Human dignity recognizes the equal and inalienable value of every member of the human family.
The Dignity Rights Project sets dignity in action through public and professional education, advocacy, and support for high-impact lawyering.
Human dignity is incorporated in most of the world's constitutions and in international law from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) to the Sustainable Development Goals (2015). And yet, throughout the world, dignity is compromised, impaired, violated, and continually tested in ways that affect real people in real ways; among the most vulnerable to violations of human dignity are indigenous people, climate and war refugees, victims of domestic and political violence, and those who defend and advocate for them. The Dignity Rights Project works in tandem with legal, academic, non-profit, community-based organizations in all parts of the world to advance the human right to dignity in three principal ways:
EDUCATION: Public education, legal education, and professional training and workshop programs, and scholarship on dignity-related questions.
ADVOCACY: Coordination and collaboration with governments, communities and members of civil society including dignity rights assessments.
ACTION: Consultation, research, fact-finding, brief-writing, and oral argument for potential and ongoing litigation.
We engage students, lawyers, and activists in a global conversation about the right to human dignity.
The Dignity Rights Project works with partners locally and around the world to advance knowledge and capacity-building around the right to human dignity.
Recent and upcoming projects include:
Erin Daly is Professor of Law, Widener University Delaware Law School (USA), and Vice President, Institutional Development, UNIFA (Université de la Fondation Aristide) in Haiti. She is the author of Dignity Rights: Courts, Constitutions, and the Worth of the Human Person (Penn Constitution and Democracy Series) and the co-author of Reconciliation in Divided Societies: Finding Common Ground (Penn Series on Human Rights). She also directs the Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment. She was interim dean of the Law School 2013-2015.
James R. May is Distinguished Professor of Law, Widener University Delaware Law School. He is the editor of Principles of Constitutional Environmental Law (ABA 2011) and co-editor of Shale Gas and the Future of Energy (Edward Elgar 2016). A former clinical director, he has litigated more than 100 cases, mostly involving environmental matters.
Together, May and Daly have written and edited numerous books including:
Jointly and separately, they have also written numerous articles and chapters on environmental law, comparative constitutional and international law, and transitional justice.
Ana Lucia Maya Aguirre, Baranquilla, Colombia
Annie Booth, University of Northern British Columbia, Canada
Lisa Chamberlain, Center for Applied Legal Studies, University of Witswatersrand, South Africa (Advisory Council)
Dennis Coker, Lenape Indian Tribe, Delaware, U.S.
Catherine Dupré, Exeter, U.K. (Advisory Council)
Angela Kariuki, United Nations Environment, Kenya (Advisory Council)
Stephen L. Kass, Carter Ledyard & Milburn, New York, U.S. (Advisory Council)
Stephan Sonnenberg, Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law (JSW Law), Bhutan
Chester Environmental Partnership, Chester, U.S.
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti/Bureau des Avocats Internationales, Boston, U.S. and Port-au-Prince, Haiti
PILnet, New York, U.S.
United Nations Environment (formerly UNEP)
Université de la Fondation Aristide, Tabarre, Haiti
“Human dignity refers to the inherent humanness of each person. It is not an attribute or an interest to be protected or advanced, like liberty or equality or a house or free speech. Rather, human dignity is the essence of our being, without which we would not be human. Human dignity recognizes and reflects the equal worth of each and every member of the human family, regardless of gender, race, social or political status, talents, merit, or any other differentiator.”
--Erin Daly and James R. May, Dignity Rights: A Synopsis (2017)