Police Use of Force

Completed in December 2015

Freedom of assembly, specifically for the purpose of protest, concerns every state. A state that obstructs or prevents peaceful protests, deems them unlawful or uses force to disperse or deter them is not only potentially violating the right to freedom of assembly, but also creating conditions that invite violence.

This project aimed to identify best practices in facilitating and enhancing states’ fulfilment of international rules and standards related to police use of force. This body of international law notably comprises international human rights law and criminal justice standards, in particular the 1990 Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (1990 Basic Principles).

In April 2013 the Geneva Academy organized – with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – an international expert meeting in Vienna on police use of force and the 1990 Basic Principles.

Follow-up regional meetings took place in Africa, the Americas and the Middle East / North Africa between 2013 and 2015. These discussed the 1990 Basic Principles and identified failures and good operational practices in domestic regulations and policing practices in the context of peaceful protests.

Research Team

This research project was carried out by Stuart Casey-Maslen and Milena Costas Trascasas.



In February 2015 the Geneva Academy organized a panel event to launch Academy Briefing No. 5, Facilitating Peaceful Protests. The Briefing takes stock of existing international standards and case law and provides examples of good and poor state practice.