It is in wonder and awe that we gaze at the great diversity of life on our planet. The seas are the heart's blood of the earth, the habitat of other species, endowed with other intelligences, that are self aware and demand ethical treatment by us, not least because cetaceans have knowingly saved human lives.
Anyone who has ever seen a whale or dolphin in the wild would undoubtedly state that the experience was magical and had an uplifting spiritual effect on him or her. Whales and dolphins have been celebrated in human art and folk tales for thousands of years. They live by movement we may never see or hear but this Charter deems that they are not mere resources and recognises they are unique beings, having intrinsic value, irrespective of their utilitarian value to humans. They are, in fact, other tribes or nations caught in the web of life.
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Bestowing on the cetacean family considerations and rights thereby challenges the present threats to them. This Charter therefore is a great leap forward for the collective consciousness of humanity and proudly and unreservedly pronounces Cetacea have a right to their liberty and life.
Cetacea Defence thanks Sarah Chambers, Cara Sands, Elizabeth Turner and Pamela Kelly for reading the original draft and offering comments and suggestions, some of which have been incorporated into the text.
Proclaims this world Charter for Cetacea as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Charter constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights, freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.
The predecessors of Cetacea lived over fifty million years ago. This Charter recognises that in the last hundreds of years some current species of the whale and dolphin family have become critically endangered and that human activities affect all species of this family. Recognising that future generations of humans will undoubtedly be critical of this generation, if we fail to act now, to save endangered species of whale and dolphin.
The cetacean family are highly evolved in brain size and structure, adapted for a marine existence. They are sentient, warm-blooded mammals, endowed with reason and with the right to unrestricted movement. Capture from their environment to supply dolphinaria is an immoral and cruel practice. Therefore not one single cetacean shall be held in confinement or forced into servitude.
It is recognised that the order of Cetacea is unique, as are individuals within it. There are many threats to the cetacean family. These are all human induced either directly or indirectly; whaling; directed kills of smaller cetaceans; captivity (dolphinaria); fishing net entanglement; military use of sonar; industrial pollution; depletion of fish stocks caused by human over-fishing; global warming. Immediate efforts to end all threats to cetaceans should be made by all signatories.
The top predators of the cetacean family are humans. The future survival of Cetacea is therefore dependent on our willingness to change our destructive behaviour and attitude. The human family must endeavour to live in harmony with cetaceans and recognise their right to life and liberty.