Degradation: a human rights law perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter focuses on a number of common questions relating to the concept of degradation, against the backdrop of that concept as it has developed in the jurisprudence of the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically in relation to the prohibition of degrading treatment within Article 3. The prohibition of torture and, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is commonly understood, and is expressed in case-law, as having an intimate connection with the concept of human dignity, the language of which underpins the modern human rights regime. The basic structure of the Article 3 understanding of degradation is outlined, alongside examples of its practical application, in order to highlight significant conceptual relationships. Questions concerning the significance of the individual emotion of degradation, the relevance of autonomy in understanding degradation, and the relevance of the idea of social dignity can be illuminated by a contextualized discussion of the jurisprudence. It is suggested in this respect that the scope of what can be understood as degradation is not limited primarily by the victim’s emotional experience, that the jurisprudence draws our attention to one particular facet of autonomy, and that the essence of the concept of degradation is helpfully captured in the idea of abuse of equal rank.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHumiliation, Degradation, Dehumanization
Subtitle of host publicationHuman Dignity Violated
EditorsPaulus Kaufmann, Hannes Kuch, Christian Neuhauser, Elaine Webster
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9789048196609
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2010

Publication series

NameLibrary of ethics and applied philosophy
ISSN (Print)1387-6678


  • human being
  • violated
  • dignity
  • torture
  • poverty
  • rape
  • exclusion
  • human dignity
  • degradation
  • Article 3
  • human rights


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