Freedom of Assembly

Course Description: 

State authorities have an obligation to protect and facilitate peaceful assemblies – from temporary encampments and 'occupations' to far-right rallies, from Pride parades to funeral pickets, and from ‘Critical Mass’ bicycle rides to prayer vigils in public places. This course will examine the ways in which law can protect the right to peacefully assemble, as well as the ways in which assemblies are commonly regulated (often, ‘in the shadow of law’). What kinds of assembly are, or ought to be, protected? What kind of regulation is, or might legitimately be, permitted? How should the authorities respond to spontaneous and/or unorganized gatherings, simultaneous demonstrations and counter-protests, or assemblies on private property? Through critical reflection upon recent examples of assembly regulation (including those from countries in which students have a particular interest), the course will explore the values which underlie the protection of this freedom and the practical challenges that arise in its facilitation. Ultimately, the course seeks to provide a thorough grounding in the core standards governing the legal protection of the right to peaceful assembly.

Learning Outcomes: 

1. Ability to think critically at a basic level;

2. Ability to demonstrate substantial understanding ofcore Strasbourg freedom of assembly jurisprudence;

3. Ability to explain the main justifications underlying freedom of assembly, and relate these theoretical arguments to key cases;

4. Ability to demonstrate knowledge of the scope of the right to freedom of assembly;

5. Ability to interrogate case law and distinguish between majority and dissenting judgments;

6. Ability to apply legal knowledge to problem scenarios;

7. Ability to construct well-reasoned and supported legal arguments at a basic level;

8. Ability to critique legislation and to draft legal opinions.


The final grade will be based on a written assignment (40%), and a final examination (60%). In-class participation may also be taken into account where a student obtains a borderline grade. All classes require advance reading and preparation.