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Animal Personhood and the Non-Human Rights Project

Mr. Kevin Schneider (Executive Director, Nonhuman Rights Project) visited Kirit P Mehta School of Law - NMIMS for a session with students of second year BA LL.B. (Hons.) & BBA LL.B. (Hons.) students in the subject of Constitution – III. It was held on 30th November, 2017 between 11:00am to 1:00pm in classroom No. 911.

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[Inset: Mr. Kevin Schneider beginning his introductory speech]

Founded in 1996 by attorney Steven M. Wise, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is the only civil rights organization working to achieve actual legal rights for members of species other than our own. Kevin has been a passionate campaigner of NhRP. In addition to his interest in nonhuman rights and personhood, Kevin is an advocate for reforming the food system with a focus on plant-based foods.

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[Inset: from left – Documentary screening; Mr. Schneider addressing the students]

Mr. Schneider initially screened a small 90 minute film on the Non-human Rights campaign that covered the intent of Prof. Steven M. Wise towards securing legal personhood status to Chimpanzees. The documentary broadcasted the hardships and the legal battles on one side and the humiliation of narrow minded people on the other side. The students applauded the attempts by Nonhuman Rights Project in campaigning around the world for animals. Post the session, Mr. Schneider gave his comments and opened for Q & A with the students. When asked why NhRP didn’t take the legislative route, Schneider commented that it is a tedious process as many vested groups will lobby against it and generally it is considered as a low priority affair for any ruling dispensation. Schneider took many questions thereafter. He ended his session with a relief that this project has raised hopes and the legal ambit of Habeas Corpus for animals while they eagerly await the courts verdict in support towards their petition. Mr. Schneider acknowledged the warmth exhibited by the students of KPMSoL to him and the campaign. The session assumes more relevance as India is going through an emerging jurisprudential concept of non-humans as legal entities being debated in the judiciary. This session may have sparked a new possibility for a better tomorrow.

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