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Virtual Workshop Commemorates 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights


The Delaware Law School Dignity Rights Project sponsored the 4th in a series of Virtual Workshops, this one commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948.  In affirming that recognition of human dignity is the foundation of peace, justice, and freedom in the world, the Declaration was the first global legal instrument to value the inherent dignity of all "members of the human family." The Virtual Workshop, held on November 30th, consisted of a 2-hour conversation with participants and observers from Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States examining how the right to human dignity has evolved in the 70 years since the Declaration was adopted.  Topics ranged from the influence of dignity on the succeeding constitutions of Pakistan to the challenges of implementation of the right to human dignity in Haiti, to the evolving language of dignity rights around the world, and more.  

A keynote address was provided by Dr. Isabella Bunn, of Regents College, Oxford University, and closing remarks were provided by Stephen Kass, a prominent environmental and human rights attorney in New York who said that "dignity is an idea whose time has come." 

The Workshop, which was cost-free and carbon-free, also featured contributions from two Delaware Law students, Simone Berman-Perlstein '20 and Sara Evans '19, as well as remarks from Delaware Law School Dean Rodney Smolla.  The program was organized by Professors Jim May and Erin Daly, co-directors of the Dignity Rights Project at Delaware Law School. 

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.  The Dignity Rights Project engages students, lawyers, and activists in a global conversation about the right to human dignity.

From their 2017 publication of Dignity Rights:  A Synopsis, Professors Daly and May say that, “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.”