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Know Your Vegan Rights - International Law

International Law

Your rights as a vegan begin with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (The Declaration):

Under Article 1 of The Declaration, vegans are equal in dignity and rights.

Under Article 7 of The Declaration, vegans are equal before the law and entitled without discrimination to equal protection of the law.

Under Article 18 vegans are entitled to their belief and have the right to manifest their belief in teaching and practice.

Under Article 22 a vegan is entitled to social and cultural rights indispensible for their dignity and free development of their personality.

Under Article 25 a vegan is entitled to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being including food, medical care and social services.

Under Article 26 vegans have the right to a vegan education.

Under Article 28 vegans are entitled to a social order in which their vegan rights are respected and provided for.

Under Article 29(2) law can limit a vegan’s right to exercise rights and freedoms only if in exercising their rights vegans do not recognise or respect the rights and freedoms of others; or if in pursuing their vegan rights vegans compromise society’s moral code, public order or the aims of a democratic society.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formalised by 2 Covenants. These Covenants gave legal force to the social, economic, cultural and political rights of all people as described in the Declaration. These were the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). They restate our rights and indicate the obligations of member nations.

Vegan rights under the ICCPR:

Under Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, vegans have the right to self determination, social and cultural development.

Under Article 2 of the ICCPR, a state must respect human rights “without distinction of any kind”.

Under Article 2 (3) (a), if vegan rights have been violated the state must do whatever is necessary to give effect to our rights.

Under Article 18, we have the right to our vegan belief and the right to manifest our belief in teaching and practice.

Under Article 26, member nations must enact laws prohibiting discrimination against us as vegans and guarantee our equality

Under Article 27, minority cultures must be allowed to enjoy and practice their culture.

Vegan rights under the ICESCR

Under Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, member nations must guarantee our vegan rights without discrimination.

Under Article 6, we have the right to freely choose employment.

Under Article 10 (3), member nations are required to take special measure to protect children from anything which affects their morals or health.

Under Article 13 (3), member nations must respect our convictions in the moral education of our children.


The UDHR, the Articles contained in the ICCPR, the ICESCR and other legislation appear straight forward. However, when a case is presented to court there is often much more to discuss than anticipated. Law is a very complex institution but that does not mean that we should be put off from arguing our case. For example, in the European case of H v UK (ECtHR App. 18187/91, also known as W v UK. See "Court Cases"), although veganism was confirmed as a belief for the purpose of European Rights law, the court used the concept of “proportionality” to discuss whether or not the vegan concerned should have to do a job where he might come into contact with substances derived from other animals. It was decided in this case that it was proportional! Hence, although it might seem clear that we have rights, a carnist legal system can always rule against us.

 

The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

 

The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/36/a36r055.htm) focuses on the rights of individuals to live out their lives according to their deep convictions.

Article 1
1.     Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.  This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

2.     No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.

3.     Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Article 2

1.     No one shall be subject to discrimination by any State, institution, group of persons, or person on grounds of religion or other beliefs.

2.     For the purposes of the present Declaration, the expression "intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief" means any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on religion or belief and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis.

Article 3

Discrimination between human beings on grounds of religion or belief constitutes an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and shall be condemned as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enunciated in detail in the International Covenants on Human Rights, and as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between nations.

Article 4

1.     All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition, exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life.

2.     All States shall make all efforts to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit any such discrimination, and to take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion or other beliefs in this matter.

Article 5

1.     The parents or, as the case may be, the legal guardians of the child have the right to organize the life within the family in accordance with their religion or belief and bearing in mind the  moral education in which they believe the child should be brought up.

2.     Every child shall enjoy the right to have access to education in the matter of religion or belief in accordance with the wishes of his parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, and shall not be compelled to receive teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his parents or legal guardians, the best interests of the child being the guiding principle.

3.     The child shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the ground of religion or belief.  He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, respect for freedom of religion or belief of others, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.

The International community employs a “Special Rapporteur” to oversee implementation of these important rights and equality provisions. His name is Professor Heiner Bielefeldt. You can watch a video clip of Mr Bielefeldt talking about the importance of being allowed to live according to your non-religious deep convictions here.

 

...European Law...