Caribbean Journal of Philosophy, Vol 14, No 1 (2022)

Achieving Global Justice through Decolonizing Human Dignity

Chika C. Mba


Human dignity is, or should be, at the heart of global justice. This is because dignity underpins conceptions of human nature and is simultaneously a fundamental foundation and an intrinsic end of human rights. However, conceptions of human dignity vary significantly in western and non-western societies, with important implications both for the theory and practice of human rights and global justice. This is because in major international declarations, conventions and agreements about human rights and international justice, human dignity is articulated using a repertoire of linguistic/philosophical resources originating in the west to the exclusion of the non-west. This phenomenon is what I refer to as the coloniality of human dignity, arguing that an acceptable theory of global justice ought to be preceded by a decolonial articulation of human dignity, a notion of dignity that eschews the parochialism of nativist essentialism and disavows the oppression of civilisationalist universalism masquerading as cosmopolitanism.

Full Text: PDF