Home » News » International animal law expert Sabine Brels lectures at Stetson on legal status and treatment of animals

International animal law expert Sabine Brels lectures at Stetson on legal status and treatment of animals


French lawyer and international animal law expert Sabine Brels visited professors Paul Boudreaux and Royal Gardner’s seminar class on natural resources law on Sept. 26 to share her expertise in the field with students.

International animal law expert Sabine Brels visited Stetson Law.

International animal law expert Sabine Brels visited Stetson Law.

“The legal status of animals is very controversial,” Brels told the class.

Brels spoke about the various approaches of animal protection in the law. She explained differing modern views on the treatment of animals, ranging from welfarism in which the use of animals is permissible, to abolitionism in which the use of animals is not acceptable.

Brels stressed the need to build an appropriate legal status leading to more consideration for nonhuman animals.

Animals are considered by the general law as objects of human use, but some are protected as subjects or sentient beings to a limited extent, Brels said.

In order to improve the legal status of animals, some professors have explored, for example, the notions of “animal personhood” (S. Wise) and “living property” (D. Favre), she explained.

Brels described how the traditional animal welfare approach promotes the regulation of animal use, while the radical animal rights approach promotes the banning of animal use.

She described the differences and the links between three approaches of animal protection: conservationism (in environmental law), welfarism (in animal law) and abolitionism (in animal rights).

“A major role of the law is to protect the weak ones for more equity between living beings,” Brels said.

(L-R): Sabine Brels visited with therapy dog James and Professor Peter Fitzgerald while visiting campus.

(L-R): Sabine Brels visited with therapy dog James and Professor Peter Fitzgerald while visiting campus.

She stressed the need to avoid animal suffering by making better ethical choices, for example, by not buying animal food or clothing or products that are tested on animals.

She also described some of the negative impacts of factory farming and meat production on global warming, pollution, deforestation and depletion of the world’s water supply.

She emphasized the need for international law to intervene on this topic for the general interest. She said that, for example, vegetable alternatives to meat consumption such as plant proteins would serve human health and repartition of the world’s resources, environmental sustainability and animal welfare in a global way.

Brels has consulted on biodiversity conservation for international environmental organizations and scientific research centers.

Brels visited Stetson Law through Oct. 21 to share her special knowledge in the emerging field of animal law. In addition to class visits, she also addressed the law faculty on Stetson’s Gulfport campus on Oct. 9.