Animal law in practice: A legitimate way to prevent animal suffering, or a tool to justify, conceal and expand the systemic exploitation of animals?

The institution of law is typically understood as that element of an implied social contract that ensures a just and stable society. More critical views of law argue that it entrenches privilege and moderates dissent, thereby maintaining present social injustices. The legal instruments which purport to protect animals from harm is only one aspect of the body of law we refer to as "animal law". The effectiveness of these protections is a matter of significant dispute and so too are the efficacy and desirability of anti-cruelty statutes. Many advocates for a more just relationship with animals argue that such law frustrates real reform - by creating and maintaining the perception that the use of animals for human ends is not only a social good, but is competently moderated in ways that ensure no ‘unnecessary suffering', 'humane slaughter' and the ‘five freedoms’ for animals.

This webinar will unpack the philosophical issues at the heart of this debate, and identify the way the law works in practice to either protect animals from harm, or to normalise and perpetuate multiple different types of material harm. The discussion will look at some international examples of animal law in practice, before considering this question in a South African context, with a specific focus on the role of the Constitution in framing this debate.


25 September 2024, 14:00 to 16:00 SAST

Who will benefit from this webinar?

All persons interested in the philosophy and ethics of animal protection, legal scholars, persons working in life sciences disciplines, as well as advocates for animal protection.


Tony Gerrans lives in Cape Town South Africa, and has worked in government, private business and the not-for-profit sector, primarily in the agricultural and animal welfare fields. As a Principal Planner in the Restitution Research Directorate of the South African Department of Land Affairs, he was part of the team researching and advising the post-apartheid Commission on Restitution of Land Rights on the legal validity of land restitution claims filed by victims of South Africa’s racially-based ‘separate development’ policy. He has also served as a trustee of the Humane Education Trust, the South African affiliate of Compassion in World Farming, and currently serves as legal advisor on the Cape Animal Welfare Forum. Tony is now working with Humane Society International as the Executive Director of African operations directing work across Africa which seeks to protect wildlife, farmed animals, companion animals, and animals used in testing. He has a specific interest in animal law, holds a Masters degree in Animal Law from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, and has presented on animal law topics at events in the USA, across Africa and China. Tony was a 2021 Centre for Animal Law Studies Ambassador and a Visiting Fellow at the Animal Law and Policy Program at Harvard Law School in 2023.

How much?

R780 per person

How to sign up

Complete and submit the registration form. You will then be given the payment information. Please note that registrations will not be considered complete until payment has been made.

One or two days before the webinar, we will send you the Zoom link. You will need to register and use a password to enter the webinar.

Registrations close three days before the webinar.

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