Christof Heyns: The Right of Peaceful Assembly

World Justice Project Executive Director Elizabeth Andersen is joined by Christof Heyns, Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria and member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, to discuss the right of peaceful assembly. A new General Comment issued this week by the United Nations Human Rights Committee provides guidance on this topic at a critical moment, with protest movements on the rise across the globe, any many countries grappling with the appropriate response—something that has become even more complicated with the COVID-19 pandemic and public health restrictions on large gatherings.


Professor Christof Heyns is a leading expert on international human rights law and is one of the 18 members of the UN Human Rights Committee that issued new guidance this week on the right to peaceful assembly. He also served as the Committee's rapporteur, responsible for preparing the guidance that has been issued.

Christof HeynsOur conversation with Professor Heyns covers the role and responsibility of the UN Human Rights Committee, the new interpretative guidance from the Committee on Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and peaceful assemblies as an individual right for legitimate participation in a democracy.


General Comment No. 37 on Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Right of peaceful assembly – UNHRC

Transcript: Interview with Christof Heyns UNHRC General Comment 37 on the Right of Peaceful Assembly – Just Security

Global Protest Tracker – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

"Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict" by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan – Columbia University Press

United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less-lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (1990)

Laws on the Right of Peaceful Assembly Worldwide – Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria

The Law on Police Use of Force Worldwide – Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA) and the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria