The protection of human well-being by the law – a comparative study of Swiss, German, French and European case-law
Commonly, well-being is defined as „the state of feeling healthy and happy“ . A larger definition extends to prosperity . Both definitions confer this notion a larger meaning than just being synonymous to health . In the absence of a legal definition of the term « well-being », it must be questioned whether and if so, to what extend the protection of the well-being of the individual, but also of a State’s population is guaranteed by the law.
The methods suggested to conduct this research are two-fold. They cover research and analysis of literature (legal, sociological, economic, medical) and policies (health, security, environmental, consumer protection, economy), as well as an empirical part (survey of patients, doctors, prisoners, immigrants, health care officials, security forces, data protection authorities, policy makers and judges concerning factors that contribute to well-being in general and, more precisely, their understanding of well-being, but also analysis of social and economic indicators) .
Until now, legal texts which literally protect the individual’s well-being seem to be non-existent in Europe. However, many texts on the quality of life, human dignity, health, security and other reasons of overriding interest contribute implicitely to the objective of promoting human well-being through the law. Several horizontal clauses contained in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union require that a high level of security (art. 67 § 3), human health protection (art. 168 § 1), consumer protection (art. 169 § 1), as well as environmental protection (art. 191 § 2) be ensured. Others exist, but these four need to be stressed for their immediate impact on the physical, mental, social and economic well-being of patients, consumers, prisoners or citizens in general. As social protection policy and financial and economic stability mecanisms also might have an impact on the human well-being, they need to be considered as well. Reversely, one could ask whether guaranteeing the well-being of a sum of individuals is likely to have a positive impact on the economy and/or on the social, sanitary or securitarian environment of a State and, at a larger scale, in Europe. The study will be based on a comparison between situations in several regions which are caracterized by differences in size and culture : France, Germany, Switzerland as opposed to the EU as a whole. May we observe similarities or differences concerning the protection of individual and collective well-being between those States, and between those States and the EU ?