Finland: MP Proposes Inclusion of Animal Rights in the Constitution

MP Mai Kivelä.

Nov 11, 2022

Member of Finnish Parliament Mai Kivelä (Left Alliance) has filed a legislative motion to include fundamental animal rights in the Constitution of Finland.

“The premise of the Finnish legislation is that the wellbeing of animals is virtually always subordinate to the possibilities of humans to use them as commodities. This is the exact reason why we need this amendment to our Constitution”, states Kivelä.

If successful, the motion will secure various constitutional rights to animals. For instance, wild animals will receive the right to life and the right to live in freedom.

“We already have a chapter in our constitution on the protection of the fundamental rights for human beings, and we need a clause that states this also for other sentient individuals”, Kivelä says.

The motion is based on a proposal originally drafted by the Finnish Animal Rights Law Society: https://www.elaintenvuoro.fi/english/



In 2015 Dr. Anna Birgitta Wahlberg reached out to colleagues to draft a proposal of constitutional animal rights. The final team would consist of Wahlberg (University Lecturer of Public Law, Åbo Akademi University); Dr Visa AJ Kurki (Associate Professor of Jurisprudence University of Helsinki); Dr Tarja Koskela (University Lecturer, University of Eastern Finland); Ms Susanna Pirilä (LL.M).; Mr Albert Jäntti (law student, University of Helsinki); and Mr Roope Kanninen (law student, University of Lapland).

During 2016–2017 the team drafted the proposed constitutional amendment on the fundamental rights of animals.

The aim was to:

1) define what the recognition of animal sentience that is laid down in the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union art. 13 means in Finland,

2) to make concrete what fundamental rights of animals on the constitutional level would mean, and

3) to lay down the Principle of Precaution, the Principle of Necessity, and the Principle of Proportionality in the context of animal rights.

The first draft of the amendment was sent to experts for comments. After this, the non-profit organization Finnish Animal Rights Law Society was established on Valentine’s Day 2018.  Today, the membership of the organization comprises over one hundred lawyers and legal scholars; it is also supported by many private people in Finland.

The Bill consists of five main sections: (1) Protection of Animals, (2) Safeguarding Fundamental Animal Rights, (3) Fundamental Rights of Wild Animals, (4) Fundamental Rights of Animals Dependent on Human Care, and (5) Prohibition of Animal Breeding.

For example, the proposal would impose a constitutional obligation upon public authorities to safeguard the substantive fundamental rights of animals.

For more information:

Mai Kivelä: mai.kivela(at)eduskunta.fi

Finnish Animal Rights Law Society: info(at)elaintenvuoro.fi