The Animal & Law Chair was established on 1 October 2018 thanks to private funding. Consult the University Fund web page for more information about private research funding.
The chair is associated with the Personal Rights and Property Rights research group. The chairholder is Prof. Dr. Frederik Swennen and the academic coordinator is Dr. Johan Van de Voorde.
The objective of the chair is twofold:
- to develop animal dignity as a legal principle against which human actions and failings in relation to animals can be judged; and
- to encourage societal debate from a scientific perspective to raise awareness of the concept of animal dignity.
The chair's main activity is to prepare a PhD in Law in the form of a thesis or a series of articles, which is done by dra. Eva Bernet Kempers. Both an ethical and a comparative perspective will be taken in order to arrive at the principle of animal dignity. What moral obligations do we have in our treatment of animals? How and to what extent must we translate these moral obligations into law? And should we achieve this by considering animals as having rights, or at least as sentient beings? Or by imposing special (unilateral) obligations on humans when it comes to animal welfare? Should animal dignity be anchored in the Constitution and/or in animal welfare legislation? Who can enforce these rights and obligations?
The chair will also organise an interfaculty lecture series on animal in the law in order to bring together internal expertise and to arouse students’ interest.
Finally, the chair will share its expertise with other universities in the form of activities for broader scientific and non-scientific audiences, such as debates and training activities.