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7 - Dignity as a Constitutional Value in Hong Kong

Toward a Contextual Approach?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2022

Jimmy Chia-Shin Hsu
Affiliation:
Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
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Summary

This chapter considers dignity as a constitutional value in Hong Kong. The courts have invoked dignity in a small number of cases involving a limited assortment of rights. Overall this use of dignity has been uneven: while it has helped expand the scope of constitutional rights in some circumstances, dignity has functioned more restrictively in others. An examination of this jurisprudence allows for a reflection on debates about the role of dignity in comparative constitutional law more generally. Commentators have queried whether such a vague and imprecise term has any substantive meaning and whether it should be abandoned altogether. The chapter concludes that attention to context can mitigate these concerns about dignity’s indeterminacy and contribute to its development as a holistic constitutional value. The relevant context is both universal and local. It includes dignity’s position as a broad-based foundational principle in international human rights law across civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. It also depends on domestic factors such as a jurisdiction’s constitutional framework and empirical realities that impact the realization of dignity.

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Human Dignity in Asia
Dialogue between Law and Culture
, pp. 160 - 186
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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