Editor’s Note: This declaration, which spells out what it maintains should be the legal rights under international law of whales and dolphins, is a product of the Helsinki Group, formed, as the website issuing the document says, “out of the ‘Cetacean Rights: Fostering Moral and Legal Change Conference,’ held in Helsinki, Finland in May 2010, which was the brainchild of philosopher Dott. Paola Cavalieri” (full name appears to be, Dottoressa Anna Paola Cavalieri). It is our understanding that this has not yet been formally approved, but one article quotes Chris Butler-Stroud of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation society as saying that the ” next step is taking the science and advocating for law in different places, from a regional point of view, from a national point of view, and eventually from a multinational and international view.”


Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins

Based on the principle of the equal treatment of all persons;

Recognizing that scientific research gives us deeper insights into the complexities of cetacean minds, societies and cultures;

Noting that the progressive development of international law manifests an entitlement to life by cetaceans;

We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing.

We conclude that:

1. Every individual cetacean has the right to life.

2. No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.

3. All cetaceans have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.

4. No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual.

5. Cetaceans have the right to the protection of their natural environment.

6. Cetaceans have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.

7. The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.

8. Cetaceans are entitled to an international order in which these rights, freedoms and norms can be fully realized.

9. No State, corporation, human group or individual should engage in any activity that undermines these rights, freedoms and norms.

10. Nothing in this Declaration shall prevent a State from enacting stricter provisions for the protection of cetacean rights.

Done, 22nd May 2010, Helsinki, Finland



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Photo source: “Dolphins 300”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dolphins_300.jpg#/media/File:Dolphins_300.jp

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