The EuroGroup for Animal Law Studies (EGALS) met in Paris on April 18-19 for their first working session to discuss important and pending issues for the group.
The group, dedicated to promoting the advancement of Animal Law Studies and Research within the European continent, met in the Brasserie “Le François Coppée” on Boulevard Montparnasse. Of the four founding institutions, three attended and participated actively in the meeting. Representing the Law Faculty of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), Professor Dr. Teresa Gimenez-Candela, Director of the Master in Animal Law and Society and of the research group Animal, Law and Society (ADS), Mr. Carlos Contreras, Ph.D. Candidate and Student Coordinator of the Masters Program, and Mr. Daniel Parsons, Academic Coordinator of the Masters Program, all actively participated in the meeting. From the Juristische Fakultät der Universität Basel (Law Faculty of the University de Basel), Ms. Saskia Stücki and Ms. Livia Boscardin were present and represented Dr. Anne Peters, who was unable to take part in the meeting due to prior engagements. Mr. Jean-Marc Neumann, Vice-Chairman of the LFDA (La Fondation Droit Animal, Ethique et Sciences – Animal Law Foundation, Ethics and Science), Coordinator and Executive Secretary of EGALS had organized the meeting and coordinated the logistics Among the founding members, not present but excused was Dr. Margot Michel from the University of Zurich. Also present, was Associate Member, Professor Marie Fox of the Law School of the University of Birmingham.
The meeting kicked off with the introduction of Professor Fox, who provided an overview of the status of Animal Law teaching and research in Great Britain. While Animal Law is not yet taught at the University of Birmingham, Professor Fox exhibited a willingness and a determination to initiate a class in the near future. As she noted, the status of Animal Law Studies in the United Kingdom is not well established, with most of the Animal Law classes at the University level being taught by individual professors within Law and Veterinary Faculties, which can lead to a precarious situation as they leave faculties without adequate replacement. Professor Fox promised to provide a list of professors in the United Kingdom who are interested in the study of Animal Law and who may be interested in working with EGALS in the future. The members proceeded to discuss the reactions by the Legal and Academic Community. While there have been publications in various media, the relative lack of attention, especially from the French Legal Community, especially Law Schools, illustrates the pressing need to further this field of study.
After the introduction, the members discussed the coverage of EGALS in the media and proceeded to discuss some logistics to improve the dissemination and expansion of the EGALS group. The members confirmed that the First European Annual Conference organized by EGALS is to be held at the University of Basel on 4-5 April 2014. The focus of the conference will be “The Animal Turn” and focus on new perspectives in Animal Law, from multiple distinct perspectives with speakers to help clarify what Animal Law is and why it should be taught in Europe.
Closing the meeting in advance of the following day’s meeting at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the members agreed to have a follow up meeting in November 2013 in Barcelona at the UAB.
The following day, the members present at the first EGALS working session were joined at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris by Mr. Louis Schweitzer, Chairman of the LFDA and also Chairman of the Council of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of France, and Prof. Dr. Jean Claude Nouët, Honorary Chairman and founder of the LFDA and also a drafter of the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights.
This meeting, whose location highlights its importance, started with the introduction of all members and a recap of the previous days´ activities. After the summary of the first working session, Mr. Schweitzer and Prof. Dr. Jean Claude Nouët proceeded to ask a series of pertinent and poignant questions about the status of Animal Law Studies in France, Germany and other European Countries, contrasting these with the status in the United States and other regions. Mr. Schweitzer was particularly interested not only in the academic side of Animal Welfare Law, but also in the training and supply and demand for Animal Law Professionals in Europe. The topics raised by Mr. Schweitzer helped identify many issues left to address and helped mark new directions for the progression of Animal Law, both within the academic field and within the professional arena.
After a spirited discussion of these topics the Founding Charter of EGALS was officially signed. All members left the first working session for EGALS with a positive attitude and a feeling that real progress had occurred, and all are looking forward to their pending tasks and to the next meeting in Barcelona in November 2013.