The World Moot on International Law and Animal Rights (WMILAR)

By Ankita Shanker, Angie Vega, Dulki Seethawaka, Altamush Saeed, Cheslyn Ceaser, & Michaela Tafani

Where We Were, Where We Are

A year ago, the WMILAR was a one-woman show. A year ago, its Founder did not dare dream they would be anywhere near where they are today. A year ago, the WMILAR was a vision.

But now, the WMILAR team has around 20 committed professionals from every corner of the world. Now, it is hosted by circa 15 leading law schools in various countries. On 15 February 2024, the WMILAR launch featured talks from key figures in animal protection, including the Peter Singer… Now, the WMILAR is poised to be a new bastion of the animal rights movement.

From Moot to Movement

The WMILAR has clear objectives: spread awareness of legal issues surrounding animal protection, train future generations of lawyers to effectively advocate for animal interests, build capacity in mooting and Animal Law all over the world, and promote the unified development of International Animal Rights Law.

With its mission to secure a fair and sustainable future for all sentient life, the WMILAR employs various strategic initiatives.

The WMILAR is an exciting and transformative enterprise that enhances legal experiential learning. We at the WMILAR believe that equipping the next generation of animal rights lawyers with both knowledge and skills is crucial to the success of our animal advocacy movement.

Therefore, the WMILAR provides comprehensive training to mooters and coaches, along with facilitating convenient access to moot court competitions organised all around the world. We want to foster a robust mooting culture in Animal Rights Law through focused training on conducting and teaching effective advocacy, and through participation in moot court competitions to further develop and test advocacy skills.

Dynamics and Outcomes

Concretely, the trainings and competition will be organised as follows.

Handpicked experts in mooting/moot training/advocacy will come together to conduct two three-day training courses in each region of the WMILAR: one on mooting, and the other on coaching mooters. This will be a fantastic opportunity for participants in the training course to learn from a wide array of experts, who will provide global and regional perspectives.

Moot court competition participants will get to present their legal arguments on International Law and animal rights to a panel of Animal Law experts from academia and industry, who will judge their oral submissions. Participants’ written submissions will already have been evaluated by expert evaluators by this stage. The winning team from each of the eight regions will go on to compete internationally in the finals.

The WMILAR thus offers a unique platform for law students to learn and apply new legal theories and doctrine in arguing on behalf of animals in courtrooms worldwide, while sharpening their written and oral advocacy skills. By offering specialised training from a diverse cohort of top experts and the opportunity to apply their learnings in a cross-border competition, the WMILAR will equip students to succeed in an increasingly global legal market. All this is particularly important in regions where practical educational experience might be developing.

Substantively, participating in the competition will provide students with a nuanced understanding of the intersection between the law and the global concerns it can (and should) be instrumental in addressing, especially animal rights. Through their advocacy in our forums, participants not only amplify the discourse on animal protection but also learn to contribute to fostering legal frameworks that prioritise the well-being of animals on a global scale. Given the emphasis on International Law, participants will be able to learn about, train in, and argue on a variety of global concerns and how they can and should influence and interact with each other. The interaction of participants’ arguments, augmented by judicial intervention, will enrich these debates, laying the groundwork for holistic and well-informed legal approaches and strategies.

Contributions to Legal Developments

Through all this, the WMILAR also has a role to play in developing Animal Rights Law, domestic and international. Animal Rights Law is on the rise worldwide, but its formation is disconnected. And both as a cause and result of this fragmentation, there is little to no global dialogue on priorities, strategies, or legal directions. For instance, the rights and well-being of domesticated animals are key concerns in Northern America and Europe, while Latin American efforts have focused more on wild animals, generally in the context of the rights of nature. Africa, Asia, and Oceania have seen a good mix of both priorities and strategies. However, most animal rights concerns are universal, and there is much that lawyers and judges in different jurisdictions can learn from one another. Moreover, Animal Rights Law must develop in an integrated manner to introduce certainty of legal principles and promote the emergence of general principles of law that can apply in the context of animal rights and personhood. The WMILAR aims to pioneer International Animal Rights Law through the unification of such noble animal rights jurisprudence globally.

In Conclusion

The WMILAR is not just about individual growth but also about collective effort. Its global model contributes to the diversification of legal education and the unified development of the field, where students are provided with the knowledge and space to think creatively in the crafting and presentation of clear, compelling arguments to advance animal rights before judges.

The WMILAR is thus a step forward in transforming legal practice to include nonhuman animals. The law students of today are the lawyers of tomorrow who will be entrusted with advocating for animal rights in domestic and transnational courts. Organisations and initiatives such as the WMILAR help spread awareness about animal rights and their place among global concerns as a subject-matter of legal regulation and adjudication.

It is fair to say that the WMILAR has certainly come a long way. And we have a long way left to go. So, join us, as we try to make the world a safer and kinder place for all sentient life.






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