Latest news

Declaration on Cetacean Rights

1st June 2010

The world’s first Declaration on the Rights of Cetaceans has been promulgated by the recent conference of the Collegium for Advanced Studies in the University of Helsinki, Finland held on 21-22nd May, 2010.

The Preamble to the Declaration notes that: “International law manifests a growing sense of duty to whales and dolphins; contemporary ethical reflection brings new theoretical tools to bear on cetacean moral status; and scientific research gives us novel insights into the complexities of cetacean minds and societies.” And argues that “In the light of this, scholars from the relevant disciplines draw together to spell out all the implications of such developments, and to build a collective case for the attribution of basic moral and legal rights to cetaceans, great and small.”

Speakers at the Conference included Centre Fellow, Professor Thomas I. White, Professor of Business Ethics at Marymount University, Los Angeles, and other leading philosophers, lawyers, and scientists.

The text of the Declaration reads as follows:

Based on the principle of the equal treatment of all persons;
Recognizing that scientific research gives us deeper insights into the complexities of cetacean minds, societies and cultures;
Noting that the progressive development of international law manifests a growing sense of entitlement by cetaceans;
We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing.

We believe that:

  1. Every individual cetacean has the right to life.
  2. No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.
  3. All cetaceans have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.
  4. No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual.
  5. Cetaceans have the right to the protection of their natural environment.
  6. Cetaceans have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.
  7. The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.
  8. Cetaceans are entitled to an international order in which these rights, freedoms and norms can be fully realized.
  9. No State, corporation, human group or individual should engage in any activity that undermines these rights, freedoms and norms.
  10. Nothing in this Declaration shall prevent a State from enacting stricter provisions for the protection of cetacean rights.

    Individuals are invited to sign the Declaration here.