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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 July 2020

Michael Hamilton*
University of East Anglia,


Informed by the ‘assembly’ jurisprudence of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, this article addresses fundamental questions about the meaning and scope of ‘assembly’ in Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In seeking to determine when the right of peaceful assembly might properly be engaged, the article explores the interrelationship of assembly with expression and association and proposes a definition of ‘assembly’—for the purposes of its protection—as ‘an intentional gathering by two or more people (including in private and online/virtual spaces)’. Such definitional reflection is particularly timely in light of the Human Rights Committee's drafting of General Comment No 37 on Article 21.

Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press for the British Institute of International and Comparative Law

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This article evolved from a preliminary study generously supported by the ‘Greater protection and standard setting at the United Nations’ project managed by the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) and made possible by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) through the Civic Space Initiative. The author extends sincere thanks to ECNL, to fellow members of the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Assembly (for whom discussion about the meaning and scope of ‘assembly’ has been a constant refrain) and to Christof Heyns, Ella McPherson, David Mead, Thomas Probert and Sharath Srinivasan (for innumerable and always provocative exchanges on the principles at issue). Special thanks also to Kirsten McConnachie and Francesca Fanucci for thoughtful comments on an earlier draft and to this journal’s Editorial Board for their helpful suggestions. The author bears sole responsibility for the content and any remaining errors.


1 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted 16 December 1966, entered into force 23 March 1976) 999 UNTS 171 (ICCPR). The right of peaceful assembly is also protected in key regional human rights treaties, namely the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights, as amended) (ECHR) art 11; African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (adopted 27 June 1981, entered into force 21 October 1986) (1982) 21 ILM 58 (African Charter) art 11; and the American Convention on Human Rights (adopted 22 November 1969) (ACHR) art 15.

2 Similarly, ‘Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani’ (13 August 2007) UN Doc A/62/225, para 20.

3 European Court of Human Rights, Guide on Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (1st edn, 31 August 2019); European Court of Human Rights, Guide on the case-law of the European Convention on Human Rights Mass protests (1st edn, 29 February 2020).

4 eg Chumak v Ukraine, Appl No 44529/09, Judgment of 6 March 2018, para 36.

5 Barraco v France, Appl No 31684/05, Judgment of 3 March 2009.

6 Obote v Russia, Appl No 58954/09, Judgment of 19 November 2019.

7 Navalnyy v Russia, Appl No 29580/12 and four others, GC Judgment of 15 November 2018, paras 19, 107–108, 134–137.

8 Annenkov and Others v Russia, Appl No 31475/10, Judgment of 25 July 2017, para 123.

9 Nosov and Others v Russia, Appl Nos 9117/04 and 10441/04, Judgment of 20 February 2014, paras 13 and 49.

10 Nowak, M, UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary (2nd edn, N. P. Engel 2005) 484Google Scholar, para 5.

11 Eg Korol v Belarus, Views adopted 14 July 2016, UN Doc CCPR/C/117/D/2089/2011, para 7.5.

12 The Committee announced that General Comment No 37 would focus on the right of peaceful assembly at the close of its 124th session (‘Human Rights Committee closes one hundred and twenty-fourth session in Geneva’, 2 November 2018).

13 See further, O'Flaherty, M, ‘Freedom of Expression: Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Human Rights Committee's General Comment No 34’ (2012) 12(4) HRLRev 627Google Scholar, 646; Seibert-Fohr, A, ‘The UN Human Rights Committee’ in Oberleitner, G (ed), International Human Rights Institutions, Tribunals, and Courts (Springer 2018)Google Scholar.

14 D McGoldrick, The Human Rights Committee: Its Role in the Development of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Clarendon Press 1994) para 11.25.

15 Comm No 1790/2008, Govsha, Syritsa and Mezyak v Belarus, Views adopted 27 July 2012, UN Doc CCPR/C/105/D/1790/2008, para 9.4.

16 The drafting of a General Comment has long for been advocated—eg I Jaques, ‘Peaceful Protest: A Cornerstone of Democracy: How to Address the Challenges?’ (Wilton Park Conference WP1154, 26–28 January 2012) at 2, para 5: ‘There is broad agreement that the Committee should now do so as a priority.’

17 Recognising that Concluding Observations are themselves merely recommendatory—see H Keller and L Grover, ‘General Comments of the Human Rights Committee and Their Legitimacy’ in H Keller and G Ulfstein (eds), UN Human Rights Treat Bodies: Law and Legitimacy (Cambridge University Press 2012) 116, 166.

18 The potential lifespan of a General Comment is significant. For example, General Comment No 34 (12 September 2011) on Freedom of Opinion and Expression replaced General Comment 10 (1983); General Comment 36 (3 September 2019) on the right to life replaced General Comments 6 (1982) and 14 (1984).

19 See text to (n 227–n 246) below. Also, M Hamilton et al., ‘The Right of Peaceful Assembly in Online Spaces: A Comment on the Revised Draft General Comment No 37 on Article 21’ (Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee, February 2020).

20 See the preliminary study, submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee in advance of its half-day discussion on General Comment No 37 on 20 March 2019: M Hamilton, ‘Towards General Comment No 37 on Article 21 ICCPR: The Right of Peaceful Assembly’ (ECNL, ICNL & UEA 2019). Also, M Hamilton, ‘Comments on Draft General Comment 37 on Article 21 ICCPR: The Right of Peaceful Assembly’ (21 February 2020).

21 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (adopted 23 May 1969, entered into force 27 January 1980) 1155 UNTS 331 (VCLT) art 31.

22 HRC, ‘General Comment No 34: Article 19: Freedoms of Opinion and Expression’, para 36.

23 J Butler, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (Harvard University Press 2015) 160; M Hardt and A Negri Assembly (Oxford University Press 2017) 295.See also text to (n 120) below.

24 Tatár and Fáber v Hungary, Appl Nos 26005/08 and 26160/08, Judgment of 12 June 2012, para 29.

25 Kivenmaa v Finland, Views adopted 31 March 1994, UN Doc CCPR/C/50/D/412/1990. Ms Kivenmaa sought to deny that ‘what took place was a public meeting’ under domestic law while claiming that it was an ‘assembly’ protected under Article 21. Having confirmed the latter, the Committee confusingly stated (para 9.2) that such an event was not a ‘demonstration’. See the Individual opinion by Mr Kurt Herndl (dissenting), para 2.5; Nowak (n 10) 486, para 7.

26 Tatár and Fáber v Hungary (n 24) paras 38–39.

27 eg Trofimchuk v Ukraine, Appl No 4241/03, Judgment of 28 October 2010, para 39). Also, Nowak (n 10) 485.

28 eg Romanovsky v Belarus, Views adopted 29 October 2015, UN Doc CCPR/C/115/D/2011/2010, para 2.1.

29 Kivenmaa (n 25) para 7.4; Govsha, Syritsa and Mezyak v Belarus (n 15) para 3.4(a).

30 European Court of Human Rights, Guide on Article 11 (n 3) para 8.

31 Kudrevičius and Others v Lithuania, Appl No 37553/05, GC Judgment of 15 October 2015, para 86 (emphasis added).

32 eg Ezelin v France, Appl No 11800/85, Judgment of 26 April 1991, para 35.

33 eg Berladir and Others v Russia, Appl No 34202/06, Judgment of 10 July 2012, para 36.

34 eg Women on Waves and Others v Portugal, Appl No 31276/05, Judgment of 3 February 2009, para 28; Karademirci and Others v Turkey, Appl Nos 37096/97 and 37101/97, Judgment of 25 January 2005, para 26; Fáber v Hungary, Appl No 40721/08, Judgment of 24 July 2012, paras 19 and 59; Butkevich v Russia, Appl No 5865/07, Judgment of 13 February 2018, para 122.

35 S Zorzetto, ‘The Lex Specialis Principle and Its Uses in Legal Argumentation: An Analytical Inquiry’ 3 Eunomia. Revisita en Cultura de la Legalidad (September 2012–February 2013) 63.

36 ibid 66 (original emphasis).

37 Nonetheless, a key report from the Inter-American system is framed in the language of ‘protest’, defining this as ‘a form of individual or collective action aimed at expressing ideas, views, or values of dissent, opposition, denunciation, or vindication’ and noting that social protest is ‘protected by a constellation of rights and freedoms’: Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Protest and Human Rights: Standards on the rights involved in social protest and the obligations to guide the response of the State (2019) ‘Foreword’ and paras 1–16.

38 D Mead, The New Law of Peaceful Protest (Hart 2010) 183, n 84.

39 D Kretzmer, ‘Demonstrations and the Law’ (1984) 19 IsraelLRev 47, 50–1.

40 Mead (n 38) 59 and 152–3.

41 See eg Navalnyy v Russia, Appl No 29580/12 and four others, GC Judgment of 15 November 2018, para 107; Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR (n 37) para 19: ‘Freedom of assembly protects the peaceful, intentional, and temporary congregation of people in a given space for the achievement of a common goal, including protest.’

42 Kerrouche v Algeria, Views adopted 3 November 2016, UN Doc CCPR/C/118/D/2128/2012.

43 Baban v Australia, Views adopted 6 August 2003, UN Doc CCPR/C/78/D/1014/2001, para 6.7.

44 O'Flaherty (n 13) 648.

45 eg Steel and Others v the United Kingdom, Appl No 24838/94, Judgment of 23 September 1998, para 92; Açık and Others v Turkey, Appl No 31451/03, Judgment of 13 January 2009, para 40; Murat Vural v Turkey, Appl No 9540/07, Judgment of 21 October 2014, paras 44–56; Karácsony and others v Hungary, Appl Nos 42461/13 and 44357/13, GC Judgment of 17 May 2016, para 120; Sinkova v Ukraine, Appl No 39496/11, Judgment of 27 February 2018, para 100.

46 eg Praded v Belarus, Views adopted 10 October 2014, UN Doc CCPR/C/112/D/2029/2011, paras 4, 7.3–7.4.

47 eg Kim v Uzbekistan, Views adopted 4 April 2018, UN Doc CCPR/C/122/D/2175/2012, paras 13.7–13.8 and in Belyazeka v Belarus, Views adopted 23 March 2012, UN Doc CCPR/C/104/D/1772/2008, paras 11.6 and 11.8.

48 eg Tatár and Fáber (n 24) para 38.

49 eg Govsha, Syritsa and Mezyak (n 15) para 9.4.

50 In four cases where complaints under both Articles were deemed admissible, the Committee decided not to examine separately the author's claim under art 21: Katsora v Belarus, Views adopted 24 October 2012, UN Doc CCPR/C/106/D/1836/2008, paras 6.4 and 7.6; Protsko and Tolchin v Belarus, Views adopted 1 November 2013, UN Doc CCPR/C/109/D/1919-1920/2009, paras 6.6 and 7.9; Pivonos v Belarus, Views adopted 29 October 2012, UN Doc CCPR/C/106/D/1830/2008, paras 8.4 and 9.4; Komarovsky v Belarus, Views adopted 25 October 2013, UN Doc CCPR/C/109/D/1839/2008, paras 8.4 and 9.5.

51 The word ‘speech’ is used here interchangeably with ‘expression’ (but that is not to suggest that expression necessarily involves ‘pure’ speech). Similarly, text to n 59.

52 Kivenmaa (n 25).

53 ibid, Individual opinion by Mr Kurt Herndl (dissenting), paras 3.3–3.4.

54 Nowak (n 10) 485 (original emphasis).

55 Primov and Others v Russia, Appl No 17391/06, Judgment of 12 June 2014, para 91.

56 L Robertson and R Farley, ‘The Facts on Crowd Size’ Factcheck (23 January 2017).

57 C Tilly, The Politics of Collective Violence (Cambridge University Press 2003) 197; CE Baker, ‘Scope of the First Amendment Freedom of Speech’ (1978) 25 UCLALRev 1011, fn 129.

58 Tatár and Fáber (n 24) para 38.

59 Aleksandrov v Belarus, Views adopted 24 July 2014, UN Doc CCPR/C/111/D/1933/2010, para 2.4.

60 cf JD Inazu, Liberty's Refuge (Yale University Press 2012) 50; Butler (n 23) 156.

61 O Salát, The Right to Freedom of Assembly: A Comparative Study (Hart 2015) 7.

62 TI Emerson, The System of Freedom of Expression (Random House, New York, NY, 1970) 16–17.

63 Emerson himself critiques the US Supreme Court's ‘confusing and destructive’ distinction between ‘pure speech’ and ‘conduct’ invoked in numerous assembly cases, ibid, 294–8.

64 Emerson (n 62) 293. See further Baker (n 57) 1040.

65 Emerson, ibid, 293–4.

66 JL Austin, How to Do Things with Words. The William James Lectures Delivered at Harvard University in 1955 (2nd edn, Clarendon Press 1975) 94–5 and 101–3.

67 Baker (n 57) 1030–1.

68 JD Inazu, ‘The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly’ (2010) 84 TulLRev 567.

69 A Bhagwat, ‘Assembly Resurrected’ (2012) 91 TexLRev 364; A Bhagwat, ‘Liberty's Refuge, or the Refuge of Scoundrels? The Limits of the Right of Assembly’ (2012) 89 WashULRev 1383–4.

70 The two rights are combined in art 11 ECHR but are treated separately in arts 21 and 22 ICCPR; arts 15 and 16 ACHR; arts 10 and 11 ACHPR. Note too, the combined mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur, UNHRC ‘The Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association’ (6 October 20100 UN Doc A/HRC/RES/15/21.

71 eg Kungurov v Uzbekistan, Views adopted 20 July 2011, UN Doc CCPR/C/102/D/1478/2006 para 8.9.

72 TA El-Haj, ‘Friends, Associates, and Associations: Theoretically and Empirically Grounding the Freedom of Association’ (2014) 56 ArizonaLRev 99.

73 ibid 62.

74 ibid 73.

75 Young, James and Webster v the UK, Appl Nos 7601/76 and 7806/77, Commission Report of 14 December 1979, para 167.

76 Gorzelik and Others v Poland, Appl No 44158/98, GC Judgment of 17 February 2004, para 88.

77 Notwithstanding the express reference in art 21 ICCPR and art 11 ECHR only to forming Trade Unions, the right has wider reach: Sidiropoulos and Others v Greece, Appl No 26695/95, Judgment of 10 July 1998, para 40.

78 Gorzelik (n 76) para 92.

79 eg Romanovsky (n 28).

80 eg Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi v Turkey, Appl No 19920/13, Judgment of 26 April 2016.

81 Inazu (n 60) 5, 152; TA El-Haj, ‘All Assemble: Order and Disorder in Law, Politics, and Culture’ (2014) 16 UPaJConstL 954; G Kateb, ‘The Value of Association’ in A Gutmann (ed), Freedom of Association (Princeton University Press 1998) 37 and 49.

82 eg Gorzelik (n 76) para 92.

83 G Hayes, ‘Regimes of Austerity’ (2017) 16(1) Social Movement Studies 21; JW Müller, ‘What Spaces Does Democracy Need?’ (2019) 102(2–3) Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal 208.

84 eg Romanovsky (n 28) para 7.2; Inazu (n 60) 153.

85 Butler (n 23) 160. That said, Butler appears to overlook art 21 ICCPR (157–8 and 227, n 1); similarly, Hardt and Negri (n 23) 293–4.

86 Baker (n 57) 1031–2 (emphasis added).

87 Brennan J in Roberts v United States Jaycees 468 US 609, 618 (1984) distinguishing ‘intimate association’ from ‘expressive association’—a bifurcation widely criticised for failing to protect associations that are neither ‘intimate’ nor ‘expressive’. See Inazu, ‘Virtual Assembly’ (2013) 98 CornellLRev 1116–18; El-Haj (n 72) 69.

88 Salát (n 61) 4 relies on such a distinction. So too does Nowak (n 10) 484.

89 The ACHPR, Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa (2017) paras 3 and 88 expressly resist any such limitation: ‘Assembly refers to an act of intentionally gathering … for an extended duration.’ Note also text to (n 115 - n 116) below.

90 R (on the application of Gallastegui) v Westminster City Council and Others [2013] EWCA Civ 28, para 13. Also, WJT Mitchell, ‘Image, Space, Revolution: The Arts of Occupation’ 39(1) Critical Inquiry (Autumn 2012) 14 describing the occupations of Tahrir Square and Zuccotti Park as ‘manifestations of a long-term resolve’.

91 Consider, for example, the Women's Peace Camp at Greenham Common in England which lasted for 19 years (from 1981 to 2000); Cissé v France, Appl No 51346/99, Judgment of 9 April 2002; Razvozzhayev v Russia and Ukraine and Udaltsov v Russia, Appl Nos 75734/12, 2695/15 and 55325/15, 19 November 2019, paras 285 and 292.

92 See text to (n 115–n 116) below.

93 Focusing exclusively on what occurs during an event might unduly circumscribe the scope of Article 21—but not everything protected by Article 21 is an assembly but rather attracts protection because of its importance to assembling. Similarly, Inazu (n 87) 1122. Note also Section 4B below.

94 Inazu (n 87) 1098–9.

95 Giménez v Paraguay, Views adopted 25 July 2018, UN Doc CCPR/C/123/D/2372/2014, para 8.3.

96 515 US 557 (1995). More recently, see eg R Salerno, ‘Has Pride Sold out by Inviting Toronto Police back to the Parade?’ NowToronto (29 November 2018); P Greenfield, ‘Pride Organisers Say Sorry after Anti-Trans Group Leads March’ The Guardian (8 July 2018). Civic events, perhaps in receipt of public funding, suggest that the blunt presumption of exclusive control established in Hurley deserves much more nuanced analysis. For critical discussion, see C Stychin, ‘Celebration and Consolidation: National Rituals and the Legal Construction of American Identities’ (1998) 18(2) OJLS 265; M Sunder, ‘Authorship and Autonomy as Rites of Exclusion: The Intellectual Propertization of Free Speech in Hurley v Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston’ (1996) 49 StanLRev 143.

97 SA Marston, ‘Space, Culture, State: Uneven Developments in Political Geography’ (2004) 23(1) Political Geography 9.

98 M Goodwin, ‘Citizenship and Governance’ in P Cloke, P Crang and M Goodwin (eds), Introducing Human Geographies (3rd edn, Routledge 2014) 569; Stychin (n 96) 266.

99 T Cresswell, ‘Place’ in Cloke et al., ibid, 250–1.

100 T Zick, Speech Out of Doors: Preserving First Amendment Liberties in Public Places (Cambridge University Press 2009) 10.

101 Doreen Massey argues that the concept of ‘territoriality’ connotes an imagined and nostalgic sense of spatial fixity and rootedness, of space as naturally divided and bounded. D Massey, For Space (Sage 2005) 64–5.

102 Goodwin (n 98) 572.

103 Nowak (n 10) 484, para 5 (original emphasis).

104 Salát (n 61) 7.

105 Butler (n 23) 178.

106 P Gerbaudo, Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism (Pluto 2012) 39.

107 UNSR FoAA, ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai’ (21 May 2012) UN Doc A/HRC/20/27, para 24.

108 Draft OSCE/ODIHR—Venice Commission, Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly (3rd edn, forthcoming).

109 ACHPR (n 89) para 3.

110 Revised draft of General Comment No 37 (November 2019). The text in parenthesis ‘[ ]’ indicates language on which consensus was not reached during the first reading.

111 UN Web TV, ‘Second reading of draft General Comment 37, 3707th Meeting, 128th Session of Human Rights Committee 13 March 2020’, discussion of para 4, at 1.14:00–1.16:40.

112 ibid at 1:06:40–1:39:10.

113 ibid at 1:38:55.

114 ibid, regarding para 6 of the draft General Comment (discussion from 1:53:45 and adopted text at 2:16:40).

115 Note text to (n 88–n 92) above, emphasising the redundancy and risk of any such qualification.

116 Despite the absence of any reference to ‘temporariness’ in paras 4 or 13 of the revised draft General Comment (November 2019), para 62 of the draft (in the section on ‘Restrictions’) provides that: ‘[p]eaceful assemblies are generally by their nature temporary’ and para 68 similarly limits the erection of structures at assemblies to ‘non-permanent constructions’ on account of ‘the temporary nature of assemblies’.

117 O'Flaherty (n 13) 648.

118 eg Christians Against Racism and Fascism (CARAF) v UK (1980), Appl No 8440/78, Decision of 16 July 1980, 147, para 4.

119 Navalny v Russia, Appl Nos 29580/12 and four others, GC Judgment of 15 November 2018, para 98.

120 Nowak (n 10) 483–4 (observing that the delegates failed to explain why this argument applied to freedom of assembly in particular); MJ Bossuyt, Guide to the ‘Travaux Préparatoires’ of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Martinus Nijhoff 1987) 415–16; UNGA, ‘Draft International Covenants on Human Rights’ (1 July 1955) UN Doc A/2929, paras 139–140.

121 ibid Nowak, 484 n 12.

122 Revised draft of General Comment No 37 (November 2019) para 4.

123 Tatár and Fáber (n 24).

124 Section III above, text to (n 29 - n 36). Also, Novikova and Others v Russia, Appl Nos 25501/07 and four others, Judgment of 26 April 2016, para 91; Mead (n 38) 66.

125 Sviridov v Kazakhstan, Views adopted 13 July 2017, UN Doc CCPR/C/120/D/2158/2012, para 10.4.

126 eg Coleman v Australia, Views adopted 17 July 2006, UN Doc CCPR/C/87D/1157/2003, para 6.4; Levinov v Belarus, Views adopted 19 July 2018, UN Doc CCPR/C/123/D/2235/2013, para 5.7.

127 Katsora (n 50); Protsko and Tolchin (n 50).

128 Poplavny v Belarus, Views adopted 5 November 2015, UN Doc CCPR/C/115/D/2019/2010; Sudalenko v Belarus, Views adopted 5 November 2015, UN Doc CCPR/C/115/D/2016/2010; and MT v Uzbekistan, Views adopted 23 July 2015, UN Doc CCPR/C/114/D/2234/2013.

129 Baker, text to (n 86).

130 cf the State party's argument in Coleman (n 126) paras 4.2 and 4.6.

131 Novikova (n 124) paras 204–205.

132 eg M Abdellah and E Blair, ‘Online Protest on Egyptian's Death Draws Hundreds’ Reuters (9 July 2010).

133 eg A Mostrous, ‘Comedian Calls for “Mass Lone Demonstration”’ The Guardian (24 August 2006).

134 Gerbaudo (n 106) 60; Z Tufekci and C Wilson, ‘Social media and the decision to participate in political protest: Observations from Tahrir Square’ (2012) 62 Journal of Communication 363.

135 Both actions had some measure of coordination—in Egypt, via the Facebook group, ‘We Are All Khaled Said’, and in Turkey, adopting the hashtag, ‘#durandam’.

136 eg Human Rights Committee, ‘Concluding Observations on the third periodic report of Kuwait’ (11 August 2016) UN Doc CCPR/C/KWT/CO/3, para 42.

137 eg Human Rights Committee, ‘Concluding Observations on the sixth periodic report of the Dominican Republic’ (27 November 2017) UN Doc CCPR/C/DOM/CO/6, para 31.

138 eg Human Rights Committee, ‘Concluding Observations on the second periodic report of Nepal’ (15 April 2014) UN Doc CCPR/C/NPL/CO/2, para 14.

139 UNSR FoAA, ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai’ (14 April 2014) UN Doc A/HRC/26/29.

140 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by UN GA Res 44/25 of 20 November 1989; entry into force, 2 September 1990, art 15.

141 Nowak (n 10) 483.

142 Text to (n 94–n 98) above.

143 eg Turchenyak v Belarus, Views adopted 24 July 2013, UN Doc CCPR/C/108/D/1948/2010, para 7.4.

144 Sáska v Hungary, Appl No 58050/08, Judgment of 27 November 2012, para 21; Women on Waves v Portugal, Appl No 31276/05, Judgment of 3 February 2009 (French only), paras 30 and 38–39.

145 eg Ruiz, P, Articulating Dissent: Protest and the Public Sphere (Pluto Press 2014) 123f–4Google Scholar; Opp, KD, Theories of Political Protest and Social Movements: A Multidisciplinary Introduction, Critique and Synthesis (Routledge 2009) 82CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

146 Gerbaudo (n 106) 19, 25 and 43; Hardt and Negri (n 23) xiv (reclaiming the concept of ‘entrepreneurship’).

147 Gerbaudo (n 106) 39–40.

148 ibid 12–13.

149 In at least three cases, the Committee has noted (but not further addressed) the author's claim not to have been an assembly organizer—Belyazeka (n 47) paras 2.7 and 5.3; Kim v Uzbekistan (n 47) paras 7.2 and 13.5; Kovalenko v Belarus, Views adopted 17 July 2013, UN Doc CCPR/C/108/D1808/2008, para 5.3.

150 eg Zhagiparov v Kazakhstan, Views adopted 25 October 2018, CCPR/124/D/2441/2014; Sviridov (n 125) para 2.1.

151 ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Voule’, 26 July 2018, UN Doc A/HRC/38/34, para 82.

152 Tulzhenkova v Belarus, Views adopted 26 October 2011, UN Doc CCPR/C/103/D/1838/2008, para 9.3.

153 eg Olechkevitch v Belarus, Views adopted 18 March 2013, CCPR/C/107/D/1785/2008.

154 Katsora (n 50) paras 6.4 and 7.6; Protsko and Tolchin v Belarus (n 50) paras 6.6 and 7.9.

155 Govsha, Syritsa and Mezyak (n 15); Zhagiparov v Kazakhstan (n 150); Melnikov v Belarus, Views adopted 14 July 2017, UN Doc CCPR/C/120/D/2147/2012.

156 Similarly, Concurring Opinion of Committee members, Mr Fabián Salvioli, Mr Yuval Shany and Mr Víctor Rodríguez Rescia in Olechkevitch (n 153) paras 2, 8 and 9.

157 Revised draft of General Comment No 37 (November 2019) para 37.

158 The question of whether such protection ought to be grounded in Article 21 specifically (or the Covenant more generally) is, at the time of writing, unresolved in the revised draft text of General Comment No 37. Consensus on the language was not reached during the first reading of the text of para 34 (as signalled by the inclusion of ‘Article 21’ in parenthesis): ‘The role of journalists, human rights defenders and others involved in monitoring … are entitled to protection under [Article 21 of] the Covenant.’ The first draft of the General Comment stated that: ‘The role of journalists and other monitors … is protected under Article 21 and its related rights.’

159 Najafli v Azerbaijan, Appl No 2594/07, Judgment of 2 October 2012, para 66; Butkevich (n 34) para 122.

160 Zhagiparov (n 150).

161 ibid, para 13.5.

162 UNSR FoAA (n 107) ‘Summary’.

163 OSCE Representative on the Freedom of the Media, ‘Special Report: Handling of the Media during Political Demonstrations—Observations and Recommendations’ (21 June 2007). Though note the arguments in Section IIIB above (text to n 46–n 69).

164 Inazu (n 60) 152.

165 Evrezov, Nepomnyaschikh, Polyakov and Rybchenko v Belarus, Views adopted 10 October 2014, UN Doc CCPR/C/112/D/1999/2010, paras 2.1 and 8.5–8.6. The question is less one of temporal proximity to the assembly but whether the antecedent or subsequent activities are intrinsic to it.

166 eg Navalnyy and Yashin v Russia, Appl No 76204/11, Judgment of 4 December 2014, especially the Concurring Opinion of Judge Pinto de Albuquerque at para 12.

167 Revised draft of General Comment No 37 (November 2019) para 37.

168 Text to (n 107–n 114) above.

169 Advanced by the Human Rights Committee's Rapporteur for the General Comment (Mr Christof Heyns): UN Web TV (n 111) 1.14:00–1.16:40. Two Committee members (Mr Zimmermann and Mr Santos Pais) also spoke in favour of retaining ‘intention’ as an element of the definition.

170 UN Web TV (n 111) 1:16:45–1:39:10.The reservations variously expressed by Committee members regarding ‘intentionality’ were that (1) it complicates the definition and may curtail spontaneous assemblies; (2) it is unclear whose intention is being referred to; (3) the notion of an ‘intentional assembly’ is somewhat tautologous; (4) ‘intention’ has criminal law connotations and might operate to exclude bystanders from protection; and (5) intention adds little to the definition and unhelpfully incorporates a subjective element that might then need to be proven.

171 UN Web TV (n 111) 1:38:55.

172 Importantly, the Committee's revised formulation (‘primarily with an expressive goal’) leaves the door open to non-expressive assemblies. For further critique of a ‘common expressive purpose’ requirement, see M Scheinin, ‘How to Improve the Human Rights Committee Draft General Comment on Freedom of Assembly’ Just Security (13 February 2020).

173 European Court of Human Rights (2019) (n 3) para 14.

174 ibid.

175 Appl No 76204/11, Judgment of 4 December 2014, Concurring Opinion, para 8.

176 ibid.

177 eg Turchenyak (n 143) para. 7.4; Praded (n 46) para. 7.4; Korol (n 11) para 7.5; Kim (n 47) para 13.4.

178 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, section 59. Within the first two years of the Act coming into force, 12 of the 130 PSPOs imposed (across 79 local authority areas) restricted congregating or loitering in groups <> at 4.

179 de Certeau, M, The Capture of Speech and Other Political Writings (University of Minnesota Press 1997) 96Google Scholar.

180 ibid 98–9.

181 Salát (n 61) 4.

182 ibid (original emphasis).

183 ibid.

184 This broadly aligns with Inazu's definition of a group as requiring there to be some shared enterprise. Inazu (n 87) 1094, n 2.

185 eg ‘Thai Army Bans Groups of More than Five People from Gathering’ Reuters (22 May 2014).

186 L Peter, ‘East Germany 1989 – The March that KO'd Communism’ BBC News (14 October 2019).

187 J Motlagh, ‘In Belarus, Clapping Can Be Subversive’ The Atlantic 921 July 2011).

188 ‘Uganda: Police Tear Gas ‘Walk-to-Work’ Protesters’ BBC News (14 April 2011).

189 S Rainsford, ‘Russia Protests: Hundreds Detained during Unauthorised Demonstration’ BBC News (3 August 2019).

190 Revised draft General Comment No 37 (November 2019) at para 14 (under the heading, ‘Scope of the right of peaceful assembly’). By way of comparison, the first draft of the General Comment, at para 15, stated that: ‘Gatherings that primarily have a commercial or social entertainment purpose would not generally fall within the core of what is protected under Article 21, although they may also be otherwise protected.’

191 El-Haj (n 81) 1031.

192 ibid 1031–2.

193 Barendt, E, ‘Freedom of Assembly’ in Beatson, J and Cripps, Y, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Information (Oxford University Press 2000) 168Google Scholar.

194 Fraser, N, ‘Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy’ (1990) 25/26 Social Text 71Google Scholar; similarly, Butler (n 23) 205–6.

195 Inazu (n 60) 5.

196 Post, R, ‘Participatory Democracy and Free Speech’ (2011) 97 VaLRev 486Google Scholar.

197 Balkin, JM, ‘Cultural Democracy and the First Amendment’ (2016) 110 NWULR 1060Google Scholar.

198 Dewey, J, Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. (Collier-Macmillan 1966) 87Google Scholar.

199 cf the revised (November 2019) draft of General Comment No 37 which, at para 36 stated: ‘Given that peaceful assemblies have an expressive function, and political speech enjoys particular protection as a form of expression, it follows that assemblies with a political message should likewise enjoy a heightened level of accommodation and protection.’ Importantly, this paragraph relates to the obligations of States parties rather than the scope of the right (and so arguably is of less concern in conceptual terms).

200 Primov (n 55) paras 134–135.

201 Friend and Others v UK, Appl Nos 16072/06 and 27809/08, 24 November 2009 (admissibility), para 50.

202 ibid; Huseynov v Azerbaijan, Appl No 59135/09 (7 May 2015) para 91; European Court of Human Rights (n 3) para 116.

203 ‘Report of the Drafting Committee on an International Bill of Human Rights’ UN Doc E/CN.4/21, 78 (Annex F): art 23 (emphasis added).

204 UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), ‘General Recommendation No 35: Combating racist hate speech’ (26 September 2013) UN Doc CERD/C/GC/35, para 7 (emphasis added).

205 Abernathy, G, The Right of Assembly and Association (University of South Carolina Press 1961) 109Google Scholar. Also, Mead (n 38) 137 and 152 (albeit in relation to protest).

206 Inazu (n 60) 168.

207 D Zirin, ‘John Carlos Responds to the New Olympics Ban on Political Protest’ The Nation (14 January 2020).

208 C Mindock ‘Taking a Knee: Why Are NFL Players Protesting and When Did They Start to Kneel?’ The Independent (4 February 2019).

209 Borneman, J and Senders, S, ‘Politics without a Head: Is the “Love Parade” a New Form of Political Identification’ (2000) 15(2) Cultural Anthropology 294CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

210 In 2019, tickets for Manchester Pride, headlined by Ariana Grande, cost £71: ‘That's a Bit Rich’ The Guardian (4 February 2019).

211 Text to (n 103) above.

212 Recalling and Fáber (n 24), para 38.

213 Text to (n 114) above.

214 Turchenyak (n 143) para 7.4; Giménez (n 95) para 8.3.

215 eg Popova v The Russian Federation, Views adopted 6 April 2018, UN Doc CCPR/C/122/D/2217/2012, para 7.3.

216 eg Bakur v Belarus, Views adopted 15 July 2015 CCPR/C/114/D/1902/2009.

217 eg Human Rights Committee, ‘Concluding Observations on the Fourth Periodic Report of Algeria’ (17 August 2018) UN Doc CCPR/C/DZA/CO/4, para 45; Human Rights Committee, ‘List of Issues to Be Taken up in Connection with the Consideration of the Second Report of Armenia (22 November 2011) UN Doc CCPR/C/ARM/Q/2, para 24.

218 Such as parking lots or motorways eg Belyazeka (n 47) paras 6.2 and 7.2.

219 eg ‘Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of Turkmenistan’ (20 April 2017) UN Doc CCPR/C/TKM/CO/2, paras 44–45.

220 This was true also of the revised draft text of General Comment 37 published in November 2019—text to (n 110) above.

221 eg German Federal Constitutional Court, Order of 18 July 2015 (‘Beer Can Flashmob for Freedom Decision’), 1 BvQ 25/15; Judgment of the Amsterdam District Court in Shell Netherlands v Greenpeace, Case No 525686/KG ZA 12-1250. See ‘Dutch Court Rejects Shell Protest Ban’ BBC News (5 October 2012).

222 As Massey (n 101) 152 reminds us, the notion of ‘public space’ is often romanticised as an unencumbered ‘emptiness’ freely open to all, whereas it is ‘produced’ through ongoing contestation (and legislation).

223 UNHRC, ‘Resolution 21/16 on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association’ (11 October 2012) UN Doc A/HRC/RES/21/16, para 1; UNHRC ‘Resolution 24/5 on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association’ (8 October 2013) UN Doc A/HRC/RES/24/5, para 2; UNHRC, ‘Resolution 26/13 on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet’ (14 July 2014) UN Doc A/HRC/RES/26/13, para 1. No similar statement appeared in either UNHRC, ‘Resolution 25/38 on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests’ (11 April 2014) UN Doc A/HRC/Res/25/38 or in UNHRC, ‘Resolution 31/37 on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests’ (12 April 2016) UN Doc A/HRC/Res/31/37.

224 ‘Joint report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the proper management of assemblies’ (4 February 2016) UN Doc A/HRC/31/66, para 10.

225 UNHRC, Resolution L.16 on ‘The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests’ (29 June 2018) UN Doc A/HRC/38/L.16: ‘although an assembly has generally been understood as a physical gathering of people, human rights protections, including for the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association, may apply to analogous interactions taking place online.’ For an overview of oral interventions by Council members relating to the Resolution, see ‘Human Rights Council Adopts Six Resolutions, including on Syria, Extends Mandates on Belarus and on Eritrea’ OHCHR (6 July 2018).

226 Hunter, D, ‘Cyberspace as Place and the Tragedy of the Digital Anticommons (2003) 91 CLR 490Google Scholar and n 331; Graham, S, ‘Conceptualizing Space, Place and Information Technology’ (1998) 22(2) Progress in Human Geography 178CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

227 Eg Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and Others v Donald J Trump and others No 18-1691-cv (2d Cir Jul 9, 2019) 16, ll 4–6.

228 For examples, see Inazu (n 87) 1105, n 47.

229 Papacharissi, Z, ‘Affective Publics and Structures of Storytelling: Sentiment, Events and Mediality’ (2016) 19(3) Information, Communication & Society 308CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

230 Consider, for example, a 2018 Nigerian ‘e-Pride event’ hosted on Twitter which people ‘could join from the comfort and security of their homes’. See V Desmond, ‘How the Internet Is Helping Queer Nigerian Youth Push for Pride’ Dazed (28 June 2019).

231 Gerbaudo (n 106) 160 but acknowledging that ‘… Democracia Real Ya and other groups have some of their meetings online, and the Occupy groups use video and voice conferencing services like Mumble to engage in forms of interaction which transcend the limits of location’.

232 Zick (n 100) 3.

233 ICNL, ‘Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on Draft General Comment No 37 (Right of Peaceful Assembly)’ (February 2020).

234 J Cohen, ‘Cyberspace as/and Space’ 107 Colum L Rev 215. Also, Papacharissi (n 229) 310; Inazu (n 87) 1112; Massey (n 101) 96–7.

235 Butler (n 23) 129, 131–2; Hardt and Negri (n 23) 107, 109–110.

236 Zick (n 100) 4.

237 JW Müller, ‘Why Freedom of Assembly Still Matters’ Project Syndicate (November 2018) 13.

238 J Blitzer, ‘Protest by Hologram’ The New Yorker (20 April 2015); T Rainey Smith, ‘Ghosts Assemble for Freedom in South Korea’ Amnesty International (13 March 2016).

239 K O'Flynn, ‘Toys Cannot Hold Protest because They Are Not Citizens of Russia, Officials Rule’ The Guardian (15 February 2012).

240 E Peltier, ‘With Marches Banned, Shoes Carry a Message’ The New York Times (29 November 2015).

241 The distinction is worth considering further. Inazu (n 87) appears to use the terms ‘virtual’ and ‘online’ interchangeably (1096, n 10 and 1113–14).