The Rights Practice was founded to help bridge the gap between human rights law and everyday practice. Drawing on many years of experience engaging with Chinese colleagues, our founder, Nicola Macbean, saw a need to help local partners address the legal, social, institutional and political complexities of putting human rights into practice.

Established in 2002, our first work focused on juvenile justice. Bringing together a multi-disciplinary team of experts with backgrounds in policing, youth offending, and child rights we held a series of workshops with colleagues in Shanghai to explore how criminal justice systems can protect children in conflict with the law. Study visits, research and training introduced Chinese colleagues to the British practice of requiring an appropriate adult to be present when children are interviewed by police. The idea was adopted in the 2012 Chinese criminal procedure law.   

Learning, sharing and critical reflection remain as important as ever in advancing respect for human rights. The environment in which we work in China has, however, changed in recent years. The authorities are less supportive of international cooperation and more ambivalent about universal values. Nevertheless, many academics, lawyers and local NGOs remain eager to learn about international law and practice as they seek to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law. Our work now focuses on building their capacity to be effective agents for reform.

See the governance pages for more information about us.