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Faculty of Law Center for Animal Law and Ethics(CALE)

Symposium: Accelerating Replacement: Toward Animal-free Science Research at Swiss Universities

Organizer: Prof. Dr. Maneesha Deckha, Visiting Scholar at the University of Zurich's Faculty of Law, affiliated with the Center for Animal Law and Ethics (CALE)


In 2021, the Swiss Federal Council launched “Advancing 3R – Animals, Research and Society”, emphasizing the need to innovate to reduce the number of animals used in science and lessen the harms they experience, as well as prioritize replacement of animals altogether.[1] The Council directed the Swiss National Science Foundation to establish a National Research Programme to further these ends. National Research Programme 79 (NRP79) recognizes that views about animal experimentation are changing, and that new technologies are emerging, such that renewed reflection on the continued paradigm of animal experimentation is required. The SNSF has also pressed the need for actual results in advancing the 3Rs, including “new and improved tools and methods”, “strategies”, “identification of barriers,” and “demonstrated uptake of 3R tools and methods at all levels”.[2] They have called for research deliberations that, among other goals, consider the “broader relevance” of 3Rs in terms of considering a “conceptual shift from animal experiments as a rule to animal experiments as an exception.”[3] The European Commission has also recently indicated its willingness to “modernise science in the EU” and “continue to strongly support the development of alternative approaches in order to accelerating phasing out animal testing”.[4]

The Symposium ‘Accelerating Replacement: Toward Animal-free Science Research at Swiss Universities is intended to bring together legal, ethics, policy, and scientific experts to discuss, within a productive framework, how replacement of animal models in scientific experimentation can be accelerated. The symposium aims to produce recommendations and a policy report to inspire and support Swiss universities (and potentially others) to reframe experimentation in line with the SNSF call.[5] The outcomes of the symposium are also intended to increase public understanding in Switzerland and elsewhere of the ethics of contemporary animal research and the existence of other models. The symposium will take place at the Collegium Helveticum at ETH Zurich and is by invitation only.

The Symposium will be followed by a scholarly paper workshop for works-in-progress applying critical theory to the replacement principle in relation to policy and law reform. For the workshop, symposium participants are invited to contribute a scholarly paper separate from the Symposium. This session will also be open to select students at UZH, ETH, and fellows at the Collegium Helveticum (see Call for Papers)

[2] Call document NRP 79 “Advancing 3R” at 9, 12,

[3] Ibid at 13.

[4] European Commission, “Commission acts to accelerate phasing out of animal testing”,
[5] For example, Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht have established a Transition to Animal-Free Innovations working group and have had a research chair focused on alternatives to animal testing since 2000; in 2023, the Utrecht University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine established the Evidence-Based Transition to Animal-free Innovations: And Massey University/Te Kunenga Ki Purehuroa as part of the University of New Zealand has recently expressed its support for replacement as the first paragraph on its Animal Ethics webpage: