The legal protection of personality: some observations and ideas for future research

by Jan Christoph Bublitz & Reinhard Merkel

Many constitutions and human rights treaties explicitly (Universal Declaration of HR, Art. 2 I German Constitution) or implicitly (Art. 8 European Convention of Human Rights – private life) protect the free development of one’s “personality” or “identity” and even declare its “core characteristics” inviolable, i.e. states cannot interfere with them for any reason.

However, the legal conception of personality is anything but clear, it is neither spelled out more precisely nor does it seem to play an important role in court practice. As a consequence, there does not seem to be a coherent idea about the scope and limits of these rights.

With regard to neurotechnologies that potentially enable transforming key elements of a personality, defining the contours of the underlying concept more sharply seems to be a promising and challenging task in need of an interdisciplinary and trans-jurisdictional approach.