Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law Logo Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

You are here: Research Research Areas Public International Law Global Animal Law

Global Animal Law

Head of Section:

Anne Peters

Video Anne Peters about her research area Global Animal Law

About the Project:

The overarching research objective is to shed light on a discrete branch of international law: global animal law (GAL). The starting hypothesis is that contemporary animal law must also be global (i.e. both transboundary and multi-level) in order to be effective. In times of globalization, basically all aspects of (commodified) human−animal interactions (ranging from food production and distribution over working animals, uses in research, to breeding and keeping of pets) possess a transboundary dimension. Animal welfare has become a global good which requires global regulation.
Many aspects of the factual and legal situation of animals depend on climate and ecology, and in turn impact on those. Also, human’s attitudes towards animals are influenced by habits, religion, the wealth of a society, its state of industrialization, and other cultural factors. For these reasons, any global regulation of animals needs to take into account and must be linked to international economic environmental law, international human rights law, the law of development, and should generally be sensitive to north−south relations. Attention also needs to be paid to consequences for animal welfare of legal obligations to liberalize markets.
The research will contribute to the historical and conceptual groundwork and to the practical development of GAL by furnishing appropriate legal arguments and concepts, and should stimulate law reform by identifying legal gaps. To that end, the dispersed international (universal and regional, notably European) norms (hard and soft) on animal welfare must first be identified, mapped, and analyzed. Second, international and European law suits (before the ECJ, the ECHR, the ICJ, the WTO Dispute Settlement Bodies, etc.) and legal reform projects in the entire field are commented and criticized.
While international norms on animal welfare (as opposed to species protection) are currently not in place, the Council of Europe and the European Union have increasingly adopted legal norms on animal welfare, mostly in the agricultural context. Moreover, the European Court of Human Rights is developing case law on the interface between human rights and animal law. The regional body of law therefore invites study with a view to suggestions for the universalization of pertinent norms.
Methods: Research in GAL is usually interdisciplinary to the extent that it must draw on core findings of philosophy (ethics), biology (zoology), anthropology (human-animal studies), history, cultural studies, economics, and other disciplines. Research is often comparative and not limited to international law proper, because the relevant body of international law is very thin. The research thus involves both “horizontal” comparisons (among different national legal regimes) and “vertical” legal comparisons (among national, European, and international legal regimes).
Specific topics of study, inter alia, concern the structure of international rights for animals in comparison to human rights, the admissibility of extraterritorial animal protection laws, the conflict between free trade and animal protection, cultural relativism in animal law, conflicts between animal protection and human rights (freedom of research; freedom of religion, right to (animal) food), synergies between animal protection and human rights (such as the right to privacy, right to a healthy environment, right to (plant-based) food), food and distributive justice, and others.

Animals in the International Law of Armed Conflicts

In times of war, the first instinct is to relieve the suffering of human beings. Environmental and animal interests are always pushed into the background. However, warfare also strongly affects natural resources, including animals, which makes wildlife issues a matter of great concern. Habitat destruction and the resulting disappearance of animals often threaten the survival of populations affected by hostilities.

‘Over the last 50 years, certain species have been vanishing at a very high rate because of wars, with often disastrous effects on the food chain and on the balance of nature. Indeed, as recently emphasized by a report published in the Journal Conservation Biology, during this period, 80 per cent of armed conflicts have taken place in countries – such as Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda or Vietnam – that contain areas of high global species diversities’ underlines Jérôme de Hemptinne.

Being deeply anthropocentric, international humanitarian law (IHL) largely ignores questions relating to the protection of animals during armed conflicts. This research project precisely aims at filling this gap by producing a book on this issue. On 11 and 26 June 2020 two online author workshops will take place.


Jérôme de Hemptinne (Geneva Academy)

Staff Member(s):

Saskia Stucki

Cooperation partners

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Master's Degree in Animal Law and Society,

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights,

EuroGroup for Animal Law Studies (EGALS)

University of Basel, Law school, doctoral programme “Law and Animals”

"Brauchen Tiere Rechte?", interview at WDR broadcast "Tiere suchen ein Zuhause", 24 March 2019
Anne Peters and PETA present legal opinion on extending the duration of unanaesthetized piglet castration in Berlin, 14 March 2019.

 Anne Peters mentioned in: Carole Koch und Samuel Misteli, "Pioniere im Stall", NZZ Folio 7/2016, 38.

Anne Peters mentioned in: Pinzler Petra, "Ein deutsches Tierleben", Die Zeit No. 21 of 15 May 2014, 36.

“Brauchen Rind und Robbe eigene Rechte?“, Interview about the complicated relationship between man and animal, Basler Zeitung of 10 April 2014, 23.

Talks and Transfer of Knowledge

22 June 2020: Anne Peters, “Covid-19 shows the need for a Global Animal Law”, Opening Keynote Address at the webinar series “Coronavirus and Animals: The Human-Animal Relationship in Pandemic Society” of the International Center for Animal Law and Policy, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

8 August 2019: Anne Peters as an expert in the habeas corpus proceeding for the Andean bear Chucho at the hearing of the Colombian Constitutional Court.

Link to the video

(Contribution Anne Peters at 3:43:49)

20 February 2019: Anne Peters, "Biodiversity and animal rights: irreconcilable paradigms?", presentation at the 5th event of the lecture and discussion series: "Fundamental Research and Shaping the Future" of the Scientific Council of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science: "Biodiversity: Ecological and Legal Fundamental Research in Exchange." in Berlin

4 October 2017: Anne Peters, "Global Animal Law: The Emergence Of A New Legal Field", presentation at the Ann Arbor University of Michigan Law School, Hutchins Hall 218.

27 July 2017: Anne Peters, "Haben Tiere Rechte?", studio interview within the framework of the series "radioWissen" of the radio station Bayern 2.


16 January 2017: Anne Peters "Tierethik in der Grundlagenforschung", panel discussion at the headquarters of the Max Planck Society, Munich.

Link to the entire discussion

Link to the short version

19 January 2016: Anne Peters, "Globales Tierrecht und die Internationalisierung der Rechtsordnung", Inaugural Lecture at the Department of Law at the Freie Universität Berlin.

10 November 2015: Anne Peters, "Globales Tierrecht: Aktuelle Kontroversen", School of Humanities at the University of Mannheim.

4-5 April 2014: First Annual European Animal Law Conference, "The Animal Turn and the Law", Law faculty of the University of Basel, Switzerland.


  • Peters, Anne: Religious Slaughter and Animal Welfare Revisited: CJEU, Liga van Moskeeën en islamitische Organisaties Provincie (2018). In: Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law 5, 269-297 (2019).
  • Peters, Anne: Die Rechtsstellung von Tieren – Status Quo und Weiterentwicklung . In: Haben Tiere Rechte? – Aspekte und Dimensionen der Mensch-Tier-Beziehung. Schriftenreihe Bd. 10450. Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, Bonn 2019, 122-134.
  • Peters, Anne: Between Trade and Torture: Animals in EU law. In: Zeitschrift für europarechtliche Studien 2, 173-196 (2019).
  • Peters, Anne: Rights of Human and Nonhuman Animals: Complementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In: American Journal of International Law Unbound 112, 355-360 (2018). doi: 10.1017/aju.2018.84.
  • Peters, Anne: Animals Matter in International Law and International Law Matters for Animals, Introduction to Symposium on Global Animal Law (Part I). AJIL Unbound, 18 September 2017. Peters_Intro_Gobal.Animal.Law_I+II (PDF, 125.4 KB)
  • Peters, Anne, Saskia Stucki: Globales Tierrecht. In: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft Jahrbuch 2017 (2017). doi: 10.17617/1.3K.
  • Peters, Anne: Tierwohl als globales Gut: Regulierungsbedarf und -chancen. MPIL Research Paper Series No. 2016-03, 2016. Tierwohl als globales Gut
  • Peters, Anne: Vom Tierschutzrecht zu Legal Animal Studies: Forschungsdesiderate und -perspektiven. In: Rechtswissenschaft Themenheft: Tiere und Recht 7, 325-337 (2016).
  • Peters, Anne: Tierwohl als globales Gut: Regulierungsbedarf und -chancen. In: Rechtswissenschaft: Tiere und Recht 7, 363-387 (2016).
  • Peters, Anne (Mitherausgeberin): Rechtswissenschaft Themenheft: Tiere und Recht. Nomos, Baden-Baden, 2016..
  • Peters, Anne: Global Animal Law: What it is and why we need it. In: Transnational Environmental Law 5, 9-23 (2016). Global Animal Law: What it is and why we need it (PDF, 281.3 KB)
  • Peters, Anne: Liberté, Égalité, Animalité: Human-Animal Comparisons in Law. In: Transnational Environmental Law 5, 25-53 (2016).
  • This article problematizes the discrepancy between the wealth of international law serving human needs and rights and the international regulatory deficit concerning animal welfare and animal rights. It suggests that, in the face of scientific evidence, the legal human–animal boundary (as manifest notably in the denial of rights to animals) needs to be properly justified. Unmasking the (to some extent) ‘imagined’ nature of the human–animal boundary, and shedding light on the persistence of human–animal comparisons for pernicious and beneficial purposes of the law, can offer inspirations for legal reform in the field of animal welfare and even animal rights.

  • Peters, Anne: Tiere im Recht. In: Emma Nr. 4 (327), 86-89 (July/August 2016). Tiere im Recht (PDF, 3814.6 KB)
  • Peters, Anne, Saskia Stucki, Livia Boscardin (eds.): Animal Law: Reform or Revolution? Schulthess, Zürich, 2015.

    Reviewed by:

  • Peters, Anne: Animal Law – A Paradigm Change. In: Animal Law: Reform or Revolution?, Anne Peters, Saskia Stucki, Livia Boscardin (eds.). Schulthess, Zürich 2015, 15-32.
  • Peters, Anne: Liberté, égalité, animalité. In: Kulturstiftung des Bundes Magazin 23 , 12-15 (2014). Liberté, égalité, animalité (PDF, 4833.7 KB)
  • Peters, Anne, Saskia Stucki, Livia Boscardin: The Animal Turn - What is it and Why Now?, 14 April 2014, The Animal Turn- What is it and Why Now?
  • Peters, Anne, Saskia Stucki: Vorschläge für eine tierfreundliche, verfassungskonforme und richtliniengetreue Umsetzung der EU-Tierversuchsrichtlinie in Deutschland. Schulthess, Zürich, 2014.


Summer Term

Blockseminar: Aktuelle Fragen des Tierrechts

University of Heidelberg and FU Berlin

Announcement Heidelberg Seminar "Tierrecht" (PDF, 231.7 KB)

Winter term 2019/2020

Visiting Professorship, Seminar: Global Animal Law

The University of Michigan Law School, 24 September - 10 October 2019

Winter term 2018/2019

Lecture: International Law and Animals

The Hague Academy of International Law, 14 - 18 January 2019

Programme Winter Courses 2019 (PDF, 323.3 KB)

Winter term 2017/2018

Master in Animal Law and Society, Lecture: Global Animal Law: Cases and Controversies

Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, 23 - 25 January 2018

Winter term 2017/2018

Visiting Professorship, Seminar: Global Animal Law

The University of Michigan Law School, 18 September - 6 October 2017

Summer term 2017

Master in Animal Law and Society, Lecture: Global Animal Law: Cases and Controversies

Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, 14 - 16 June 2017

Summer term 2016

Kolloquium: Internationales Umwelt- und Tierrecht

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, 31 May and 1 June 2016, 10 am - 6 pm

Summer term 2016

Master in Animal Law and Society, Lecture: Global Animal Law: Cases and Controversies

Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, 21 - 23 April 2016

Summer term 2015

Master in Animal Law and Society, Lecture: Global Animal Law: Cases and Controversies

Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, 23 - 24 April 2015

Winter term 2014/2015

Interdisziplinäres Blockseminar zur Theorie der Mensch-Tierbeziehung (Anne Peters, MPI Heidelberg, and Bernd Ladwig, FU Berlin)

Berlin, 17 October 2014, 29 November 2014 and 6/7 February 2015, 10 am - 6 pm

Winter term 2013/2014

Master in Animal Law and Society, Lecture: Global Animal Law: Cases and Controversies

Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, 9 - 10 January 2014