The right to dignity is now recognized in most of the world's constitutions, and hardly a new constitution is adopted without it. Over the last sixty years, courts in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and North America have developed a robust jurisprudence of dignity on subjects as diverse as health care, imprisonment, privacy, education, culture, the environment, sexuality, and death. As the range and growing number of cases about dignity attest, it is invoked and recognized by courts far more frequently than other constitutional guarantees. Dignity Rights is the first book to explore the constitutional law of dignity around the world. Erin Daly shows how dignity has come not only to define specific interests like the right to humane treatment or to earn a living wage, but also to protect the basic rights of a person to control his or her own life and to live in society with others. Daly argues that, through the right to dignity, courts are redefining what it means to be human in the modern world. As described by the courts, the scope of dignity rights marks the outer boundaries of state power, limiting state authority to meet the demands of human dignity. As a result, these cases force us to reexamine the relationship between the individual and the state and, in turn, contribute to a new and richer understanding of the role of the citizen in modern democracies.
Chapter 1. "Of All Members of the Human Family"
Chapter 2. "Not . . . a Mere Plaything"
Chapter 3. "The Minimum Necessities of Life"
Chapter 4. "Master of One's Fate"
Chapter 5. "What Respect Is Due"
Chapter 6. "The Beginning and the End of the State"
Erin Daly is Professor of Law at Widener University in Wilmington, Delaware, specializing in American and comparative constitutional law. She is a member of the American Society of International Law and the U.S. Association of Constitutional Law. Jeremy Sarkin is Senior Professor of Law at the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. A former acting judge in the Cape High Court, his recent books include Carrots and Sticks: The TRC and the South African Amnesty Process and The Administration of Justice: Comparative Perspectives.
"Human dignity has a long history. It has been recognized in various religions and has served as the basis for a variety of philosophical outlooks. The essential nature of the concept is sharply debated. Some see it as a paramount constitutional value and a central constitutional right. Others see it as a concept void of any content and having no constitutional use. Against the background of these sharp disputes, Erin Daly's book comes as a breath of fresh air. It sets before the reader the broad comparative base; points out the key problems that arise; and outlines the principal lines of thought and their development. . . . It treats all of these matters comprehensively and clearly, making an important and original contribution."
~From the Foreword by Aharon Barak
"Readers interested in how ideas of dignity have evolved in court cases will find this book illuminating. Erin Daly admirably succeeds in showing how courts have given concrete meaning to this unbounded concept in particular cases."
~Rebecca Cook, University of Toronto