February 11, 2022

Roundtable in Animal Law: “Why Animals are Fundamental-Rights-Holding Persons” with Ankita Shanker


What started out as the formal recognition of the personhood and legal protection of the fundamental rights of specified groups of human beings, in the earliest human rights instruments, has expanded in the modern age to encompass all human beings, or at least that is the direction in which global legal trends are headed. Yet, despite these developments in the context of humans, under actual legal provisions, non-humans are not entitled to recognition or protection of any personhood and fundamental rights they may hold. This research focusses on investigating the notions of personhood and fundamental rights to assess whether non-human animals hold the status of ‘rights-holding persons’ under foundational legal principles, and if so, whether excluding them from the recognition and protection of these statuses can be justified under the foundational principles of the very laws that uphold this exclusion.


Ankita Shanker earned her post-graduate degree in law from Oxford University and qualified as a barrister at the Bar of England and Wales. After nearly 1.5 years of legal practice at international criminal courts/tribunals, she is now working towards her doctorate in animal rights law and policy (with research fellowships funded by the Finnish National Agency for Education and the Swiss National Science Foundation) at the Universität Basel. In her spare time she works, pro bono, as a moot coordinator to the UK Centre for Animal Law, as a consultant composing law and policy recommendations for the EU on behalf of the Dutch coalition for animal NGOs, and as a legal and policy advisor to various animal NGOs.


The Roundtable will be chaired by Professor Johanna Gibson, Herchel Smith Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Convenor of Animal Law (LLM) at CCLS