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CASJ Strategic Priorities

The CASJ’s mission is to open the realm of social justice to animals and hence advance animal protection.  Therefore, the CASJ’s core strategic aim is:

To embed animal protection as a core policy goal of the UK Government, international governments and intergovernmental organisations, utilising and developing applied research as a primary tool to achieve this.

Policy goals are, of course, determined by a network of factors and competing interests, including the influence of interest groups, economic considerations, institutional structures and public opinion. Achieving our core strategic aim will depend upon a clear understanding of how all these factors enhance and impede animal protection.  The CASJ therefore seeks to enhance and develop academic capacity in the field of applied animal protection to ensure that high quality research informs policymaking.

Underpinning this activity is a conviction that profound changes in the perception of animals’ status are required by society as a whole and policymakers in particular. While, as detailed below, the CASJ will engage with specific issues directly affecting the wellbeing of animals, we will also seek to foster the paradigm shifts and fundamental political reorientation that is required to achieve and embed animal protection as a core value of social justice.

Drawing on the latest political science, the CASJ believes that the following proposals are likely to hold the key to evolving public policy so that it can start to give animal protection the level of consideration required by mainstream social values and ethical analysis:

• an overarching legal/political status for animals
• the institutional representation of animals’ interests within Government
• a government strategy and targets to improve animal protection

Therefore the CASJ’s priority programmes will involve research and advocacy in these three crucial areas of legal/political status, institutional representation and policy strategy:

1. Animals’ legal/political status: To develop this programme, we will review the academic literature on animals’ moral and legal status, both normative and empirical. We will also examine the implications of Government policy, as well as attitudes amongst MPs, policy-makers, media and public. The ultimate aim of this research is to develop achievable policy proposals which will represent positive change for animals and institutionalise a process with the capacity to continue advancing their legal status.

2. Institutional representation for animals:  The CASJ will investigate how animals can be given a voice within Government, thereby providing a crucial ‘resource’ for animals within the policy process (see box below). To develop this programme we will undertake research relating to the problem of representing interests within the policy process, including examining precedents in other fields and in other countries (e.g. Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Children’s Commissioner) and previous proposals intended to achieve this goal.

3. Policy Strategies for Animal Protection: The CASJ will analyse the relevant academic literature on the role of goals, strategies and targets in reflecting core values and achieving policy change. Previous strategies from the UK, other nation states and supranational bodies will be examined, and the potential of an animal welfare audit to provide crucial knowledge about humankind’s impact on other animals, help set baselines and identify priority areas for action, will be specifically investigated.

Change in these three core areas will alter the overarching framework which profoundly influences what actually happens to hundreds of millions of animals in the specific fields of harmful animal use. But at the same time, the evolution of these specific fields affects animals profoundly in the short term and feeds back into the prospects for deeper change in the three core areas.  For example, the Home Office interpretation of the legal requirement for a “cost-benefit” assessment of applications for animal experiments indicates that the department considers it acceptable to sacrifice animal welfare for relatively trivial research interests. The dominance of this worldview in this policy sector adversely affects the prospects for advancing animals’ fundamental legal status across Government as a whole. The CASJ therefore recognizes that promoting animal protection also requires research and advocacy in the specific policy areas of:  Animals in agriculture, science, captivity, the wild and companion animals.

The Centre for Animals and Social Justice is a charitable company limited by guarantee (No. 7681014) in England and Wales.
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