Review: Steven M. Wise’s Talk at Doughty Street Chambers

By Randi Milgram

On June 13 2016, ALAW was honored to host Steven M. Wise at the Doughty Street Chambers. A professor of animal rights at several U.S. law schools and an esteemed author on the subject, Mr. Wise is also the founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, the only civil rights organisation dedicated to the procurement of legal rights for nonhuman species. Mr. Wise spoke to the group about the Project’s steadfast efforts to affect change in the laws regarding personhood, efforts that form the subject of a new documentary, “Unlocking the Cage”. Attendees were fortunate to see footage from this film, which UK residents can currently watch on BBC iPlayer.

steve wiseAs Mr. Wise explained, the Nonhuman Rights Project began their tireless efforts in New York, fighting for recognition of legal personhood for chimpanzees. Every step in the process required extensive research and difficult decision-making to ensure that their cases had the greatest chance of success. From the venue to the animals chosen to the specific law to be applied, all of the Project’s actions had to be unassailable in order to make progress in this long struggle. Mr. Wise informed the crowd that after much research, they chose the procedural remedy of habeus corpus as the most compelling means by which to make their case. Although the legal battle has been long and difficult and will continue to be, definite strides have been made. Mr. Wise’s persuasive words left the enthusiastic crowd inspired, optimistic, and eager to see what happens next.

If you are interested in assisting in similar efforts toward nonhuman personhood in the UK, please contact Paula Sparks at paula.sparks@alaw.org.uk.