To Facilitate and Protect: State Obligations and the Right of Peaceful Assembly

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This article distinguishes the obligation of States to ‘facilitate’ and ‘protect’ the right of peaceful assembly under Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) from State practices that rather seek to ‘manage’ or ‘control’ its exercise. Focusing on the protection of public assemblies in the Asia-Pacific region and drawing principally on the UN Human Rights Committee’s assembly jurisprudence and its Concluding Observations on State reports, it emphasizes the critical importance of the language in which State obligations are framed and understood. Many domestic laws over-regulate the right of assembly by creating broad discretionary powers, impermissible grounds of restriction, bureaucratic procedures and onerous liabilities. Such laws reinforce a police ego-image premised on the pernicious logic of ‘management’ and encourage preventive policing tactics that fundamentally undermine the right of peaceful assembly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-34
Number of pages30
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
Issue number1
Early online date29 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Article 21 iccpr
  • Enabling legal framework
  • Facilitate and protect
  • Peaceful assembly
  • Protest policing
  • State obligations
  • ‘management’ of assemblies

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