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  • Writer's pictureMaria Cahill

Societās hosts International Conference on Freedom of Association at UCC

19 jurisdictions were represented in what we think is the first ever comparative conference on the right to freedom of association.

On 27th and 28th June 2023, an international conference was hosted by University College Cork under the auspices of Professor Maria Cahill’s Societās project, which is supported by Laureate funding from the Irish Research Council.

Entitled “Comparative Perspectives on the Purpose and Potential of Freedom of Association”, the gathering brought together an emerging global network of freedom of association scholars from nineteen different jurisdictions with expertise on how this right is interpreted and applied in those particular contexts.

Presentations focused both on the ways in which constitutions, international treaties and legislations officially protect freedom of association and on the ways that this right is interpreted in practice when disputes arise before the courts.

In what appears to be the very first conference on how freedom of association is protected in comparative perspective, the conference included presentations by experts on freedom of association in Japan, Australia, China, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Poland, Finland, Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Mexico, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American System of Human Rights and the United Nations human rights protections.

The participants reflected on the wide variety of approaches to interpreting and justifying freedom of association, as well as the ways the insights to be gained by considering alternative perspectives.

This hybrid conference built on the work of an earlier online workshop, entitled “Mapping the Legal Landscape of Freedom of Association”, which was held in March and at which the participants considered the nature and state of freedom of association in these jurisdictions.


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