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Philadelphia, PAFebruary 22, 2024 – Senator Art Haywood (D-4) convened a special conversation with national and international guests to explore the impact of human dignity on constitutional frameworks. This conversation is a starting point for Senator Haywood’s aim to protect dignity as a human right within the Pennsylvania Constitution.  

Senator Haywood was joined by: 

  • Erin Daly, Professor of Law and Director of Dignity Rights Clinic, Delaware Law School, Widener University 
  • Christopher McCrudden, Professor of Human Rights and Equality Law, University of Michigan School of Law 
  • Justice Alfred Mavedzenge, Professor of Philosophy, University of Cape Town 
  • Pablo Gilabert, Professor of Philosophy, Concordia University 

The discussion revolved around the multifaceted concept of human dignity and its implications in constitutional and legal contexts. It focused on the United States and other countries that have used dignity within their legal frameworks. The global consensus on the importance of human dignity is underscored by the roughly 170 countries who have incorporated some mention of dignity within their legal systems. The theoretical nuances of human dignity, including concepts like self-determination and the right to participate in public life, have varied implications as each government brings their own interpretations and applications.  

Human dignity can be utilized as a key mitigator of legal tension. For example, the Supreme Court of Kenya often invokes human dignity when fundamental rights face challenges. The impact of this concept on social services is explored in South Africa, Kenya, and India, particularly in instances where constitutions lack specific socio-economic rights. Legal scholars emphasize the need for courts to develop contextual understanding, considering the diverse dimensions of human dignity in different regions. 

Senator Haywood said, “Overall, this conversation highlighted the unique role of human dignity in humanizing law, fostering judicial empathy, and serving as a guiding principle for constitutional interpretations globally. This is the first step in exploring how we can protect the dignity of all Pennsylvanians within the Commonwealth’s Constitution.” 

To watch this conversation in full, visit