Sentience on the statute books: Ensuring the concept of animal sentience is understood and represented in UK law following Brexit

Date: 
Friday, November 24, 2017

For animal welfarists an issue of immediate concern relating to Brexit and the UK's devolvement from EU law is the status of animals, in particular recognition of non-human animals as sentient beings in relation to their welfare. The current phrasing within Article 13 of EU Law reads: “In formulating and implementing the Union’s agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animal." Welfare organisations are seeking assurance that the notion of sentience will be protected under new UK laws relating to animal welfare. Below is AWSELVA's official response to the debate. 

"As science-led organisations we are very clear that there is a robust evidence base for animals being sentient and able to experience both positive and negative emotions. We urge Government and policy-makers to explicitly enshrine the concept of animal sentience within UK legislation to ensure all policy and practices pay due regard to it in order to promote good animal welfare. We believe that including the notion of sentience within UK legislation will provide a necessary foundation upon which to build initiatives to achieve the UK Government’s stated aim of being a ‘world leader in animal welfare’. Without formal acknowledgement of animal sentience there is a risk that the welfare needs of some animals in the UK will not be adequately protected, the UK will fall behind other countries in this area and the UK Government will fail in its stated aim."