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Understanding Human Dignity$
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Christopher McCrudden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265642

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.001.0001

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Human Dignity in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights

Human Dignity in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights

(p.393) 22 Human Dignity in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights
Understanding Human Dignity

Jean-Paul Costa

British Academy

The chapter first gives several examples of where ‘dignity’ (or ‘a person’s dignity’, or ‘human dignity’) has been a central element in the reasoning of the Court, or in the arguments advanced by judges in separate opinions. Based on this analysis, the principal question addressed is why the Court draws on ‘dignity’, a word neither explicitly nor, implicitly mentioned in the text of the Convention or the Protocols. What are the reasons for having—or not having—recourse to the concept of dignity in judicial decisions? Is there any objective reason for such choice? Or does it depend on the subjective preferences of the judges sitting on the bench? Is ‘dignity’ necessary for judicial decision-making in order to reach a specific conclusion in a case? Or does ‘dignity’ simply reinforce the legal reasoning of the Court, enabling the Court to give more weight to the arguments of one of the parties in the case? Finally, the chapter looks for a possible conceptual link between human dignity and human rights, insofar as this arises from the jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court.

Keywords:   Universal Declaration of Human Rights, European Convention on Human rights, European Court of Human rights, legal reasoning, serious violations, inhuman and degrading treatment, political rights, link between dignity and human rights

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