Greater democracy essential to greater protection of animals, finds ground-breaking report from the Centre for Animals and Social Justice
A ground-breaking new research report from the Centre for Animals and Social Justice recommends fundamental changes to the way the government makes animal welfare policy. The main conclusion is that introducing greater democracy into decisions affecting animals is essential to achieve effective animal protection that commands public confidence.
Titled ‘How to Protect Animal Welfare’, the report reveals that claims made by government and animal use industries that the ‘UK has the highest animal welfare standards in the world’ lack supporting evidence. Instead, such statements are a tactic to provide false public reassurance, thereby distracting attention from the weak enforcement of animal welfare regulations.
In reality, analysis of policies on animal experiments, animal farming and even the conditions of birds produced for the shooting industry shows that, regardless of which party has been in power, welfare considerations and related public concern have been largely neglected by Whitehall units dominated by narrow economic thinking and business interests. Meanwhile, the popular will for stringent animal welfare standards is denied effective representation within government.
The report includes a summary of a research project carried out for the Centre by Professor Rob Garner of the University of Leicester. Professor Garner concludes that the animal protection movement needs to take unified action to address the systemic flaws in government which render it indifferent to animal welfare. Suggested reforms span from proportional representation for general elections through to a much greater role for public deliberation when Whitehall departments formulate policies affecting animals. Without such reforms, lobbying campaigns aimed at addressing animal welfare problems in isolation will continue to fall on deaf ears in government.
The Centre’s research reveals that a fundamental weakness in the UK’s approach to animal welfare is the lack of any government body with a dedicated animal welfare remit. The report therefore recommends the establishment of a governmental Animal Protection Commission (APC) to finally provide an influential voice for animal welfare within the British state. Public participation would be at the heart of proposed APC operations, supported by scientific expertise.
Praise for ‘How to Protect Animal Welfare’:
“As Co-Chair of the All-Party Animal Welfare Group in Parliament I thank the Centre for Animals & Social Justice for their work in highlighting and promoting the need for democratic public engagement in animal welfare protection. CASJ’s contribution to this important debate is helping further participation and research.”
Henry Smith MP (Conservative, Crawley)
“As one of those ethicists seeking to make ethical arguments in order to try to change public attitudes, I’m convinced that what I and others are doing in this sphere is likely to be insufficient without the kind of scrutiny of the current levers of power and the need to cooperate in ways of changing them that the CASJ recommends.”
David Clough, Professor of Theological Ethics, University of Chester
"This is a groundbreaking, timely and rigorous report. It's of crucial importance not just for animals and their welfare, but also for the state of our democracy. If Britain truly is a nation of animal lovers, then let's hear from them!"
Dr Alasdair Cochrane, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Sheffield
Notes to Editors