Friday, 13 December 2013

A Revised Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans

In 2010 a small group of self-selected scientists and activists gathered in Helsinki, Finland to discuss the rights of cetaceans under international law. Their purpose was to formulate a declaration of rights and to garner international support for such a declaration. The conference, entitled "Cetacean Rights: Fostering Moral and Legal Change", produced a declaration signed by the 11 members of the 'Helsinki Group'.

While this declaration is well intended, certain elements in it do not represent the well-being of some cetaceans, especially those 'who have nowhere else to go'

Because the Dolphin Embassy project and the Cetacean Studies Institute have done extensive research on this expanding population around the world, and have come to recognise the very real importance of protecting their needs against short-sighted, albeit well-meaning, efforts by activist organisations, a revision of the Helsinki Declaration has been undertaken.

The revised declaration is presented here. Comments are welcome, and the revised declaration is open for further revision.
To see the original Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans, as produced by the Helsinki Group, you can see their site here.

Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises

Based on the principle of the equal treatment of all persons;
Recognizing that scientific research gives us deeper insights into the complexities of cetacean minds, societies and cultures;
Recognizing that increased human interaction with cetaceans has produced deeper insights into their biological, social, and psychological requirements;
Recognizing that cetaceans have participated in mutually beneficial relationships with humans and have demonstrated adaptive capacity such that they manifest fully complex lives in built environments;
Noting that the progressive development of international law manifests an entitlement to life and well-being for cetaceans;
We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and well-being.

We conclude that:
1. Every individual cetacean has the right to life, safety, clean water, and a sonic environment that does no harm.

2. No cetacean shall be taken into captivity or be removed from their natural environment unless not doing so would endanger their survival. Any cetacean taken into human care shall be returned to their natural environment when feasible, determined on both biological and compassionate grounds. If not feasible it shall be provided an enriching environment that includes socialization with other cetaceans and with humans. Cetaceans  in human care shall have the right to bear offspring, recognising this as an important part of their social and biological nature. Any cetacean born in a human-managed environment has special status with a life-long responsibility for their care by humans.

3. No cetacean shall be subject to cruel treatment.

4. All cetaceans not in human care have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.

5. No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual, but may become a ward of such entities if necessary to protect and safeguard their life and well-being. Cetaceans who have come into human care, by natural circumstances or circumstances that are irreversible, shall be provided all due care for the duration of their natural lives.

6. Cetaceans have the right to the protection of their natural environment.

7. Cetaceans have the right, equal to protections provided for human cultures, to not be subject to the disruption of their cultures.

8. The rights, freedoms, and norms set forth in this Declaration shall be protected under international and domestic law as well as an international framework under the administration of the United Nations in which these rights, freedoms, and norms can be fully realized.

9. No State, corporation, human group or individual shall engage in any activity that undermines these rights, freedoms and norms.

10. Nothing in this Declaration shall prevent a State from enacting stricter provisions for the protection of cetacean rights as long as the well-being of cetaceans is foremost in such provisions.

Originally agreed and signed, 22nd May 2010, Helsinki, Finland
Revised by the Cetacean Studies Institute, Dec. 2013-Oct. 2014, Queensland, Australia

1 comment:

Judith Simon Prager, PhD said...

I believe that your modifications are sensitive to subtleties that the kind drafters of the Declaration may have overlooked. And I wish you well with your innovative, heart-centered concepts and works.