DHI Founder and President of the Board of Trustees
In the two years between December 2006 and December 2008, Benjamin Harnwell was engaged in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Dignity, consulting widely with various experts around the world. This work was drawn to a conclusion on 8 December 2008, when (with Gay Mitchell MEP) he founded the European Parliament’s Working Group on Human Dignity (of which he remains Honorary Secretary); and on the same date, simultaneously established (with Nirj Deva MEP) the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (of which he is Director).
The Working Group was publicly launched on 25 March 2009 by European Parliament Speaker Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering MEP (now a Patron of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute). The DHI has since been engaged in launching parallel parliamentary working groups on human dignity in various legislatures around the world, all based on the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Dignity.
Harnwell was the Chief of Staff to Nirj Deva MEP until the end of 2010, since which point he is now based permanently in Rome, directing the development of the DHI. When involved in politics, he was an active member of the British Conservative Party for over 15 years. Benjamin identifies himself philosophically as an Austro-libertarian, co-founding (with Vincent de Roeck) the European Parliament’s Mises Circle, which exists to promote greater recognition of the Austrian School of Economics; he also co-founded the international Right Approach Group (with Patrick Barron), to explore free-market solutions to contemporary problems.
In 2002 and 2004, Harnwell was seconded to Colombo as Special Advisor to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
In 2004 Ben was received into the Catholic Church, by Fr. Michael Seed. Since 2015 he has written an occasional column in the National Catholic Register.