Human dignity in comparative perspective

Botha, Henk (2009-02)

CITATION: Botha, H. 2009. Human dignity in comparative perspective. Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif 20(2):171-220.

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This article compares the role of human dignity in constitutional interpretation in Germany and South Africa. Both countries have embraced dignity as a direct response to a troubled and totalitarian past. Nowadays dignity features as a supreme value, an interpretive Leitmotiv, a justiciable right, an objective constitutional norm, and a guide to the resolution of value conflicts. There are, however, important differences in the way dignity has shaped these countries' constitutional jurisprudence. A study of the relevant similarities and differences provides an important occasion for critical reflection on the possibilities and limits of a dignity-based jurisprudence. The article concludes with tentative observations on the capacity of dignity to guide constitutional decision-making.

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