Rights of All Animals

  • Human beings, peaceable and cooperative plant foragers by nature, have no natural need or entitlement to use, own, or harm nonhuman animals or to alter, disrupt, or contaminate their natural homes or their biosphere.
  • Nonhuman animals are biological persons who should be deemed legal persons, naturally entitled to freedom from human beings and their societies, industries, institutions, economies, technologies, violence, and overpopulation.
  • All animals are entitled to equal autonomy, ecology, and dignity rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
  • Most human suffering, loss, deprivation, and early death come from injustice toward nonhuman animals. Establishing rights of all animals is the remedy.
  • Be a Responsible Policies for Animals member. Dedicate yourself to establishing rights of all animals.

Animal Rights and Responsible Policies for Animals

Article revealing failure of the first wave of the “animal rights movement.”

“Animal rights” is almost always used incorrectly by the news industry and most animal organizations and advocates. This hampers animal-rights advocacy by creating confusion about its goal, divergence from rights-promoting strategies, and delusion about what constitutes progress toward animal rights. People have helped animals in countless ways for thousands of years without promoting rights for them. Promoting rights means describing the rights other animals need to lead fulfilling lives, why meaningful protection is impossible without rights, and why human beings as well as other animals will benefit when all have the rights they need.

A key mistake many advocates make is believing rights come after countless “cruelty-fighting” efforts, countless rescues of animals who have no rights, millions of awareness-raising exposés and news items, all designed to get more people to “care about the animals.” In fact, rights are the beginning of meaningful protection – the basis for eliminating cruel and inhumane practices – the Constitutional and legal platform for policies that protect rights-holders’ autonomy and dignity interests. Rights come before abolition of rights-violating practices, not after. Rights do not come from increased caring; they manifest humans’ natural empathy and respect for others. Once established, rights then amplify the respect all individual sentient beings deserve.

That is why no amount of effort to protect animals with no rights – at this time, all nonhuman animals – can provide meaningful protection or lead to the establishment of rights. That is why Responsible Policies for Animals promotes rights rather than the illusory “animal-protection” or “fighting-cruelty” treadmill – if we want permanent, long-term, fundamental change rather than the horrific status quo with no end in sight. Far more animals suffer more intensely than before the declared animal-rights movement began three decades ago – not because humans do not care about other animals but because nonhumans still lack rights and no amount of caring can fix that. “Protection” without rights is like a roof on a building with no foundation or frame.

finger “Animal rights” refers to …

… basic constitutional & legal rights, species-appropriate secondary rights, and rights enforcement applied to all sentient beings (animals who experience their lives) — see RPA’s Draft Bill of Animal Rights.

… political proposals demanding those rights, organized efforts to establish those rights, writings and activities aimed at establishing those rights.

Examples of basic rights: to live according to one’s species’ original nature and not according to human desires or purposes; not to be owned or used by human beings; not to be destroyed or driven from one’s natural home for human convenience.

Examples of species-appropriate secondary rights: of fish not to be removed from their natural aquatic ecosystems by humans or have radioactive or agriculture waste introduced into their ecosystems by humans;

of chickens not to be slaughtered, bred, or raised for food by humans;

of rattlesnakes not to be systematically sought out in their natural surroundings, collected, and killed by humans;

of canines and equines not to be bred and kept for companionship or labor by humans.

Just as all individual human beings need rights for protection against wrongs by government officials and institutions, all individual nonhuman animals need rights to protect them from the serious unjustified harm human beings routinely do to them.

The animal-rights movement does not seek to protect nonhuman animals against harm from other nonhuman animals that is part of natural living in natural ecosystems — such as naturally occurring predation. It does seek to protect them against harm caused by humans via nonhuman animals – human-instigated animal fights, feeding bred or captured animals to other animals held captive in violation of their rights; and so on – as human injustice is the relevant cause of all such harm.

finger Responsible Policies for Animals teaches why …

… animal rights is the only basis for responsible policies for nonhuman animals — because inhumane treatment of animals is irresponsible and humane treatment is only possible with rights, as we know from human rights;

… animal rights is the most likely solution to humanity’s biggest problems: widespread chronic disease, soaring medical & insurance costs, influenza pandemics, poor nutrition, obesity, food & water shortages and soaring prices, poverty, war, global warming, water & soil contamination, and more (see brochures mentioned below); and

… human supremacy, speciesism, and policies & practices aimed only at benefiting human beings harm the public interest.

finger Responsible Policies for Animals teaches those things …

… at this website;

… in this brochure;

… in its campaigns;

… in its newsletter;

… in its factsheets;

… in published articles and letters;

… in meetings and discussions with influential people and the general public; and

… in RPA’s presentations to audiences of all kinds.

finger Used accurately, “animal rights” does not refer to (despite often being confused with) …

… loving or caring about animals;

… helping, rescuing, adopting, or finding homes for animals under the animal-welfare/animal-exploitation system;

… working to improve animal-welfare regulations;

… living or promoting a vegan lifestyle (no use of anything from animals or anything tested on animals) or consuming a vegan diet (plants-only eating);

RPA has a strategy paper that deals with the distinctions between actual rights and other types of animal advocacy:

All of those positive attitudes and actions for animals, though kind and beneficial as far as they go, do not specifically promote animal rights and cannot establish basic constitutional & legal rights.

The concept of animal rights exists because more and more animals have always been treated more and more inhumanely under the animal-welfare system no matter how many people care about them, help them, work to improve regulations, or refrain from purchasing products of animal exploitation.

Reasons for that constant worsening are built into systems in which human beings exercise rights and engage in free enterprise while nonhuman animals have no rights.

With responsible policies for animals that are also responsible policies for people and ecosystemsmeaningful, enforceable legal rights for all sentient beings – people and members of all other species not driven extinct by ours should be able to live enjoyable and rewarding lives for about the next 500 million years. That is about how long scientists predict the sun will continue to support life on Earth. At the start of the 21st century, human beings have not yet chosen a 500-million-year plan. And no such plan can succeed without animal rights.

All of the above is why Responsible Policies for Animals works to promote animal rights and urges anyone who wants all sentient beings, including people, to live enjoyable and rewarding lives for as long as nature permits to support Responsible Policies for Animals.


Animal Rights and Politics

Political activity is usually thought of as promoting or opposing legislation, candidates, government programs, or officeholders. But the root meaning of “politics” is any activity related to public affairs.

Animal rights – basic constitutional & legal rights of all individual animals to personal and ecological sovereignty – are a long way from existing in Constitution and law. Animal rights is a radical proposal to change all human institutions fundamentally, because they are based on inhumane treatment of animals and inhumane treatment of animals is a major factor in humanity’s big problems.

Because animal rights is a radical proposal, no officeholder or candidate supports it. Supporting animal rights publicly before it is embraced by a significant number of people would most likely end an officeholder or candidate’s career in electoral, legislative, and administrative politics. Politicians who say they support animal rights are usually using the term incorrectly.

That doesn’t mean there is no place for animal rights in politics. It means the appropriate place for animal rights in politics is in educating people who influence public affairs. That includes people involved in electoral, legislative, and administrative politics, but it also includes the citizenry, especially people who influence or seek to influence public affairs and institutions.

Responsible Policies for Animals (RPA) is an educational nonprofit organization whose tax-exempt status prohibits significant involvement in endorsing legislation or candidates for elective office. RPA does not involve itself in electoral or legislative politics. But campaign and legislative activities aimed at helping animals are not animal-rights activities – they do not promote the basic rights or institutional changes nonhuman animals require to be treated humanely, because officials cannot support such changes and expect to be reelected.

Based on the popular, limited media definition of “politics” as whatever conflict is currently on the public agenda, that would seem to mean RPA is not involved in politics. But RPA constantly takes part in politics – based on the true, complete meaning of ‘politics’ as all that affects public affairs.

RPA’s 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign to get our land-grant universities (LGUs) out of the meat industry is the quintessential political effort promoting animal rights as the long-term endeavor it has to be due to its radical nature.

Almost all of our 106 (LGUs) – in all 50 states and some territories – run elaborate training, research, and promotional programs for the meat industry, including fish, dairy, eggs, and feed crops. Doing this involves teaching the anti-animal-rights philosophy at the heart of civilization and its institutions: that nonhuman animals exist for humans to use; that nonhuman beings cannot have rights, only protections. That is a devastating political activity against the public interest.

RPA’s many press releases and educational mailings in the 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign and RPA’s presentations, meetings, and websites, its newsletter, and its other original literature and activities are the political endeavors that eventually – in the time it naturally takes to create fundamental change – will lead to all animals’ having basic rights, the only meaningful protection.

Other kinds of political activity for nonhuman animals may gratify with short-term victories, but such conservative methods do not advance animal rights – they reinforce the animal-welfare status quo that includes all forms of animal use, i.e., inhumane treatment of animals with no rights.


Check out RPA’s unique animal-rights brochure, available free to download, print, and photocopy: Human Misery: The Animal-Abuse Factor

To download and prepare brochures for distribution, (1) print the two pages separately; (2) photocopy two-sided; (3) fold in thirds with front and back where they belong.

Contact RPA to request brochures by mail.


Practical Steps Toward Animal Rights

Due to its radical nature — requiring fundamental change to most human institutions — the practical steps we can take toward eventually establishing the basic constitutional & legal rights of all sentient beings will take a long time to bring the needed change.

Practical steps toward animal rights include …

… directly addressing the institutions most responsible for perpetuating animal use & ownership and ecosystem destruction. This includes RPA’s 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign to get our universities out of the meat industry and educating officials and others about the need to do this.

It also includes RPA’s This Land Is Their Land campaign to protect free-living animals (‘wildlife’) by changing land-use practices. Suburban sprawl, cattle & other enslaved-animal grazing, and over-farming land to grow feed crops for animals used for food are all inhumane treatment of animals and harmful to human beings as well.

… keeping to rights advocacy in all of our endeavors. It is important for rights advocates to be consistent and as much as possible make choices that minimize humans’ harmful impact on other animals. But shopping choices alone are not a rights-promoting strategy. Rights advocates do well to read about rights and not only animal abuse and the fighting of it. Fighting animal abuse does not advance animal rights even though cruelty to animals must be prohibited.

… teaching human beings’ true primate nature and how animal use & ownership and ecosystem disruption diverge from original human nature. Humans are natural herbivores, naturally cooperative, empathetic, and altruistic (aggressive, violent, and greedy mainly when threatened). Human rights are threatened, and nonhumans’ rights precluded, by institutions’ promoting unnatural behavior like meat-eating, feed-crop production, fishing, occupying too much land, and other inhumane practices.

In short: Make less-inhumane choices, but advocate for rights and support organized animal-rights activities like RPA’s campaigns, too, because establishing basic rights for a new class of beings — nonhuman animals — is a long-term struggle that cannot be accomplished primarily through shopping choices or helping those who have no rights.