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Protecting Civil Society in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities for the Rule of Law

Event Details

Time: 18:00-19:30 (Registration from 17.30)

Venue: British Institute of International and Comparative Law, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5JP

Event Presentations

Civil society is increasingly marginalised by governments around the world. This is profoundly troubling as civil society plays a critical role in promoting the rule of law and all human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and in holding governments to account. The global civil society alliance CIVICUS recently reported that serious violations of one or more of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association took place in 109 countries in 2015. Restrictions on civil society also raise issues under core rule of law principles, including legal certainty, the prohibition of arbitrariness, non-discrimination, equality before the law, access to justice and human rights protection. Moreover, instances where governments fail to implement laws and court judgments protecting civil society also undermine the rule of law.

This event will examine the problems and how they might be addressed. It will look at restrictions faced by civil society organisations in Europe, and it will provide an opportunity to hear leading experts consider opportunities for challenging barriers to an effective civil society and practical ways to create supportive frameworks. It will examine responses from the Council of Europe and European Union at a regional level; access to justice for civil society through the lens of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights; and examples of successful reforms in European countries at a domestic level.


  • Adrian Di Giovanni (Senior Program Specialist, Law & Development at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and International Visiting Fellow, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law)


  • Richard Clayton QC (UK member, Venice Commission; Deputy High Court Judge; and 4-5 Gray's Inn Square)
  • Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans (Executive Director, The European Center for Not-for-Profit Law)
  • Natacha Kazatchkine (Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society European Policy Institute)
  • Philip Leach (Professor of Human Rights Law, School of Law, Middlesex University London; and Director of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC))
  • Kersty McCourt (Senior Advocacy Advisor, Open Society Justice Initiative)

Download the programme and speaker biographies

Event convened by: Lucy Moxham (Associate Senior Research Fellow, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law)

Download the event flyer

Read the event paper

Join the conversation @BinghamCentre #civilsociety

CPD Accreditation

This event is accredited for 1.5 CPD hours.

Registration and Pricing

BIICL Members:

  • Individual - £40
  • Full-time Academic - £25
  • Full-time Student - £15


  • Individual - £70
  • Full-time Academic - £45
  • Full-time Student - £25

N.B. The Academic rate also applies to staff of government and non-profit organisations.

Free NGO Places

A limited number of places for this event are available for staff of NGOs to attend free of charge as part of an initiative by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law to provide NGOs with access to legal education and training events.

Please email our Events Team at with your contact details, your position and the NGO that you work for. We will organise your attendance, subject to availability.


If you have any queries, please contact the events team.

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