Human Rights and Animal Ethics Research Network (HRAE) is an interdisciplinary network, whose major objective is to play a leading role in the new global field of Human-Animal Studies (HAS) that has achieved international prominence in the past two decades. HRAE brings together academics from a range of disciplines including the arts, science, law, philosophy and politics. HRAE sees the question of justice for human and nonhuman animals as intimately related to key issues such as the quality of life for all, justice, climate change, species extinction, sustainability and the future of the planet.
Justice Michael Kirby officially launched HRAE on 15 March 2013 to a large gathering of people from the University and the general public. Justice Kirby spoke of his personal commitment to justice for animals. The launch was held at the Melbourne Law School. Other speakers included Dr Alasdair Cochrane (University of Sheffield), who spoke on human and animal rights, Ms Jenny Gray (CEO, Zoos Victoria) who spoke on species extinction and the importance of conservation, and Professor Barbara Creed (Director of HRAE) who discussed the relationship between human rights and animal ethics. Dr Siobhan O'Sullivan, a leading advocate for animal justice, chaired the event.
HRAE supports the view of Nobel-prize winning scientist Paul Crutzen that we have entered a new age, called the Anthropocene, which humans have created, that is, human activities have exerted a profound and possibly lasting impact on the Earth's ecosystems and by implication all forms of life on the planet. HRAE believes that the question of social justice for all species is now a central issue in the Age of the Anthropocene.
Finally, HRAE believes that both ethics and empathy are closely intertwined and together play a crucial role in the struggle for justice for all creatures - human and nonhuman. Ethics alone cannot help us to determine how we should live. Empathy for all living creatures is also crucial in determining the way in which we engage with the world and its myriad of life-forms.