The Rights of the Individual

Human Rights

Human rights cover many areas of Government activity and no one bureau can undertake responsibility for all of them. There is therefore a need for a co-ordinating function to enable the Government to make a coherent assessment of the way in which human rights are implemented in practice. That role had been the responsibility of the Home Affairs Bureau since 1993, when the Bureau conducted a government-wide review of all legislation in the light of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (BORO) (pdf). The review led to the amendment of some forty legal provisions. Now, all legislation that predates the BORO conforms with its provisions. So too must all new legislation.

Following the re-organization of the Government Secretariat with effect from 1 July 2007, matters relating to human rights have now been placed under the purview of the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB).

Human Rights Reporting

The United Nations Human Rights Council conducts a Universal Periodic Review on the human rights situation of all member states of the United Nations. The HKSAR's report was submitted to the UN as part of China's report in November 2008. The related hearing was held on 9 February 2009. Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review was adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2009. The HKSAR's report (Second Cycle) was submitted to the UN as part of China's report in August 2013, and the related hearing was held on 22 to 25 October that year. The HKSAR's report (Third Cycle) was submitted to the UN as part of China's report in August 2018, and the related hearing was held on 6 and 9 November 2018. The HKSAR’s report (Fourth Cycle) was submitted to the UN as part of China’s report in October 2023.

A total of 15 United Nations human rights treaties apply to Hong Kong. Seven entail a reporting requirement. The treaties that do not entail that requirement are at Annex. The treaties that do so are the :

Hearing of Reports

HKSAR teams attend the hearings of our reports as part of the relevant Chinese delegation, except in the case of the ICCPR which they attend in their own right by special arrangement between the Central People's Government and the UN. At the hearings, delegates answer questions put to them by the UN Committees. Thereafter, we are responsible for publicising the Committees' concluding observations, except for the CEDAW, CRPD and CRC. The CEDAW is under the responsibility of HYAB and the CRPD and CRC are under the responsibility of LWB. Before and after the hearings, relevant Panel of the Legislative Council usually convenes special meetings at which representatives of Government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) exchange views on the issues with Legislative Councillors.

Human Rights Forum

The Human Rights Forum has its origins in the NGO briefings that we hold during the consultations that we hold prior to drafting our reports under the UN human rights treaties. The purpose of those briefings is to inform interested organisations of the form and procedure of the reporting process and to encourage them to submit views in writing. The briefings continue but, in recent years, participants have expressed the wish for more regular meetings with the Government in which discussion would focus on substantive human rights issues. Against this background, the first meeting of the Forum was held in October 2003. Please click here for the recent notes of meeting and papers.