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Global Animal Law

Head of Section:

Anne Peters

Video Anne Peters about her research area Global Animal Law

About the Project:

A globalised problem requires a global solution: Contemporary animal law suffers from a mismatch between almost exclusively national legislation on the one hand, and the global dimension of the problems in need of regulation on the other hand. While attention to animal law within individual jurisdictions is on the rise, states can no longer effectively regulate animals unilaterally. The much-decried governance gap arising from globalisation also concerns animals. The imperative of global (as opposed to purely national) regulation and legal analysis, of a global animal law, arises from the fact that virtually all aspects of (commodified) human−animal interactions (ranging from food production and distribution, working animals, animal use in research, to breeding and keeping of pets) possess a transboundary dimension. Legal rules on animals, their status, their welfare and potentially rights can be effective only if they are enacted both on the domestic and on the international level, and in the form of state or inter-state regulation and non-state standards.
Global Animal Law as a new analytical lens and legal field: A new legal field of Global Animal Law is emerging out of a range of subfields, including, for example, human rights law, trade law, food and agricultural law, health law, and environmental law, each in their transnational and international dimensions.
Global Animal Law is an umbrella term that allows researchers to grasp the complex nature and characteristics of the pertinent legal issues, and thus to better analyse, criticise, and advance the legal regimes governing animals globally. Generally speaking, ‘global’ law is a regulatory mix combining a host of different types of norms. Besides the various ‘levels’ of national, international, supranational, and regional or sub-state law, the regulatory network consists of norms made by states and by private actors, thus including standards emerging from industries, often in collaboration with governmental agencies. Finally, it includes both hard and soft law, ranging from codes and international conventions to declarations sponsored by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which often act transnationally. Global Animal Law also includes topics currently addressed only in national law.
Speaking in terms of Global Animal Law conveys the message that animal law can be best understood, applied, and analysed when legal practitioners and scholars have an eye simultaneously on the various ‘levels’ of the law, and on various norm types. The corpus of domestic, international, and local law, of state-made and privately generated, and of hard and soft law related to the treatment and welfare of animals has reached a critical mass justifying summing it up as a cross-cutting matter or as a legal field of its own, under the overarching heading of Global Animal Law.

Oxford Handbook of Global Animal Law

The Handbook intends to be a comprehensive reference work that authoritatively establishes the new field of Global Animal Law, maps it, identifies relevant legal issues, and forms a platform for further legal research.

The Handbook will address foundational as well as cutting-edge issues of Global Animal Law. It will also identify and analyse key principles, concepts, and actors shaping this field. It shows the impact of other disciplines and different intellectual paradigms on the formation and on our understanding of Global Animal Law. Finally, country reports, religion reports, snapshots on critical topics, and case notes provide succinct information on salient and current issues and problems.

Oxford Handbook of Global Animal Law

Animals in International Law (Hague Lecture 2019)

The plight of animal individuals and species inflicted on them by human activity is a global problem with detrimental repercussions for all humans and for the entire planet (Chap. I). The book gives an overview of the most important international legal regimes which directly address animals (Chap. II). It canvasses species conservation treaties such as the International Whaling Regime (Chap. III) and analyses the animal protection rules of the EU (Chap. IV). The book also analyses the chilling effects of international trade law on national and EU animal welfare measures and the possibilities for using the exceptions to trade liberalisation obligations and the new generation of trade agreements for frontrunner states’ animal friendly regulations (Chap. V). The current international law of armed conflict neglects the horrible effects of warfare on the various groups of animals, both wild and domesticated and suggests legal strategies for protecting animals in wartimes (Chap VI). Chapter VII discusses how fundamental rights for animals would fit into the fabric of international law and which practical and symbolical benefits for animals such a codification would convey.
Chapter VIII recapitulates that public international law creates more harm than good for animals and suggests legal strategies, including progressive treaty interpretation, treaty-making, and animal interest representation, for closing the animal welfare gap in international law. A body of global animal law needs to be developed, accompanied by critical global animal studies.

Anne Peters, Animals in International Law, Collected Courses of The Hague Academy of International Law, Recueil des Cours Vol. 410 (Leiden: Brill 2020), 95-544 (Livre de poche forthcoming 2021).

Animals in the International Law of Armed Conflicts

The impact of war on wildlife is largely underestimated. Wildlife populations remain the unknown victims of armed conflicts throughout the world.
Moreover, belligerents take advantage of the chaos raised by war in order to poach protected species and to engage in the trafficking of expensive animal products. While generating billions of dollars each year – which are, in part, invested in warfare and the acquisition of weapons – such poaching and trafficking fuels a cycle of violence and ultimately threatens peace and security in the concerned areas.
On a different front, certain armed forces have trained, and continue to train, some animals – principally marine mammals such as bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions – to perform military tasks, like ship and harbour protection, or mine detection and clearance. They also use animal as tools in military research and experiments. Millions of horses, mules, donkeys, camels, dogs and birds serve in various other ways – either as means of medical transport, search and rescue or as tools of communication and logistics – thereby becoming particularly vulnerable targets.
The silence of international humanitarian law raises significant questions: Are animals not legally protected in times of war? Or should they be treated as objects and thus ruled by the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution? To which animals should these principles apply? Do these principles apply differently to ‘living creatures’ rather than ‘inanimate objects’? Could animals be treated as specially protected objects that receive additional protection by IHL norms? Or could animals even be regarded as part of the civilian population itself? In the affirmative, how do these legal regimes reinforce their protection? When used for military purposes, could animals be targeted by the adversary? If yes, when and under which conditions and principles? How could the prohibition of unnecessary suffering or the Martens clause play out? In the case of unjustified attacks against protected species, what sanctions could be imposed? Are these sanctions enough? Should the poaching and trafficking of endangered species during armed conflicts be qualified as war crimes or as crimes against humanity?
More fundamentally, the protection of animals must be examined in light of the fact that the dividing line between humans and animals has been significantly eroded on biological and ethical grounds over the last decades. Consequently, could it be envisaged that humans and animals be both protected in a similar manner against superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering? Should domestic laws that prohibit and punish cruelty to animals influence their treatment under IHL? Would conferring some ‘rights’ and/or ‘legal personality’ to animals – as opposed to merely protecting them and imposing duties upon belligerents – strengthen their protection in the context of IHL? In that case, which animals deserve ‘legal personality’ and/or ‘rights’ and what types of rights should be granted to them?
Animals seem to be collectively protected by the general legal framework applicable to the preservation of the environment. But how should this regime apply to them concretely during warfare? What is the scope for the application during hostilities of several existing international treaties that protect the environment? The collective research project tackles those and further questions.

Research Project


Anne Peters/Robert Kolb/Jérôme de Hemptinne (eds), Animals in the International Law of Armed Conflict (Cambridge: CUP 2021).

The book creates an inventory of the international legal framework available for the protection of animals in armed conflicts when considered as ‘objects’, ‘specially protected objects’, ‘part of the natural environment’, ‘endangered species’, ‘weapons of war’, and ‘means of medical transport, search and rescue.’ The book also examine whether this legal framework is adequate in specific situations – in occupied territories, protected zones, sea warfare, and disaster situations – or in specific circumstances, when animals are used as tools in medical experiments. Guidelines are proposed in order to reinforce these regimes. Finally, the book evaluates to what extent the enforcement of the current legal framework adequately protects animals in terms of the repression of illegal conduct, reparation and rehabilitation. A special emphasis is put on the regime established for wildlife trafficking and on the enforcement powers of the United Nations Security Council in this regard. Guidelines aiming at strengthening such enforcement regimes are also envisaged.
The book chapters are written by specialists in the fields of public international law, IHL, international criminal law and animal law.


Jérôme de Hemptinne (Geneva Academy)

Staff Member(s):

Saskia Stucki

Cooperation partners

Animal Law & Policy Program, Harvard Law School

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

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights,

„Zwei Worte, ein Inhalt? Warum Tierschutz kein Artenschutz sein muss“, interview within the series „Mensch und Tier“ of the radio station hr-iNFO, 22 May 2021.
"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.

Talks and Transfer of Knowledge

16.04.2021: Les animaux dans le droit international

Seminar, HeidParisMax

Information about the Event



28.10.2020: Global Rights. Animal Rights.

Keynote Lecture, Max Planck Law Annual Conference (online)


About the Event
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


  • Peters, Anne(ed.): Studies in Global Animal Law. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, 2020. doi: 10.1007/9783662607565
  • Book Review: Peters, Anne, Ley, Hendrik Stephan: Das Instrument der Tierschutz-Verbandsklage: Hintergründe, theoretische Grundlage und praktische Umsetzung, Berlin, 2018. In: Die Verwaltung, 52, 459-461, 2019.
  • 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, Saskia Stucki, Livia Boscardin (eds.): Animal Law: Reform or Revolution? Schulthess, Zürich, 2015.

    Reviewed by:

    Peters, Anne, Saskia Stucki: Vorschläge für eine tierfreundliche, verfassungskonforme und richtliniengetreue Umsetzung der EU-Tierversuchsrichtlinie in Deutschland. Schulthess, Zürich, 2014.


Winter term 2020/21

Max Planck Law Class: Global Animal Law

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Zoom, 28. Januar 2021

Summer Term 2020

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