Declaration of the Rights of Elephants: A Call for Elephant Personhood in India


The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) is excited to share with you a landmark moment for animals in India: the first ever Declaration of the Rights of Elephants!

We have made significant progress with our Personhood for Animals campaign, with the focus presently being on the rights of elephants, considering the rampant abuse they withstand in India, despite their heritage animal status.

This Declaration of Rights, drafted in consultation with national and international academics, philosophers, lawyers and campaigners, represents a brave new world of legally recognizing animals’ inherent value. Elephants cannot be paraded in temples, or forced to beg on the streets, or kept enslaved, not just because it’s cruel, but because it compromises their basic rights. This Declaration will serve as a benchmark of our efforts to campaign for the rights of elephants in courts, with the legislature and the executive.

The Declaration of the Rights of Elephants recognizes that elephants possess:

  1. The right to a dignified life. Elephants feel pain and suffering and are masters of their own will. It is recognized that human beings are not the owners of their lives and cannot deprive them of their right to life and freedom. Moreover, life does not mean mere existence but a quality or dignified life, and human beings cannot deprive elephants of their dignity.
  2. The right to bodily liberty, integrity, and autonomy. Recognition is given to the fact that elephants possess autonomy of acts and thereby are beings of their own will who have the right to liberty and hence must have access to environments where there is freedom to express, without external hindrances, their true personalities and achieve, to the fullest, their natural zest for freedom and growth.
  3. The right against commercial exploitation, torture, cruel and degrading treatment. Human beings are not the masters of nature. For a peaceful coexistence, it is imperative to ensure that no elephant is held in slavery or servitude or made to suffer arbitrarily for the personal or collective gains of human beings.
  4. The right to physical and mental well-being. It is essential to provide an environment which promotes healthy physical and mental well-being for elephants. Human beings cannot, for self-interest, harm the environment, over which no individualistic claim can be made by one species.
  5. The right to interact and socialize with other elephants. Elephants are social beings and hence have the right to interact and socialize, in a natural manner, with others of their own species.
  6. Right to equal consideration of interests. In case the above rights might conflict with the rights of other humans or non-humans, the conflicts will have to be resolved based on the principle of the equal consideration of interests.

Your signatures will help achieve a rightful and dignified life for elephants in India.
Let’s stand for our gentle giants!

Sign the Declaration here!

Featured image: A herd of elephants in a forest. Image credit FIAPO.

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FIAPO is India's apex animal rights organization. As the collective voice of the animal rights movement in India, FIAPO is the catalyst that protects the interests and rights of animals on local and national levels - through education, research, lobbying, mobilization, networking, training and direct action. Created for the movement, by the movement, FIAPO is India’s only national federation. It has over 80 members and over 200 supporter organizations across the country. Click to see author's profile.

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