional Law of the Republic of Austria: 1 October 1920 (as Amended to Federal Act No. 65/2012 of 25 July 2012) Chapter 1 General Provisions European Union, Part A General Provisions, Art. 11(1)(8) and Art. 11(9) (Austria))
G167/2014 (4 March 2015) V83/2014 ua
Original Case Text
GZ G220/06 (18 June 2007) VfSlg 18150
Original Case Text
Binder, R, ‘Animal Welfare Regulation: Shortcomings, Requirements, Perspectives. The Case for Regulating the Human-Animal Relationship’ in Peters, A, Stucki, S, and Boscardin, L, (eds), Animal Law: Reform or Revolution? (Schulthess 2015) 67.
Bußjäger, P, ‘Cooperation and Coordination in Austrian Federalism’ in Chattopadhyay, R, and Nerenberg, K, (eds), Dialogues on Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems (Forum of Federations 2010) 16.
Erk, J, ‘Austria: A Federation without Federalism’ (2004) 34.1 Publius: The Journal of Federalism 1.
Global Animal Law, ‘Animal Laws at National Level—Austria’, available at https://www.globalanimallaw.org/database/national/austria/ (22 November 2016).
Hausmaninger, H, The Austrian Legal System (4th edn Manzsche Verlags- and Universitätsbuchhandlung GmbH 2011).
Karlhofer, F, and Pallaver G, ‘Strength through Weakness: State Executive Power and Federal Reform in Austria’ (2013) 19.1 Swiss Political Science Review 41.
Lennkh, S, ‘The Animal: A Subject of Law? A Reflection on Aspects of the Austrian and German Judicial Systems’ (2011) 24 International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 307.
“All have the right to an ecologically balanced environment, which is an asset of common use and essential to a healthy quality of life, and both the Government and the community shall have the duty to defend and preserve it for present and future generations.
Paragraph 1. In order to ensure the effectiveness of this right, it is incumbent upon the Government to:
VII – protect the fauna and the flora, with prohibition, in the manner prescribed by law, of all practices which represent a risk to their ecological function, cause the extinction of species or subject animals to cruelty.”
Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil: 5 October 1988 (as Amended to 11 April 2008) Title VIII The Social Order, Chapter VI The Environment, Art. 225(1)(VII)
Cassuto, DN, and Eckhardt, C, ‘Don’t Be Cruel (Anymore): A Look at the Animal Cruelty Regimes of the United States and Brazil with a Call for a New Animal Welfare Agency’ (2016) 43.1 Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 1.
Cassuto, DN, and Saville, S, ‘Hot, Crowded, and Legal: A Look at Industrial Agriculture in the United States and Brazil’ (2012) 18 Journal of Animal Law 185.
Raworth, P, ‘The Federative Republic of Brazil: National Territories: Introductory Note’ in Raworth, P, (ed.), Oxford Constitutions of the World (OUP 2006) OCW CM 321.
Rosenn, KS, ‘Procedural Protection of Constitutional Rights in Brazil’ (2011) 59 American Journal of Comparative Law 1009.
Silva, TTDA, ‘Brazilian Animal Law Overview: Balancing Human and Non-Human Interests’ (2010) 6 Journal of Animal Law 81.
“The state shall protect its seas, shores, lakes, waterways, and natural reserves. Trespassing, polluting, or misusing any of them is prohibited. Every citizen has the guaranteed right to enjoy them. The state will provide for the protection and development of green space in urban areas; the preservation of plant, livestock, and fish resources; the protection of endangered species; and the kind treatment of animals (al-rifq bil-hayawan), all according to law.”
Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt: 18 January 2014, Part 2 Foundations of Society, Chapter 2 Economic Foundations, Art. 45
Makhluf, HM, Al-Rifq Bil-Hayawan Fi Din al-Islam (al-Matba’at al-Madani 1964).
Stilt, K, ‘Constitutional Innovation and Animal Protection in Egypt’ Law and Social Inquiry (forthcoming 2017).
World Animal Protection, ‘Animal Protection Index’, available at http://api.worldanimalprotection.org/ (15 February 2017).
“In formulating and implementing the Union’s agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage.”
Art. 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
Case C-219/07 National Raad van Dierenkwekers en Liefhebbers VZW and Andibel VZW v Belgische Staat (19 June 2008)
Original Case Text
Case C–5/94 The Queen v Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ex parte Hedley Lomas (Ireland) Ltd (23 May 1996)
Original Case Text
Barnard, C, The Substantive Law of the EU: The Four Freedoms (4th edn OUP 2013).
Blattner, CE, ‘Global Animal Law: Hope Beyond Illusion: The Potential and Potential Limits of International Law in Regulating Animal Matters’ (2015) 3 Mid-Atlantic Journal on Law And Public Policy 10.
Camm, T, and Bowles, D, ‘Animal Welfare and the Treaty of Rome—A Legal Analysis of the Protocol on Animal Welfare and Welfare Standards in the European Union’ (2000) 12.2 JEL 197.
Chalmers, D, Davies, G, and Monti, G, European Union Law: Text and Materials (3rd edn CUP 2014).
Fairhurst, J, Law of the European Union (10th edn Pearson 2014).
Ludwig, R, and O’Gorman, R, ‘A Cock and Bull Story?—Problems with the Protection of Animal Welfare in EU Law and Some Proposed Solutions’ (2008) 20.3 JEL 363.
O’Gorman, R, ‘Of Eggs and Seals and Leghold Traps: Internal and External Public Morality as a Factor in European Union Animal Welfare Legislation’ in McMahon, JA, and Cardwell, MN, (eds), Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law (Edward Elgar 2015) 323.
Ryland, D, ‘Advancing Animal Welfare: State, Society and Economy’ in Modrzewski, AF, (ed.), Democratic and Social State under the Rule of Law: Society, Politics, Economy (Krakow University and the Jagiellonian University 2014).
Ryland, D, ‘Animal Welfare in the Reformed Common Agricultural Policy: Wherefore Art Thou?’ (2015) 17.1 Environmental Law Review 22.
Ryland, D, and Nurse, A, ‘Mainstreaming after Lisbon: Advancing Animal Welfare in the EU Internal Market’ (2013) 22.3 European Energy and Environmental Law Review 101.
Van Laer, T, ‘The European Court of Justice and the Justification of Trade Restrictions for the Benefit of Animal Welfare: A Change of Mind?’ (2011) 1 Environmental Law Network International Review 36.
Vesilind, PA, ‘Continental Drift: Agricultural Trade and the Widening Gap Between European Union and United States Animal Welfare Laws’ (2011) 12 Vermont Journal Environmenatal Law 223.
Wartenberg, M, ‘Art. 13 Lisbon Treaty/TFEU—Historical, Constitutional And Legal Aspects’ in Favre, D and Giménez-Candela, T, (eds), Animales y Derecho / Animals and the Law (Tirant 2015) 353.
“Mindful also of its responsibility toward future generations, the state shall protect the natural foundations of life and animals by legislation and, in accordance with law and justice, by executive and judicial action, all within the framework of the constitutional order.”
Basic Law of the Republic of Germany, Part. II, Art. 20a
Evans, E, ‘Constitutional Inclusion of Animal Rights in Germany and Switzerland: How Did Animal Protection Become an Issue of National Importance?’ (2010) 18 Society and Animals 231.
Foster, N, and Sule, S, German Legal System and Laws (4th edn OUP 2010).
Haßmann, H, Embryonenschutz im Spannungsfeld internationaler Menschenrechte, staatlicher Grundrechte und nationaler Reglungsmodelle zur Embryonenforschung (Springer 2003).
Haupt, CE, ‘Free Exercise of Religion and Animal Protection: A Comparative Perspective on Ritual Slatughter’ (2007) 39 GWashIntlLRev 839.
Haupt, CE, ‘The Nature and Effects of Constitutional State Objectives: Assessing the German Basic Law’s Animal Protection Clause’ (2010) 16 Journal of Animal Law 213.
Haupt, CE, ‘Who Let the Dangerous Dogs Out? The German State’s Hasty Legislative Action, the Federal Law on Dangerous Dogs and the ‘Kampfhunde’ Decision of the Federal Constitutional Court’ (2006) 2 Journal of Animal Law 27.
Langenfeld, C, ‘Developments: Germany’ (2003) 1 ICON 141.
Michel, M, ‘Law and Animals: An Introduction to Current European Animal Protection Legislation’ in Peters, A, Stucki, S, and Boscardin, L, (eds), Animal Law: Reform or Revolution? (Schulthess 2015) 87.
Nattrass, KM, ‘‘Und die Tiere’ Constitutional Protection for Germany’s Animals’ (2004) 10 Journal of Animal Law 283.
Smith, D, ‘‘Cruelty of the Worst Kind’: Religious Slaughter, Xenophobia, and the German Greens’ (2007) 40 Central European History 89.
Stucki, S, ‘Die Nutzung kommt vor dem Schutz’ (2016) 3 Rechts Wissenschaft 521.
“Art. 51A (g) of the Constitution of the Republic of India:
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;”
TN Godavarman v Union of India (2012) 3 SCC 277
Original Case Text
Austin, G, Working a Democratic Constitution: A History of the Indian Experience (OUP 1999).
Jacobsohn, GJ, ‘An Unconstitutional Constitution: A Comparative Perspective’ (2006) 4.3 ICON 460. Jaswal, N, ‘Fundamental Duties’ in Katz, SN, (ed.), Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History (OUP 2009).
Madan, TN, ‘Wither Indian Secularism’ (1993) 27.3 Modern Asian Studies 667.
Venugopal, V, ‘Jallikattu Villages Say Only a Party that Respects Tamil Sentiment Will Be Voted to Power’ (3 May 2016) The Times of India: Economic Times.
“L’Etat garantit la protection de l’environnement humain et naturel, en œuvrant à l’établissement d’un équilibre durable entre la conservation de la nature, en particulier sa capacité de renouvellement, et la satisfaction des besoins des générations présentes et futures.
Il promeut la protection et le bien-être des animaux”.
The Constitution of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Chapter 2, art. 11bis
No official translation available. Here is our translation:
“The State guarantees the conservation of human and natural environment, by aiming at a sustainable balance between environmental conservation, especially the environment’s ability to renew itself, and the satisfaction of the needs of present and future generations.
The State promotes animal protection and animal welfare.”
Besch, M, and Mores, P, Projet de révision no 3923B: Quatrième avis complémentaire du Conseil D’Etat (Chambre des Députes 2006).
Besch, M, and Mores, P, Projet de révision no 3923C: Cinquième avis complémentaire du Conseil D’Etat (Chambre des Députes 2006).
Etgen, F, ‘Projet de Loi No 6994: Ayant pour Objet D’Assurer la Dignité, la Protection de la Vie, la Sécurité et le Bien-être des Animaux’ (2016) Government.lu.
Gerkrath, J, ‘Constitutional Amendment in Luxembourg’ in Contiades, X, Engineering Constitutional Change: A Comparative Perspective on Europe, Canada and the USA (Routledge 2013) 229.
Grote, R, ‘The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: Introductory Note’ in Oxford Constitutions of the World (OUP 2010), available at http://oxcon.ouplaw.com/home/OCW (16 February 2017).
Meyers, PH, Proposition de Loi No 3923C: Rapport de la Commission Des Institutions et de la Revision Constitutionnelle (Chambre des Deputes 2006).
Raum-Degrève, R, and Sunnen, M, ‘L’Expérience Luxembourgeoise’ in Larmuseau, I, (ed.), Constitutional Rights to an Ecologically Balanced Environment (Vlaamse Vereniging voor Omgevingsrecht 2007) 38.
Rippinger, JP, Proposition de Revision No 4990 (Chambre des Deputes 2004). Rosenn, KS, ‘Procedural Protection of Constitutional Rights in Brazil’ (2011) 59 American Journal of Comparative Law 1009.
Wagener, R, Proposition de Revision No 4990 (Chambre des Deputes 2002).
Weiler, L, Projet de Revision No 3923B: Depeche du President de la Chambre des Deputes au President du Conseil D’Etat (Chambre des Deputes 2004).
Weiler, L, Proposition de Revision No 3923C: Depeche du President de la Chambre des Deputes au President du Conseil D’Etat (Chambre des Deputes 2006).
“Article 72 (Healthy Living Environment)
Everyone has the right in accordance with the law to a healthy living environment. The state shall promote a healthy living environment. To this end, the conditions and manner in which economic and other activities are pursued shall be established by law.
The law shall establish under which conditions and to what extent a person who has damaged the living environment is obliged to provide compensation.
The protection of animals from cruelty shall be regulated by law.”
Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia: 23 December 1991 (as Amended to 27 February 2003) Part III Economic and Social Relations, Art. 72
Case No U-I-315/04 (9 September 2004) CC
Original Case Text
Brecelj, A, ‘The Example of Slovenia’ in Ethical Eye – Animal Welfare (Council of Europe 2006) 199.
Krstić, N, ‘Animal Protection from Killing and Abuse in the European and Serbian Criminal Law’ (2012) 10.1 Facta Universitatas—Law and Politics 43.
Novak, A, e-mail correspondence on file with authors (2016).
Ramet, SP, ‘Slovenia’s Road to Democracy’ (1993) 45.5 Europe-Asia Studies 869.
Škrk, M, ‘Case Law of the Constitutional Court of Slovenia and the Protection of the Environment’ (2012) 4 DANUBE Las and Economics Review 31.
“The Confederation shall legislate on the use of reproductive and genetic material from animals, plants and other organisms. In doing so, it shall take account of the dignity of living beings as well as the safety of human beings, animals and the environment, and shall protect the genetic diversity of animal and plant species.”
Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation: 18 April 1999 (as Amended to 15 March 2012), Title 3 Confederation, Cantons and Communes, Chapter 2 Powers, Section 8 Housing, Employment, Social Security and Health, Art 120(2) (formerly art. 24novies)
X und Y gegen Gesundheitsdirektion des Kantons Zürich und Mitarbeiter (7 October 2009) BGE 135 II 384 & 135 II 405
Bergeaud-Blackler, F, ‘New Challenges for Islamic Ritual Slaughter: A European Perspective’ (2007) 33.6 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 965.
Bolliger, G, ‘Legal Protection of Animal Dignity in Switzerland: Status Quo and Future Perspectives’ (2016) 22 Animal Law 311.
Dolezal, M, Helbling M, and Hutter, S, ‘Debating Islamin Austria, Germany and Switzerland: Ethnic Citizenship, Church–State Relations and Right-Wing Populism’ (2010) 33.2 West European Politics 171.
Fleiner, T, ‘Constitutional Revision: The Case of Switzerland’ in Contiades, X, Engineering Constitutional Change: A Comparative Perspective on Europe, Canada and the USA (Routledge 2013) 337.
Gerritsen, V, ‘Animal Welfare in Switzerland—Constitutional Aim, Social Commitment, and a Major Challenge’ (2013) 1 Global Journal of Animal Law 1.
Linder, W, Swiss Democracy: Possible Solutions to Conflict in Multicultural Societies (3rd edn Palgrave Macmillan 2010).
McCrudden, C, ‘Human Dignity and Judicial Interpretation of Human Rights’ (2008) 19.4 EJIL 655. Mesmer, B, ‘The Banning of Jewish Ritual Slaughter in Switzerland’ (2007) 52 Leo Baeck Year Book 185.
Michel, M, and Kayasseh, ES, ‘The Legal Situation of Animals in Switzerland: Two Steps forward, One Step back—Many Steps to Go’ (2011) 7 Journal of Animal Law 1.
Schmitt, N, ‘Swiss Confederation’ in Kincaid, J, and Tarr, GA, (eds), Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries (McGill-Queen’s University Press 2005).
Vining, J, ‘Dignity as Perception: The Recognition of the Human Individual and the Individual Animal in Legal Thought’ in McCrudden, C, (ed.), Understanding Human Dignity (British Academy 2015) 192.
Weber, H, ‘Democratic Expression of Public Opinion on Animal Experimentation’ (1986) 15 Journal Medical Primatology 379.