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International Animal Rights ConferenceInternational Animal Rights Conference

Saturday, 15.09.2012   10:00-11:20   Room A
Great Ape Project relaunched
Fundamental rights for chimpanzees, gorillas, and co.
Colin Goldner

The Great Ape Project, initiated some 20 years ago by Peter Singer, Paola Cavalieri and other scientists calls for the Great Apes -- chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos -- to be granted certain basic rights, which are so far reserved for humans: The fundamental right to live, to individual liberty and to physical as well as emotional intactness, which actually covers all cases of great apes interacting with humans, such as hunting, circus, zoo and animal testing. Great apes are to be granted the same moral and legal - i.e. enforceable - status, which every human being enjoys. Singer et al convincingly established that the traditional discrimination of man and great apes is no longer sustainable in the light of scientific knowledge and therefore is to be morally discarded.

Concerning one question controversially discussed in the animal rights movement: what legitimizes the efforts especially for the great apes, whose possible integration into man`s legal community would only shift the borderline, therefore separating man and great apes on the one side and all the other animals on the other side, by which the latter - elephants, dolphins, cows, pigs, hen etc. - would gain nothing, one can pragmatically say: you have to begin somewhere. Furthermore - and this is the decisive factor - the great apes characterize the key element of the relationship between man and nature, they define like nothing and nobody else the sacrosanct borderline between man and animal: as soon as they have been established as being "on the other side", all the other animals are there too. If the border were permeable, that could be a "door-opener", and would in consequence be of benefit to all animals - the human and the non-human. In the best case, it could lead to exactly the slippery slope that the representatives of the "old order" fear so much: to a radical change in the social consensus concerning the relationship of man and animal.













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