The project team currently consists of five researchers at the University of Helsinki: Visa Kurki, Tero Kivinen, Veera Koponen, Veerle Platvoet and Marina Baptista and research assistant Nina Järvinen. Furthermore, Birgitta Wahlberg, Tarja Koskela, Carolina Leiva Ilabaca and Eva Bernet Kempers are academic collaborators within the project.
Visa A.J. Kurki

Dr Visa AJ Kurki is the Principal Investigator of the project. His work covers animal law theory and legal philosophy more generally. His particular expertise is on the topic of legal personhood, on which he has published the monograph A Theory of Legal Personhood (OUP 2019). He works currently as an Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Fellow at the Law Faculty of the University of Helsinki.


Personal website

Tero Kivinen

Tero Kivinen is a late-stage doctoral researcher working for the project. His 2014 master’s thesis explored the ethics of international animal regulation whereas his forthcoming doctoral dissertation will provide a rhetorical criticism of animal law discourse. Over the course of the project, Kivinen seeks to further utilize rhetorical theory in order to better understand the inner workings of animal law as well as develop alternative lines of argument for improving the legal and societal status of animals. His prior research interests include public international law, space law, and media law.

Veera Koponen

Veera Koponen is a doctoral researcher in the project. She graduated in 2020 with a Master’s thesis on the prohibition to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal and the criteria of necessity. Continuing and widening the themes of her Master’s thesis, her doctoral dissertation focuses on welfarism as a cornerstone of Finnish animal law. Koponen aims to determine the general principles of Finnish animal law and to find a balance between animal welfare and human rights.

Veerle Platvoet

Veerle Platvoet started in 2022 as a doctoral researcher in the project. She obtained a Master's degree in global environmental law and policy experience in animal welfare. In her research she aims to connect environmental law and animal law by focussing on animal welfare in conservation law and how the pluralistic views on animals in conservation impact their legal status.  

Marina Baptista

Marina Baptista started as a PhD student in the project in 2022. In her master's thesis, she examined the strengths and weaknesses of EU animal law and proposed a pathway for higher animal welfare in the post-Brexit UK, considering the threats and opportunities brought up by the withdrawal from the EU. Her doctoral research focuses on the constitutional rights of animals and their connection with the prevalent property regime. She seeks to look closely at the Brazilian case to understand how the implementation of this type of right interacts with the welfarist structure and the broader theory on animal rights in general.

Nina Järvinen

Nina Järvinen is a Research Assistant in the project. Nina started in the project in January 2023 and she is studying law and aesthetics at the University of Helsinki.

Birgitta Wahlberg

Dr. Soc. Sc. (public law) Birgitta Wahlberg works as a university teacher of public law at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics, Åbo Akademi University, Finland. Her field of expertise is animal law in general and animal law as a jurisprudential subject of law. Wahlberg has published the first animal law textbook in Finland (Inledning till djurskyddslagstiftningen i Finland 2014), and several articles about animal law issues. As an academic her main interest is to develop animal law and animal law teaching on university level, and to ensure the recognition of animals' fundamental rights on the constitutional level. She is co-founder and president of the Finnish Animal Rights Lawyers' Society, and she has also founded the Global Journal of Animal Law, published by Åbo Akademi University.

Tarja Koskela

Dr Tarja Koskela (LL.D. Criminal Law) is a senior lecturer and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland. In her dissertation (February 2017) she studied the optimal protection of animals in the criminal procedure and the public administration. Koskela teaches in addition to criminal law and criminal procedure law, animal law and animal welfare supervision at the University of Eastern Finland.  She also teaches animal law at the Police University College, the University of Helsinki and the Åbo Akademi and wrote a textbook for the police: “Animal as an Object of a Crime”. In her research, she is focused on animal law. She is one of the founder members of the Finnish Animal Rights Law Society.

Carolina Leiva Ilabaca

Carolina Leiva Ilabaca is a collaborator and former visitor at the ANIWERE Project. She is a Chilean Lawyer, she holds a Masters in Animal Law and Society from the University Autonomous of Barcelona (UAB) and she is a PHD in Law candidate at the University of Chile and at the UAB. In her doctoral research, she explores the role of non-human animals in Criminal Law in general and, particularly, among the victim status, work funded by the National Agency of Research and Development (ANID, Chile). Since 2022, she is an Associate Lecturer of Criminal Law at the University Autonomous of Barcelona (UAB).

Eva Bernet Kempers

Eva Bernet Kempers is a collaborator/former visitor of the ANIWERE-project. She holds a MA and LLM from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and is currently finishing her PhD at the Animal & Law Chair of the University of Antwerp in Belgium, focusing on the concept of animal dignity. She visited ANIWERE in Spring 2022 and stayed with the project for two months.