June 21, 2023

Conceptualizing a Decolonizing Rule of Law for Animals


Within animal law, there is growing interest to connecting the problem of animal welfare underenforcement and the self-governing nature of animal-use industries to the rule of law, a foundational constitutional and governing principle in jurisdictions across the world. That the rule of law is now globally ubiquitous is generally applauded, and this paper will explore its possible extension to animals. But we can also understand the rule of law’s global prominence as the legacy of British imperialism, involving the colonial subordination of pre-existing Indigenous legal orders. Is it possible to reconcile these two perspectives regarding the progressive quotient of the rule of law? Can rule of law-based arguments seeking to advance the legal status of animals advance decolonization? Drawing on the juridical but also scholarly vision of a pluralistic rule of law, this paper answers these questions in the affirmative.


Maneesha Deckha is Professor and Lansdowne Chair in Law at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Her research expertise includes critical animal law, vegan ecofeminist theory, and postcolonial theory. She has held the Fulbright Visiting Chair in Law and Society at New York University and currently serves as Director of the Animals & Society Research Initiative at the University of Victoria . She serves on the Editorial Boards of Social & Legal Studies, Politics and Animals, and Hypatia and is an Advisory Board Member for the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law. Her manuscript entitled Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2021 and her documentary, A Deeper Kindness: Youth Activism in Animal Law, launched in October 2022. Professor Deckha is a graduate of McGill University, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Columbia Law School.