The concept of rights has its skeptics. So does the concept of animal rights and perhaps even more so the rights of nature. So what happens when these rights-based arguments are combined with indigenous world views to attempt to secure the basic interests and needs of one individual animal, a community of animals, or a species of animals? Is the result a stew of legal incomprehensibility? Or an ingenious and effective argument? Or something in between? In this talk, moderated by LEAP Student Fellow Eui Young Kim, Harvard Law School’s Kristen Stilt and Macarena Montes Franceschini will sort out these questions and offer their views, using examples from Ecuador, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, and others.
Kristen Stilt is Professor of Law, Faculty Director of the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program, and Faculty Director of the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World at Harvard Law School. She was named a Carnegie Scholar for her work on constitutional Islam, was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard in 2020-2021. Stilt received a J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law and holds a Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. Recent publications include Animal Markets and Zoonotic Disease in the United States (2023), a joint report of the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard and the Center for Environmental and Animal Protection at New York University, and “Rights of Nature, Rights of Animals,” in the Harvard Law Review Forum (2021). She is currently working on a book project about the global animal agriculture industry to be published by Oxford University Press; the Oxford Handbook of Global Animal Law with co-editors Anne Peters and Saskia Stucki, also under contract with OUP; an Animal Law and Policy casebook with Justin Marceau; and an article on rights of nature and animal rights with Macarena Montes.
Macarena Montes Franceschini holds a Ph.D. in Law from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) and is now a Visiting Fellow with the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School. She has been a visiting researcher at Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg and was previously a Rights Research Fellow with Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Program. She is also a board member of the UPF-Centre for Animal Ethics, editor of the journal Law, Ethics and Philosophy (LEAP), a member of the Editorial Committee of the Chilean Journal of Animal Law, and the treasurer of the Great Ape Project – Spain. She has written several articles on nonhuman animal personhood, animal rights, and animal law and a book titled Animal Law in Chile.
In 2021, Kristen and Macarena co-authored an amicus curiae brief with the Nonhuman Rights Project in a case before the Constitutional Court of Ecuador known as the “Estrellita Monkey Case.” They argued that the rights of nature provided for in the country’s constitution should apply to individual animals. The Constitutional Court adopted their arguments and cited them extensively in its decision, issued January 27, 2022.
This event is part of the Law, Ethics & Animals Program at Yale Law School’s Fall Speaker Series. It is co-sponsored with the Yale Animal Ethics Study Group, the Yale Animal Law Society, Yale Environmental Humanities, Yale Environmental Law Association, and the Yale Sustainable Food Program.