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Animal rights and the rights of nature


Steve Spinks
4 October 2012

What is the relationship between animal rights and the rights of nature? Are animal rights a subset of the rights of nature or are they separate and distinct? How do these rights based visions of animals and nature accord with indigenous world views?

These questions and others will be explored at the ‘Animal Rights and the Rights of Nature’ symposium to be hosted by the Southern Cross University School of Law and Justice’s Earth Laws Network at its Gold Coast campus on October 6.

The afternoon will include facilitated workshops to explore the tensions and commonalities between animal rights and the rights of nature through four themes of contemporary significance: consumption, food, conservation, and tourism and travel.

Guest speakers at the symposium include lawyer and best-selling author of Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice, Cormac Cullinan; Aboriginal activist and co-founder of the first Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972, Michael Anderson; and animal rights activist, theorist and Southern Cross University Adjunct Fellow, Anne Schillmoller.

Speaking on behalf of the Earth Laws Network, law academic Dr Alessandro Pelizzon explained that, since being proposed by Henry Salt in 1892, animal rights have been treated as a separate and distinct legal and ethical problem. More recently, however, they have been included within a broader discussion of the rights of nature, or Earth Jurisprudence. This refers to an emerging legal theory, associated with the name of Christopher Stone who advanced the idea, in 1972, that natural, non-human entities should be granted legal standing to protect non-human rights.

“The forum follows increasing academic and social interest in the role of law in enabling practical interventions informed by eco-centric sensibilities. The guest speakers are well-known and inspiring leaders in their fields. We expect their presentations will be both enlightening and entertaining”, Dr Pelizzon said.

The symposium is open to the public and is a free event. To register or find out more information, contact the School of Law and Justice at [email protected]

Photo: Cormac Cullinan.