Vol. 2 No. 1 (2019): In Memoriam: Czesław Martyniak

Human Dignity as a Legal Concept. A Vision of European Culture

Christian Hillgruber
University of Bonn (Germany)
Published 9.11.2020
  • human dignity,
  • common European legal value,
  • inviolable dignity of man,
  • fundamental rights,
  • pre-implantation genetic diagnostics (PGD)
How to Cite
Hillgruber, C. (2020). Human Dignity as a Legal Concept. A Vision of European Culture. The Legal Culture, 2(1), 113-123. https://doi.org/10.37873/legal.2019.2.1.48


The article identifies the belief in human dignity as indispenseable human right as the essence of European legal culture. From a historical point of view, it lines out that, originally, the foundation of a common Europe should be, first of all, the belief in human rights based on the inviolable dignity of man. The article examines the meaning of human dignity in a legal sense, identifying the core of human dignity as “the promise of legal personality especially in the state of imperfection and weakness”. In a next step, attention is drawn to the fact, that the practice of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) casts doubt on the validity of this concept of human dignity as common European legal value. As a consequence, Europe is called to return to its spiritual and religious foundations under which the legal concept of human dignity developed.


Download data is not yet available.


  1. Kulturelle Resolution des Kongresses von Den Haag (7-10. Mai 1948) <https://www.cvce.eu/collections/unit-content/-/unit/de/02bb76df-d066-4c08-a58a-d4686a3e68ff/5c35593d-484a-4f53-b0bd-a6605110c3b3/Resources#f9f90696-a4b2-43fd-9e85-86dee9fb57a5_de&overlay> accessed 3 March 2020
  2. Polictical Resolution of the Hague Congress (7-10 May 1948) <https://www.cvce.eu/obj/political_resolution_of_the_hague_congress_7_10_may_1948-en-15869906-97dd-4c54-ad85-a19f2115728b.html> accessed 3 March 2020
  3. Arendt H, ‘Es gibt nur ein einziges Menschenrecht‘ (1949) 4 Die Wandlung 754
  4. Council of Europe, Collected Edition of the ‘Travaux Préparatoires’, 1975, vol I, II
  5. Enders Ch, Die Menschenwürde in der Verfassungsordnung (Mohr Siebeck 1997)
  6. Goos Ch, Innere Freiheit. Eine Rekonstruktion des grundgesetzlichen Würdebegriffs (V&R unipress 2011)
  7. Havel V, Speech in the Polish Parliament (Sejm) on 25 September1990 reproduced in extracts in <http://www.visegradgroup.eu/the-visegrad-book/havel-vaclav-speech-in> accessed 3 March 2020
  8. Hillgruber Ch, ‘Der internationale Menschenrechtsstandard – geltendes Verfassungsrecht?‘ in Burkhard Schöbener and others (eds), Iustitia et Pax (Commemorative writing for Dieter Blumenwitz, Duncker Humblot 2008)
  9. Jestaedt M, Grundrechtsentfaltung im Gesetz (Mohr Siebeck 1999)
  10. Joas H, Die Sakralität der Person (Suhrkamp 2011)
  11. Mann T, Der Zauberberg (S. Fischer 1954)
  12. Merkel A, Speech in front of the European Parliament given on 17 January 2007 in Straßburg, Bulletin of the German Federal Government, 18 January 2007, No. 04-2 <https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/service/bulletin/rede-von-bundeskanzlerin-dr-angela-merkel-797836> accessed 3 March 2020
  13. Steffens B, Toleranz? (Zeit Online, 14 October 2010) <https://community.zeit.de/user/bert-steffens/beitrag/2010/10/14/toleranz-0> accessed 3 March 2020
  14. Wallau Ph, Die Menschenwürde in der Grundrechtsordnung der Europäischen Union (V&R unipress 2010)