Rights of Non-Human Persons
The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) is committed to the idea that some non-human animals meet the criteria of legal personhood and thus are deserving of specific rights and protections.

Mission Statement
Owing to advances in several fields, including the neurosciences, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the human species no longer can ignore the rights of non-human persons. A number of non-human animals, including the great apes, cetaceans (i.e. dolphins and whales), elephants, and parrots, exhibit characteristics and tendencies consistent with that of a person's traits like self-awareness, intentionality, creativity, symbolic communication, and many others. It is a moral and legal imperative that we now extend the protection of 'human rights' from our species to all beings with those characteristics.

The IEET, as a promoter of non-anthropocentric personhood ethics, defends the rights of non-human persons to live in liberty, free from undue confinement, slavery, torture, experimentation, and the threat of unnatural death. Further, the IEET defends the right of non-human persons to live freely in their natural habitats, and when that's not possible, to be given the best quality of life and welfare possible in captivity (such as sanctuaries).

Specifically, through the Rights of Non-Human Persons program, the IEET works to:
  • Investigate and refine definitions of personhood and those criteria sufficient for the recognition of non-human persons.
  • Facilitate and support further research in the neurosciences for the improved understanding and identification of those cognitive processes, functions and behaviors that give rise to personhood.
  • Educate and persuade the public on the matter, spread the word, and increase awareness of the idea that some animals are persons.
  • Produce evidence and fact-based argumentation in favor of non-human animal personhood to support the cause and other like-minded groups and individuals.

Program Director: Rights of Non-Human Persons

George Dvorsky
, who serves on the Board of Directors for the IEET and heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program, is Canada's leading agenda-driven futurist/activist.

The suggestion that we confer human-level rights to non-human persons is an idea whose time has come.

IEET Rights of Non-Human Persons News

Non-Human PersonsRights of Non-Human Persons List - Discussion of issues relevant to the protection of rights for certain non-human beings.

Resources Below is a beginning set of resources for gaining background and learning more about issues of concern to the IEET's Rights of Non-Human Persons program.

Key Rights Links

Nonhuman Rights Project (Steven M. Wise)

The Great Ape Project

Animal Legal Defense Fund

International Marine Mammal Project for the Earth Island Institute

WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals)

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)


Animal Defenders International

Declaration for Rights of Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins

Books (non-fiction)

Animal Liberation, Peter Singer (1975)

Primate Visions, Donna Haraway (1990)

Simians, Cyborgs and Women, Donna Haraway (1990)

The Great Ape Project, Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer (1993)

Kanzi: The Ape at the Brink of the Human Mind, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Roger Lewin (1996)

The Origins of Language: What Nonhuman Primates Can Tell Us, Robbins Burling, Iain Davidson, Kathleen Gibson, and Stephen Jessee (1999)

Rattling the Cage, Steven M. Wise (2000)

Apes, Language, and the Human Mind, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh (2001)

Drawing the Line, Steven M. Wise (2002)

Minding Animals, Marc Bekoff (2002)

When Species Meet, Donna Haraway (2007)

Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation, Gary L. Francione (2008)

Animal Bodies, Human Minds: Ape, Dolphin, and Parrot Language Skills, W.A. Hillix and Duane Rumbaugh (2010)

Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint, Marc Bekoff (2010)

In Defense of Dolphins, Thomas I. White (2007)

Books (fiction)

The World of Ptavvs, Larry Niven (1966)

Uplift Saga, David Brin (1985-1997)

I, Rowboat, Cory Doctorow (2006)

Next, Michael Crichton (2007)

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