This Handbook arose out of a partnership between the Dignity Rights Practicum, a course taught by
Professors James R. May and Erin Daly at Widener University Delaware Law School and our project
Partners in 2021:
• The Honorable Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Pakistan Supreme Court
(https://www.supremecourt.gov.pk/judges/honorable-judges/mr-justice-syed-mansoor-alishah/and the Honorable Justice Jawad Hassan, Lahore High Court (https://www.lhc.gov.pk).
• Dignity Media PVT LTD, an independent media house that aims to change the life of Dalit and
Marginalized people. Dignity media is focused on bringing out the issues and also investigate the
issues of Dalit and Marginalized groups, Women, LGBTQI+, religious freedom, migrant workers
and laborers right, etc. whom the mainstream media doesn’t cover.
• SOMRAR (www.somrar.org ). SOMRAR Organization is a humanitarian, non-governmental, nonpolitical, non-profit and non-partisan organization legally registered in the Ministry of National
planning and development in Somaliland. SOMRAR will struggle for improve based human needs
throughout Somaliland. SOMRAR focuses on Poor and Vulnerable women in urban and rural area,
IDPs and returnees both in cities and rural areas.
Contributions to this Handbook were made by students who researched and drafted Part II: Guilherme
Franco, Victoria Partington, Candice Nailli, Kacey Johnson, Nathaniel Belluso, John Howells, Julian BensonReid, and Giulianna Brandalise. Victoria Partington, Nathaniel Belluso, and Candice Nailli also contributed
to editing, and Sarah Plasse contributed to style and formatting. Students in Dignity Law (Spring 2021)
contributed to the Glossary.
The Handbook draws from ERIN DALY, DIGNITY RIGHTS: COURTS, CONSTITUTIONS, AND THE WORTH OF THE HUMAN
PERSON (2d ed. 2020) [hereinafter, Dignity Rights]; ERIN DALY & JAMES R. MAY, DIGNITY LAW: GLOBAL
RECOGNITION, CASES, AND PERSPECTIVES (W.S. Hein 2020) [hereinafter Dignity Casebook]; JAMES R. MAY & ERIN
DALY, ADVANCED INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN DIGNITY AND LAW (Edward Elgar 2020) [hereinafter Advanced
PART ONE: GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF DIGNITY RIGHTS
Human dignity refers to the equal worth of every member of the human family, like a coin that a person has at birth that they can never lose. Every coin is identical in value, but it is unique to each person. Dignity is the foundation of all human activity: our sense of dignity animates how seek to advance well-being and human flourishing, improve the conditions of life, and protect against harm and humiliation. Appreciating human dignity is essential to the protection of human rights and to the spread of a human rights culture. When people own their equal and inalienable human dignity, they can claim their rights, individually and in solidarity with others. Claiming rights is itself an expression of human dignity and, in turn, it prompts the adoption and implementation of policies that allow people to live in greater dignity. Dignity rights are the rights – recognized in international and constitutional law – that flow from the recognition of human dignity. These include civil, political, social, economic, cultural, and environmental rights. Dignity rights exist to protect the value of each person’s unique coin. This Handbook provides tools to engage in the protection of human dignity to help spread a human rights culture and to enhance the ability of people around the world to live with dignity.
PART TWO: THE 4 CORNERS OF DIGNITY RIGHTS
Participation in political decision-making is essential to the expression of human dignity and is likely to contribute to policies that protect human dignity. This aspect of dignity – participatory dignity – reflects the dignity need to express one’s opinions according to one’s conscience and the human capacity to make decisions for oneself and one’s community, not as an object of policy but as a self-fulfilling subject. This Chapter illustrates the reciprocal relationship between dignity and participation in public decision making and shows how international declarations, policies, and court judgments from around the world seek to advance participatory dignity.
PART THREE: LIVING WITH DIGNITY
In this section, we explore cases that address social and economic rights and how they relate to the advancement of human dignity. Social and economic rights express the relationship between people and their government: some states make significant resources available to people, while others leave the satisfaction of most human needs to the private sector. Among the most important decisions a state makes about how it provides for people are in the areas of education, healthcare, the material conditions of living in poverty, and the quality of the natural environment.
PART FOUR: CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Human dignity is an inherent and inalienable quality that gives rise to rights that are non-derogable and absolute; a person’s dignity rights remain intact throughout their lives, including before, during, and after interaction with the criminal justice system of a state. This Chapter describes how human dignity must be respected by public and private authorities in all phases of criminal justice. While most countries protect the dignity rights of those who are arrested, on trial, or incarcerated, few respect those rights in practice.