Constitutional Inclusion of Animal Rights in Germany and Switzerland: How Did Animal Protection Become an Issue of National Importance?
An Animal Rights Article from


Animals and Society Institute (ASI) as posted on
August 2014

Provisions for animal rights have been included in the national constitutions of Switzerland (1992, 2000) and Germany (2002).

Protective constitutional inclusion is a major social movement success, and in view of the other movements also seeking increased political visibility and responsiveness, it is worth asking how and why nonhuman animals were allowed into this realm of political importance.

This research seeks to explain how animal activists achieved this significant goal in two industrialized democracies.

Using an approach drawn from the mainstream canon on social movements, this comparative study attempts to show how cultural factors, institutional selectivity, and the influence of spontaneous events, along with the tactic of “frame-bridging,” determined the success of both movements.

This study examines the process through which animal rights activists in Germany and Switzerland achieved constitutional inclusion of animal rights. The influence of cultural and institutional contexts is illuminated by an examination of the way animal rights activists navigated and utilized those contexts to achieve their demands. In both cases, strategic framing, specifically frame-bridging—used to connect animal protection with existing public opinion—proved integral to successful constitutional reform. But the broader implications of this study include how the context of animal protec- tion demands can narrow and mold animal rights movement demands to fit the institutional status quo. This selectivity could stifle the movement by cre- ating innocuous policies ineffective for changing the way that people relate to nonhuman animals as supposedly nonsentient objects (Francione, 1995, 2008). The effect of this dependency on institutional paths is that “animal welfare advocacy is easily absorbed by current systems of domination” (Best & Nocella, 2004, p. 13).

This project involves discussion in two phases: first, how activists achieved constitutional reform and second, the pragmatic effects of that reform. Due to the broad scope of the project, I am focusing, in this first phase, on how animal rights activists navigated the political and cultural context to achieve constitutional reform and how the context steered that demand in specific directions. The second phase, looking at the effects of constitutional reform, is forthcoming.  

See entire 19-page article here (PDF)

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