International Animal Rights Day

"Smiling Macaca fascicularis, Crab-eating macaque - Tarutao National Marine Park" by Rushen! is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
December 10, 2020Lu Shegay

On this day in 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and several years ago some individuals and organizations demanded that this day should also be celebrated as International Animal Rights Day due to animals also being sentient and capable of feeling emotions. This day is dedicated to reminding of the importance to take into consideration animals’ interests and providing them with freedom, justice, and dignity independent of their species.

What is "animal rights"?

The idea of animal rights arose from the necessity to provide animals with basic rights, such as a right to freedom, and to consider their most basic interests, such as no pain and suffering. Some cultural backgrounds, such as Jainism, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and Animism, dedicate part of their beliefs to animal rights.

The field of animal law now is being arisen in some law schools where it is taught about granting basic legal rights and personhood to non-human animals. Some argue that animals are not capable of entering into a social contract, thus cannot hold any rights, while others argue that as long as animals do not suffer, they can be regarded and used as resources. Although the latter means to grant moral standing to animals, it still means that humans remain superior to animals.

Animal rights concept represents the idea of no experimenting on animals; no breeding and killing animals for human’s use, such as clothes, food, medicine; no exploitation of animals; no hunting; no use of animals in entertainment; and no selective breeding for any reason other than the benefit of animals.

Animal rights supporters believe that animals have their own worth and value and have a full right to live free from suffering and pain. Ingrid Newkirk, the PETA founder once said, “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife.”

Naruto, a macaque, took this self-portrait in 2011 with a camera owned by photographer David Slater. The photo has been the subject of a years-long copyright battle.
In 2017, "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced a settlement with photographer David Slater, ending a lawsuit it filed on Naruto's behalf. Under the deal, Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of future revenue from the photos to groups that protect crested macaques and their habitat in Indonesia. Both sides also asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals "to dismiss the case and throw out a lower court decision that said animals cannot own copyrights," The Associated Press reports." (Source from

Animal rights in Asia

In Asia, animal rights belief has begun a long time ago seeding its roots in traditional Eastern religious and philosophical concept ahimsa, which is the doctrine of non-violence. In 304-232 BCE, in India, several kings issued orders against slaughtering and hunting animals. In 675, in Japan, one of the emperors banned killing and eating meat during the period of April-September, the busiest farming period, but wild birds and animals were exempted from that rule.

In the modern era, the High Court in Kerala, India, in 2000, while using the term "rights" referred to animals used in circuses concluding that these animals are "beings entitled to dignified existence" in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Its Constitution also provides that "all living beings should be shown compassion" and the court declared that "it is not only our fundamental duty to show compassion to our animal friends, but also to recognize and protect their rights." Sri Lanka used a similar language in their cases.

In 2012, India banned the use of live animals in education and research.

How to celebrate?

  • Educate your children and friends on being kind and compassionate to animals;

  • Do some research on animals being used in the production of clothes, agribusiness, and experiments and learn how animals suffer in factory farms and laboratories;

  • Write a short article to your local newspaper or school journal about the animal rights movement; and,

  • Share your acknowledgment and tribute on social media with the hashtag #InternationalAnimalRightsDay.

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