Live From the Second World Conference on Bioethics and Animal Rights in Brazil

Elizabeth Bennett

DAY 1 Ola from the Second World Conference on Bioethics and Animal Rights.  First, I would like to say that I am very thankful that Pace Law School and the Center for Environmental Legal Studies provided me with the opportunity to attend this prestigious and world-renowned conference and for all of the conference organizers’ hard work and hospitality.  As the presentations I have attended thus far have been informative and thought-provoking for me, I will do my best to share my experience with you.

Upon arrival, a symphony was playing.  After introductions and honorariums, Professor David Cassuto of Pace Law School and Director of the Brazil-American Institute for Law and Environment (BAILE) spoke about current trends in environmental law and the animal world.  He discussed the intersection of animal and environmental law and how they often clash, despite the many common grounds upon which they merge.  He went on to discuss the legal framework for protecting animals, distinguishing between animal welfarists and animal rights activists, stating that animal welfarists wish for stronger laws, while animal rights activists believe that humans should not use animals at all.  He also pointed out that in the United States legal system, animals are property and the laws concerning animals regulate relationships between humans about animals.  He made an interesting comparison between the appropriateness of humans making laws on behalf of nonhuman animals and politicians enacting laws on our behalf without truly knowing us, what we desire, or how we would like to be protected.  This comparison comes as an interesting response to doubts about human ability and right to make laws about non-human animals when they do not completely understand what animals want or need.

Professor Cassuto also discussed whether animals can be considered “persons” under the law and how this would change the way we protect them.  This served as a great opening to the Conference, as many of the presentations that followed addressed these questions and dealt with similar issues. Continue reading

Brazil Anew– The Animal Law Tour

David Cassuto

Our hero heads back to Brazil next week.  First I’ll speak at the International Animal Law Conference in Salvador.   The conference also features a student forum where, I’m delighted to report, Pace 3L, Elizabeth Bennett, will present a paper on factory farming.          Continue reading

Blogging from Brazil

David Cassuto

I’m live-blogging from the plane on my way to Rio.  Actually, that’s not true.  There’s no in-flight internet connection so by the time you read this, the time of writing will have long passed.  Indeed, this situation reifies the ongoing and insuperable challenge faced by all writers.  Time, a crucial component of all experience marches ever onward; the writer can only try to invoke through words that which can never come again.  Or, as Jean-François Lyotard puts it, “in description, writing tries to meet the challenge of being equal to its momentary absence.”  Upshot: even though I’m not live-blogging, I just like saying “live-blogging” so that’s what I did.

In any case, I’ll be in Brazil for the next several months, teaching at the Getulio Vargas Foundation School of Law in Rio (FGV Direito-Rio).  FGV is the only law school in Brazil that utilizes the Socratic method and is well on its way to developing a world class environmental law program under the direction of my former student now colleague, Romulo Sampaio.  My stay in Rio has been made possible through the good offices of the late great Senator Fulbright.  Continue reading