Commissions | 14.12.2022

UIA Approves Animal Law Commission Working Group

In October 2022, the UIA Executive Committee approved the formation of an Animal Law Commission Working Group (“Working Group”).

The approval was the result of the efforts of a group of U.S. lawyers led by Barbara Gislason, who serves on the Executive Committee of the UIA and is Editor-in-Chief of its flagship publication, the Juriste International.

The UIA Executive Committee has appointed Yolanda Eisenstein as the Working Group’s first president. Based in the U.S., Eisenstein is an animal lawyer and adjunct professor of animal and wildlife law. She has published several books on animals and the law. Her newest works are Representing Animal Protection Organizations, to be published by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 2023, and the second edition of Careers in Animal Law. Eisenstein is a past president of the ABA TIPS Animal Law Committee and currently serves as vice chair. In the U.S., her work in animal law is focused on wildlife, where she lobbies for pro-animal legislation, and globally, she works with the ABA International Animal Law Committee.

Working Group vice president Jamie McLaughlin has a background in finance. She was an Ameriprise Financial Services franchise owner and Certified Financial Planner for seventeen years prior to making a career change to focus on animal law. McLaughlin is currently pursuing legal Master’s degrees in animal and environmental law at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon. She has worked with the Humane Society of the United States, the Nonhuman Rights Project, Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Slaughter Free Network. McLaughlin’s focus is on the intersection of industrial animal agriculture, human rights, and the environment. Animal law is the extensive body of laws and cases that impact animals and how they fit into societies. It includes international treaties, and the laws, rules, and regulations of individual countries and their municipalities.
Animal law involves almost every discipline, such as contracts, criminal, environmental, family, and tort law. Over the past forty years, animal law has been a growing legal discipline not only in North America, but throughout the world. While legal advocacy for animals exists globally, there have been few efforts to build a unified international alliance. The UIA offers the ideal setting to begin building that much needed alliance, beginning with outreach and education to members and collaboration with other UIA commissions and outside supporters.
The Working Group provides a unique opportunity for building a diverse coalition of lawyers committed to expanding and sharing knowledge of their countries’ laws as they relate to animals and the law. Animals share the planet with us, and the connections between animals, human well-being, and our planet, have never been greater. Moreover, in a defining act, the United Nations recently acknowledged that connection. In March 2022, the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) adopted a resolution noting that “the health and welfare of animals, sustainable development and the environment are connected to human health and well-being.”
This resolution marks the first time a UN body has adopted any measure referencing animal welfare. Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Pakistan, Senegal, and South Sudan were sponsoring states. The resolution calls for the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to draft a report on the nexus between animal welfare, the environment, and sustainable development to be presented at UNEA’s sixth annual meeting in Nairobi in 2024. The Working Group will follow the UN resolution and the many international legal events that occur throughout the year. They will conduct educational seminars, webinars, and forums, open to all UIA members. These programs will vary, covering topics that affect wildlife, farmed animals, and companion animals, and animals used in research or entertainment. Sessions will focus on different areas of the law, such as those impacting human welfare, global agriculture, the environment, and biodiversity.
The opportunities to collaborate with other commissions are many, and the Working Group is pursuing common themes.
Every UIA member can benefit from knowing more about animals and the law. It is imperative that lawyers collaborate to address the universal challenges facing the planet. Not surprisingly, animals are on the front line of many of them – climate change, zoonotic diseases, scientific research, money laundering, and food security to name a few. Animals also touch our daily lives, whether through our animal companions, the food we eat, or the clothes we wear.
Knowing more about animals and the law benefits the legal profession, and lawyers personally and professionally as they seek to make a difference in the world. Communication, to and from members, will be one of the keys to success. Books, papers, and newsletters will be published, along with regular updates and conference calls to keep members engaged and informed. The Working Group leadership will also solicit opinions from its members, and they are building a team of diverse and interested lawyers from every field of law. For more information, visit the webpage on the UIA website or contact Yolanda or Jamie. The Animal Law Commission Working Group looks forward to collaborating with you.
1.United Nations Environment Assembly, Animal Welfare-environment-sustainable development nexus, UNEP/EA.5/Res.1 (Mar. 7, 2022).
By  Yolanda Eisenstein

President of the UIA Animal Law Commission Working Group
Santa Fe, United States