Ms Kelley Loper, CCPL Fellow, published a book chapter “Dignity as a Constitutional Value in Hong Kong: Toward a Contextual Approach?” in Human Dignity in Asia: Dialogue between Law and Culture (CUP, 2022).
This chapter considers the development of “dignity” as a constitutional value in Hong Kong, a special administrative region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Hong Kong has maintained a separate legal system since its reversion to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 after more than 150 years as a British colony. The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy in all areas except foreign affairs and defence. The Basic Law, Hong Kong’s constitutional document, sets out the terms of this “One Country, Two Systems” arrangement, including guarantees of fundamental rights. In particular, it provides for the continuing application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The PRC has not ratiﬁed the ICCPR, so its place in Hong Kong’s regional constitutional framework is a key feature of the SAR’s autonomy. The ICCPR has also been directly incorporated in the Bill of Rights Ordinance (BOR), a statute which has achieved constitutional status. While dignity is not mentioned in the Basic Law, these international standards have supported the judiciary’s use of dignity as a core value that underpins constitutional rights and informs a purposive approach to their interpretation.
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