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Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context

2019_03_15 CLSGC and EUPLANT Seminar on Legal advocacy as liberal resistance: the experience of China’s human rights lawyers

15 March 2019

Time: 4:00 - 6:00pm
Venue: Room 313, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS



China’s human rights lawyers, a relatively small group of legal professionals who emerged in the post-Mao era, insist that the Party-State follow the law in all cases, including those deemed ‘sensitive’ by the authorities. Throughout their existence, they have faced a repressive system that treats their advocacy as criminal acts of disobedience and subversion. In the Xi Jinping era, the contrast between their liberal outlook and a system in authoritarian (or neo-totalitarian) regression has become sharper, and rights defenders are now increasingly treated as enemies. Drawing on examples of repression including the so-called 709 crackdown on human rights lawyers, I argue that as they are pushed to engage in legal resistance, the lawyers draw on, and test the boundaries of, the right of resistance as a human right.

Short bio

Eva Pils is Professor of Law at King’s College London. She studied law, philosophy and sinology in Heidelberg, London and Beijing and holds a PhD in law from University College London. She is author of China's human rights lawyers: advocacy and resistance (Routledge, 2014) and of Human rights in China: a social practice in the shadows of authoritarianism (Polity, 2018). 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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