Literature Survey




























































© March 2001


Human Dignity and International Law 


I. Man and his Dignity


The term “human dignity” can be found in numerous international documents. Yet, an extensive study without certain preconceptions had yet to be written. Now, it exists.


The term “human dignity“ cannot be understood without understanding the different views of man. A closer examination shows: all concepts of man which have been proclaimed throughout the ages (“man as the glory and scum of the universe”, Pascal; man as a mere convention, e. g. Tibetan Buddhism) can be seen as one facet of the one but manifold human being.


The Analysis shows human dignity as being in inter-relation with the human rights of which it is the source, but by which it is also determined.


An Examination of the respective human rights shows, that they can be traced back to freedom or to equality. In this context, equality takes effect into the same direction as freedom (justice in freedom).


This, put into relation to the conclusions drawn from the developed idea of man leads to the consequence that the core of human dignity is genuineness (“authenticity”), the freedom to live according to one’s own nature. This means, that the form of human dignity in the external world can be different not only from culture to culture, but also from man to man. This subjects people who apply international law to considerable, but not unfulfillable demands. As to the content of the term, this interpretation does not lead to problems, because not only the norms referring to human dignity, but all norms have to be construed in “practical concordance”. Freedom therefore is freedom in so far as the other norms do not confine them, themselves being confined by the norms of human dignity.



II. Human dignity, justice and peace


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights already indicates the relationship between human dignity, freedom, justice and peace.


They are essential aims of international law. Human dignity is being shown as a form of justice referring to man. It leads, if it is legally observed and lived in accordance with one’s own nature, to peace (Freedom to live according to one’s own nature requires recognizing one’s own essence, and this means being conscious. In this process, prejudice and discrimination, being two of the greatest impediments to peace, are being eradicated as it can be concluded from the psychology of C. G. Jung, since they are rooted in human unconsciousness and are a part of the “shadow”, which is at the same time the archetypical experience of the enemy/the Fiend. If these roots are made conscious, prejudice and false images are not being projected into law and politics, the psychological processes are not being politicised and the reciprocal application of shadow-projections is being stopped .An essential factor of conflict is being abolished.)



You can read more here, and then, of cours, in my thesis (in German):





André Marhaun

Menschenwürde und Völkerrecht. Mensch, Gerechtigkeit, Frieden. Tübingen: Medien Verlag Köhler 2001. 431 Seiten. 60, 83 DM.

ISBN 3-932694-96-1


While it may be currently not available in local or online book stores, you may still be able to acquire it from the author. Feel free to ask here!