Human beings are recognized as persons and protected in law by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by all governments to varying degrees. Non-human primates are not classified as persons, which largely means their individual interests have no formal recognition or protection. The status of non-human primates has generated much debate, particularly through the Great Ape Project (GAP), which argues that great apes (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos) be given limited legal status and the protection of three basic interests: the right to live, the protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture.
On June 25, 2008, Spain became the first country to announce that it will extend rights to the great apes in accordance with GAP's proposals. An all-party parliamentary group advised the government to write legislation giving chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans the right to life, to liberty, and the right not to be used in experiments. The New York Times reported that the legislation will make it illegal to kill apes, except in self-defense. "Torture," which will include medical experiments, will be not allowed, as will arbitrary imprisonment, such as for circuses or films.
An increasing number of other governments are enacting bans. As of 2006, Austria, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK had introduced either de jure or de facto bans. The ban in Sweden does not extend to non-invasive behavioral studies, and graduate work on Great Ape cognition in Sweden continues to be carried out on zoo gorillas, and supplemented by studies of chimpanzees held in the U.S. Sweden's legislation also bans invasive experiments on gibbons.
In December 2005, Austria outlawed experiments on any apes, unless it is conducted in the interests of the individual animal. In 2002, Belgium announced that it was working toward a ban on all primate use, and in the UK, 103 MPs signed an Early Day Motion calling for an end to primate experiments, arguing that they cause suffering and are unreliable. No licenses have been issued in the UK since 1998. The Boyd Group, a British group comprising animal researchers, philosophers, primatologists, and animal advocates, has recommended a global prohibition on the use of great apes.
Read more about this topic: Animal Testing On Non-human Primates
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