The Dignity Rights Project sets dignity in action through public and professional education, advocacy, and support for high-impact lawyering.
Human dignity recognizes the equal and inalienable value of every member of the human family. It is recognized in the International Bill of Rights and permeates the Sustainable Development Goals. At the national level, it is incorporated in more than 150 of the world's constitutions and courts around the world are increasingly vindicating dignity rights in civil, political, social, economic, cultural and environmental contexts.
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 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.The Dignity Rights Project is co-directed by Erin Daly and James R. May.
James R. May isDistinguished Professor of Law, Widener University Delaware Law School (USA). He is the author or co-author and editor or co-editor of 10 books and more than 100 articles and chapters, including Standards of Environmental Rights (Cambridge University Press), Principles of Constitutional Environmental Law (American Bar Association) and co-editor of Shale Gas and the Future of Energy (Edward Elgar). May has been inducted into Phi Kappa Phi and the American College of Environmental Lawyers. His work focuses on comparative environmental constitutionalism and dignity rights.
Together, they 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.
American Bar Association Center for Human Rights
Business and Human Rights Resource Center
Center for Applied Legal Studies, University of Witswatersrand, South Africa
Chester Environmental Partnership, Chester, U.S.
Coming Clean, Delaware
Delaware Concerned Residents 4 Environmental Justice
Lenape Indian Tribe, Delaware, U.S.
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti/Bureau des Avocats Internationales, Boston, U.S. and Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Institute of Romani Culture in Albania (IRCA)
Jigme Singjigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law, Bhutan
Pakistan College of Law Dignity Rights Center
PILnet, New York, U.S.
Refugee Legal Support – UK and Greece
United Nations Environment (formerly UNEP)
Universidad del Norte, Baranquilla, Colombia
Université de la Fondation Aristide, Haiti
Lisa Chamberlain, Center for Applied Legal Studies, University of Witswatersrand, South Africa,
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)
“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)