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Hong Kong's Human Rights Meltdown

A seminar co-organised by the Transnational Law Institute and the Hong Kong Studies Association 

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Background: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was once regarded as an exceptional case enjoying a rule of law regime under authoritarianism. As a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China enjoying a high degree of autonomy, its Basic Law expressly provided that the United Nation's International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force, and the human rights enshrined in these covenants are expressly protected. Yet, in the last few years, and particularly after the enactment of the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL) in mid-2020, there are rising anxieties about the erosion of these fundamental rights and widespread concerns about the government rigorously enforcing the NSL after its enactment.

This summer, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the treaty body monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), issued a concluding observation expressing serious concerns about Hong Kong's growing legal repression and human rights violations in the NSL’s aftermath. Are the Committee' concluding observations fair? Do they adequately address the challenges and opportunities of Hong Kong's human rights regime? How can scholars, lawyers and human rights defenders in the global community support the international human rights regime in advancing human rights protection in Hong Kong in light of intensified repression under the leadership of PRC President Xi Jinping, whose third term in office is expected to be announced in October 2022? This seminar discusses the implications of the UN ICCPR review on post-NSL Hong Kong from the perspective of academics and stakeholders concerned about the future of human rights in Hong Kong.


Johannes Chan (main speaker) is a Visiting Professor of University College London, and formerly Chair of Public Law of the Faculty of Law, the University of Hong Kong. Specialised in constitutional, administrative and human rights law, he has published widely in these fields. He is formerly the BOK Visiting International Professor of Penn Law School, University of Pennsylvania, Herbert Smith Freehills Visiting Professor of Cambridge University, and a visiting fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University. He is also the first and so far the only Honorary Senior Counsel in Hong Kong. As a barrister, he has appeared as leading counsel in many major public law cases.

Heidi Wang-Kaeding (chair) is Lecturer in International Relations at Keele University. She is the co-founder of the Hong Kong Studies Association. Heidi obtained her doctoral degree from the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Before she joined Keele, she was Assistant Professor in Asian Politics at Trinity College Dublin. Her current project, funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation, examines complexity and empathy in international politics through a documentary film project on Hong Kong.

Eric Lai (discussant) is formerly the Hong Kong Law Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, and currently a PhD researcher in Law at SOAS University of London. He is also a member of the Asian Civil Society Research Network in the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on law and politics, legal activism, social movement and international human rights. He has worked as a university lecturer and a civil society organiser in Hong Kong, and formerly a visiting fellow at the Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong.

Linda Wong (discussant) is a barrister-at-law in Hong Kong from 2002. Her practice includes civil and criminal law with special focus in human rights related cases, and she has worked as a university lecturer. Over the years, she has been a vocal supporter and advocate of human rights issues, with particular interest in gender equality and freedom of expression.

Eva Pils (discussant) is Professor of Law at King's College London, an affiliated scholar at the US-Asia Law Institute of New York University Law School, and an external member of the Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg. Before joining King’s in 2014, Eva was an associate professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law.

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Professor Eva Pils

Professor of Law

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