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Effective Advocacy: An Ethical Framework

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“…speciesism is made stronger by racism, which is made stronger by sexism, which is made stronger by heterosexism, ableism, and on and on. But instead of being ordered in sequence, each node of oppression is connected to every other node, creating a very strong and resilient system.”
~ Michelle Rojas-Soto

It’s clear that the fates of humans, nonhuman animals, and the planet are intertwined.

The systems of structural violence and inequity that exist equally threaten the health and wellbeing of humans, animals, and the planet. And we won’t fully dismantle the injustices humans suffer without deconstructing the same problems that lead to animal suffering and planetary destruction.

Because of this interconnectedness, the solutions and strategies we pursue must seek to advance the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet—not to benefit one while harming another.

Effective advocacy is built on a foundation that includes a comprehensive ethical framework.

This ethical framework encompasses who we are as global citizens, what we understand about the world and its other inhabitants, and how we can act with consistent ethical principles and moral courage.

The ethical framework includes embracing a comprehensive ethical worldview and operating from the highest ethical standards.

Embrace a Comprehensive Ethical Worldview

An effective advocate embraces a worldview that

  • recognizes the interconnectedness of people, animals, and the planet and how our fates are intertwined;
  • cultivates an ecocentric, rather than egocentric, mindset;
  • practices empathy and compassion for other human and nonhuman beings;
  • requires that solutions, systems, and societies advance the rights, health, wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet;
  • promotes nonviolent strategies and solutions.

Operate from the Highest Ethical Standards

An effective advocate strives to operate from the highest ethical standards by

  • practicing integrity, humility, compassion, empathy, honesty, accountability, moral courage, and other ideal values;
  • ensuring that their work is accurate, credible, and evidence-based;
  • making daily choices and engaging in actions that support the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet.

Pyramid of biological needs and basic rights

Principles such as respect for liberty and sovereignty; love, tolerance, and compassion; justice, hope, and opportunity; and dignity are all increasingly seen as biological needs that promote wellbeing for humans and nonhuman animals.

And there is an increasing recognition that human, animal, and environmental health and wellbeing, and even basic rights, cannot be separated from one another.

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