International Animal Rights Day 10 December 2017

Research undertaken by Diane Ryland, Senior Lecturer in the Law School at the University of Lincoln, is concerned with transnational animal welfare governance in agriculture with the objective of realising in effect the fact that animals are sentient beings able to feel pain and pleasure and experience comfort and distress. Increasingly, farmed animals are recognised as sentient beings with specific welfare needs, if not rights, deserving of respect and improved protection, but the extent to which animal sentience is translated into legally binding standards adequately to ensure the welfare of animals reared in lawful intensive farming practices is questioned.

Diane’s research looks at the global governance of the welfare of food producing animals. It examines the regional / transnational farm animal welfare standards of the European Union and the welfare standards emanating from the international animal welfare standard-setter, the World Organisation for Animal Health in its Terrestrial Animal Health Code concerned with the production systems for certain species of farm animal. Animal Welfare in agriculture is a complex issue in which diverse factors coincide and diverge, for example: science, values, cultures and religion, demographics, economics, politics and trade etc.

Private individual and collective farm assurance schemes have arisen alongside these public standards, with global retail chains sourcing agricultural produce to market in an extended agri-food supply chain. The potential for private standards to go beyond and fill lacunae in the public standards presents an opportunity to raise standards of farm animal welfare and bolster demand for enhanced animal welfare agricultural produce in a global value chain.

The relationship between public and private animal welfare standards is integral to Diane’s research. This interest led to her participation in Working Group 16 meetings held at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Paris, in which International Standardization Organization (ISO) Technical Specification 34700 on animal welfare management related to the food supply chain was the subject of negotiation prior to its adoption by ISO Technical Committee 34 Food Products on 1 December 2016 [General requirements and guidance for organizations in the food supply chain, 01-12-2016 [ISO/TS 34700:2016(E)]].

Diane’s research explores the implications of standardisation and proposes a framework of soft law tools of governance facilitative of raised standards of farm animal welfare, together with suggested market instruments, for example an enhanced animal welfare label, to engender increased demand for added-value agri-produce. She is researching for a PhD (Part Time) in Hybrid Animal Welfare Governance in Agriculture in the Law School at the University of Leeds, supervised by Professor Michael Cardwell, Professor of Agricultural Law.

This research, furthermore, has prompted both a nomination and shortlisting for an innovation in agriculture award, pursuant to which the education and awareness of the welfare needs of animals during their lives and the potential prospects of alleviating animal suffering through the recommendations advanced may reach a wider audience.

Visit to China by Professor French and Dr Melling

Professor Duncan French, Head of Lincoln Law School and Dr Graham Melling, Director of LLM Programmes, have recently returned from Guangzhou, southern China on a visit to a number of partner institutions. During their stay they visited the law schools of South China Normal University (SCNU) and South China University of Technology (SCUT). As well as meeting academics and students to talk about opportunities to study at Lincoln, both Professor French and Dr Melling took a range of classes on aspects of international law. Topics included the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia, the US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the legal implications of the Sustainable Development Goals.


Animal Welfare and International Law Seminar

Trophy Hunting and CITES 3

In October 2017 Lincoln Law School hosted the first annual Animal Welfare and International Law Seminar. This was presented jointly by the Regional African Law and Human Security Programme (RALHUS) at the University of the Western Cape, and Lincoln Law School’s Centre for Environmental Law and Justice, and attracted leading scholars from Europe, Australia and Africa.

The increasing recognition of the moral and legal significance of animals has given rise to scholarly discourse on the manner in which law should protect animals. The entanglement of animal interests with transnational issues such as global environmental protection, the transboundary movement of species, and the potential trade consequences of animal welfare measures in the context of comprehensive trade regimes indicate that animal welfare has implications for international law. It is particularly in the field of international wildlife law that the need exists to develop a corpus of rules that focuses on animal welfare.

The seminar sought to determine how international law, in particular international wildlife law, may respond to the increasing recognition of animal interests, and to support a broader and ongoing conversation around the creation of norms of animal welfare in international law. The Law School is already looking forward to building on the event’s success by developing our partnership with RALHUS, and further exploring the connections between animal welfare and ecological law and governance. The next Animal Welfare and International Law Seminar is due to take place in October 2018.

Dr Cooper presents at Waternet Symposium, Namibia

Nathan Oct

This week Dr Nathan Cooper is in Swakopmund, Namibia, speaking at the annual Waternet Symposium on sustainable water resources and water governance. Nathan’s paper, ‘Using SMART pumps to improve access to water in rural Gambia: Reflections on the importance of theory and fieldwork in achieving SDG 6’ draws on recent fieldwork in The Gambia, trialing ‘MANTIS’ telemetry technology to remotely monitor the performance of water pumps in rural areas.

There is significant potential for such technology to improve reliable access to water for rural communities. But the paper seeks to reflect not only on such potential, but also on the many challenges (including technological, financial, and relational) facing those involved in pioneering new water technologies, as we seek to upscale from proof of concept, towards resilient and sustainable solutions that are adequately embedded in the social, cultural, and legal context of communities, and which consequently, will assist in achieving ‘universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all’ by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goal 6).

The emergence of new telemetry technology that can remotely monitor water pumps constitutes a novel and cost-efficient alternative to undertaking regular site visits. Smart pump technology like MANTIS, has been developed specifically to monitor the performance of water pumps and to communicate this information swiftly and cheaply using SMS messages and dashboard display. Led by a UK-based company, MANTIS is being developed and applied with support from universities and NGOs, and in partnership with the Gambian government, Department of Water Resources. This represents an instructive example of the importance of partnerships in seeking to meet development objectives like improved access to water (as emphasized in Sustainable Development Goal 17) but it also illustrates some of the complexities related to working with a broad range of actors.

The paper reports on the technological progress of MANTIS to-date, as well as reflecting on what some of the partners have learned in the process of taking technology from the ‘lab’ to the ‘field’, in order to help direct and inspire similar projects in the future.

Catalan Independence: A Comment

Catalonia unilaterally declared independence without the permission of Spain. There is a long and historical debate as to when a region of a country can “secede” and become independent. I won’t enter into that history here but simply note that this situation is very different from the Scottish attempt to become independent through a referendum a few years ago. Then, the referendum was authorised by the UK Parliament and if it had been successful, the UK Parliament would have (likely) not stood in Scotland’s way to become independent.

In this case, everything Catalonia has done has been unilateral and against the express wishes of Spain; its sovereign.

In international law, the so-called principle of self-determination says all peoples have the right to self-determination but ordinarily in the case of a region within a country, that is limited to self-government. There is a debate whether if the country prevents self-government, especially through military force, it might have the right to claim independence. Despite some evidence of Spanish police force at the time of the referendum, there is nothing to substantiate this (yet).

The International Court has been very clear that declarations of independence – of themselves – are not prohibited by international law (Kosovo Advisory Opinion 2010). But whether they result in a successful independent State is another matter. That largely depends on recognition – and in this case, countries such as the US and the UK have been very quick to refuse it.

So is Catalonia a State? Well, in the absence of recognition by any other State and clearly still subject to Spanish control, it is quite difficult to see how the fourth Montevideo criteria of “capacity to enter into legal relations with other States” (ie political independence) has been met.

Could things change? Yes.

Spain might eventually agree to Catalan independence – this is highly unlikely. And once Spain does this, other States will follow.

Catalonia and Spain may enter into a civil war – let’s hope not. But eventually some States may as a result recognise Catalonia.

Spain may act so harshly towards Catalans now that international sympathy begins to emerge for Catalonia as a State – this is sometimes referred to as “remedial secession”; that the only way out for Catalonia is independence. Unlikely in this situation.

Ironically, the best way for Spain to keep Catalonia within Spain is to give it even more autonomy. But will it?

Duncan French