Since the beginning of ICALP we have insisted and focused our best efforts on studying and analyzing the situation of the legal status of animals in Spain and in the world. Many researchers have contributed their grain of sand to reflect the legal reality that other species live, which often leaves them helpless in the face of cases of abuse or exploitation because they are considered an object, something material.
Among our objectives as a consolidated Research Center, is to achieve a legal definition of the animal, which distinguishes it from the consideration of “thing” or “product.” For this reason, since 2009 we have promoted the change of legal status of animals in the Spanish Civil Code, from things to "sentient beings"
Reform of the legal status of animals in Spain
Among the different investigations and studies proposed by the ICALP members mentioned in this Dossier, the MINECO projects granted by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness can be highlighted, which were the first that a state university entity granted for the study -as scientific objective-, of the relationship between animals and law. For more than a decade, Dr. Marita Giménez-Candela, as main researcher, has dealt with the legal status of animals in the world, both in their origins and in their current situation, as well as in the political and legal expectations that are glimpsed from face to possible modifications in the legal texts, especially the Civil Code and the Constitution.
The dating of the first works published by the author is striking, because in 2009 few jurists even dared to state that the turning point of the change in the legal treatment of animals was precisely the change of legal status of the same in the Civil Code formulated in positive: from things to sentient beings. This pioneering vision of Dr. Giménez-Candela, which is shown in her book "Animal Transition in Spain" (Tirant lo Blanch, Valencia 2019), is reflected in a detailed analysis of the issue, reflected in her own published research works (more than 21 between articles, books and book chapters), but, in addition, it is reflected in the impulse -often against the current- of works by ICALP scholars and researchers and academic initiatives, such as the Master in Animal Law or the journal dA Animal Law (Forum of Animal Law Studies), which, if today seem peaceful and accepted, at the time, they were pioneers and groundbreaking. Although even today some jurists consider legal studies on animals and their welfare "a bet for the future", the reality is that Animal Law -so called in a globally accepted way-, is an undeniable and irreversible reality, an emerging matter accepted within of the XXI century legal system.
A new legal consideration of animals and the consequences that derive from it, is what shows all the work that this research group, ICALP, has carried out: doctoral theses read (4) and in progress (6 ), scientific articles, competitive research projects (state, European and local), a scientific journal indexed in SCOPUS, a legal website with the only updated database on Animal Law, two collections of books on Animal Law, the optional “ Animal Law and Welfare ”(included in the Curriculum of the UAB Faculty of Law, which is the only existing one in a Faculty of European Law), the Master in Animal Law (face-to-face and online) which continues to be the only one in its genre in Europe and that it has already reached 10 editions (face-to-face) and 7 editions (online), organization of Congresses and Webinars of global scope and classes and, ultimately, the promotion of a research community of global and transversal imprint, which promotes collaboration between jurists and specialists in the sciences of animal welfare (veterinarians, biologists), for a better knowledge of animals and an improvement of their regulation through Law.
In the Dossier that ICALP has prepared and is presented here, there is a long list of research and analysis works in this regard, many of them are by the founder of ICALP and the promoter of all this change in legal perspective regarding animals. But there are also important works by other authors, who are members or not of ICALP, but who have seen their efforts and creativity welcomed within this Research Center. There are several comments on judgments that highlight the reality of change and reform that is intended to be achieved. For example, the cases of shared custody of animals considered as domestic, analyzed in "The shared possession of a domestic animal as a sentient being" by Olivera Oliva and the comment of the judgment nº 465/14 of the Provincial Court of Barcelona of Oranich.
After all, removing animals from the category of things within the Spanish legal system is the first step to moving forward. Now, it seems that at the beginning of the parliamentary process in Congress to modify the Civil Code, the Mortgage Law and the Civil Procedure Law, a process of de-objectification and rupture with the current conception inheriting the Cartesian and reifying conception of animals begins.
Europe and the consideration of animals as "sentient beings"
This Spanish reform that has been, once again, implemented, became a legal reality more than a decade ago in other countries of the European environment. In fact, the new consideration of animals as sentient beings was promoted by art. 13 of the Lisbon Treaty (TFEU) in 2009.
Thus, other countries such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland have already made the necessary reforms to protect animals from abuse, mistreatment and exploitation, getting a little closer to the welfare state that we want so much for them.
As a multidisciplinary and international organization, some of the articles and studies published, included in this Dossier, refer to the situation that has been experienced in some neighboring countries. This is the case of France, with "The reform of the civil legal status of animals in French law" by Lelanchon or the publication on "The legal status of animals in Poland by" by Sulkowski.
The case of Portugal was described in "Recognizing sentience in the Portuguese Civil Code" by Correia Mendoça and in "The reform of the Portuguese Civil Code regarding the status of the animal" by Reis Moreira, among other publications.
In this context, departing a bit from the situation of companion animals, Giménez-Candela also analyzes the treatment of production animals, such as fish within the EU and in Spain, as well as that of bees, to purpose of the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
The decosification of animals worldwide
In Latin American countries such as Argentina, animals such as the orangutan Sandra and the chimpanzee Cecilia were recognized as subjects of rights by different judges.
The legal situation of animals in some countries such as Chile, Colombia and Argentina has been studied by professionals such as Carlos Contreras, who carried out his doctoral thesis on this subject, directed by Dr. Giménez-Candela. Another of the situations that appear as case studies have been "The pet from the perspective of the multispecies family and its insertion into the Brazilian legal system", which authors such as Disconzi, Jardim and Silveira already spoke about in 2017.
Within the training area of ICALP, specifically in the Master of Animal Law and Society, different theses were formulated throughout the different editions that are part of this conglomerate of studies and research in this regard. For example, the Final Master's Thesis by Andrea Peñaranda on "Animals as subjects of law in the Colombian legal system."
To facilitate access to all the information and studies that will help us understand the origins and the future that awaits them within the different international jurisprudence, we present a Dossier where all these publications are collected in relation to the legal status of animals. We hope that it can serve as support for future research and that together we will be able to shape a reality that is increasingly present in our society.