I set up The Rights Practice from a home office in Paris 16 years ago. As the Chinese Communist Party tightens control and a crackdown on human rights activism leaves many fearful of arrest, it is hard to recall the sense of optimism which prompted my decision to found The Rights Practice in 2002. Having previously run the Great Britain-China Centre, I had worked with many of China's criminal justice reformers and believed The Rights Practice could facilitate the kind of international exchange and learning which all countries need to ensure human rights can be realised in practice.

China's legal scholars and human rights defenders are working in a new environment now. Public calls for reform will be muted. But, the research, the capacity building, the policy advocacy and the representation of politically sensitive cases will go on. And The Rights Practice will carry on engaging with and supporting those brave and determined people in China, and elsewhere in the Asia region, who continue to work to improve the human rights situation on the ground.

As support for human rights is under threat around the world, we believe it is more important than ever to share our experience. In this new era there is a risk that donors and other supporters will turn away, fearing nothing can be achieved. We hope this website will help challenge such pessimism while still reflecting the new reality. We need your support, but we also want to encourage your interest and attention.