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The Swiss primate case: how courts have paved the way for the first direct democratic vote on animal rights

Blattner, Charlotte E. and Fasel, Raffael (2022) The Swiss primate case: how courts have paved the way for the first direct democratic vote on animal rights. Transnational Environmental Law, 11 (1). 201 - 214. ISSN 2047-1025

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S2047102521000170


A citizens' initiative was launched in 2016 in the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt, demanding that the rights catalogue in the Cantonal Constitution be complemented by a fundamental right to life and a right to bodily and mental integrity for non-human primates. This initiative became the subject of a three-year legal dispute that ended with a decision of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in September 2020, ruling that the initiative is legally valid and must be put to the people for a vote. This case note discusses the key developments in the dispute, including the groundbreaking decision by the Constitutional Court of Basel-Stadt, which held that cantons are free to 'expand the circle of rights holders beyond the anthropological barrier'. The authors, who were involved in the drafting of the initiative and acted as legal advisers in the judicial proceedings, offer first-hand insights into legal strategies and shed light on the importance of the case in the context of the ongoing efforts to secure rights for primates around the world.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2021 10:51
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2024 17:51

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