Democracy and Human Dignity – Fit for Purpose?

7th November 2017

The Las Casas Institute and St Mary’s University Twickenham jointly organised the first of a series of workshops and lectures examining the importance of human dignity in several policy areas. The first workshop, held at the Theos think tank in central London, was on human dignity, populism and the challenges to Western liberal democracy. Four position papers were presented: Professor Jan Zielonka, St Antony’s College, Oxford on the drivers behind the current situation and the challenge to traditional liberal values; Cambridge PhD candidate Léonie de Jonge on her research on how the media treat populist groups in the Benelux countries; Dr Adrian Pabst, Reader in Politics at the University of Kent, on the Catholic understanding of democracy in relation to other approaches; and Professor John Loughlin on the meaning of the concept of human dignity. The papers provoked a lively discussion among the twenty participants who came from the governmental, social action, and academic worlds. A report of the workshop is being prepared by Ben Ryan of Theos which will be published with some of the papers that were presented. These will be made available on the Las Casas Institute website.

The workshop was followed by a lecture on democracy and human dignity delivered in the Abbey Centre at Westminster by Mr Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons and a former soldier and government consultant. Professor Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s University, responded to the lecture. There followed an animated question and answer session among the among the audience. The lecture is available for viewing here.