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The Right to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly & Association

GIHR welcomes resolution number 15/21 of the UN Council for Human Rights on ratifying “the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”, especially since this resolution was adopted without voting, i.e. by unanimous agreement of all 47 states which form the membership of the UN Council for Human Rights, of which seven are Arab countries, visa-viz: Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Libya, and Mauritania.

The importance of this resolution, which includes the establishment of a Special Rappoteur for the Right to Freedom of Assembly and Association, stems from the context of new developments witnessed by the Arab and world fronts especially what has been seen in Tunisia and Egypt, which confirm the need to enact this right and to work towards being committed to, enforced and protected by UN member states.

The UN Council for Human Rights will name in its sixteenths session during 28 Feb – 25 March, the incumbent of the Special Rappoteur for the Right to Freedom of Assembly and Association, where the tenure of this rappoteur will extend for three years. Various countries, including Mexico, Indonesia, USA, and Nigeria, had earlier submitted a proposal to the council to create this new position.

The details of the resolution 21/15 calls upon states to respect and fully protect the right of all persons to freedom of assembly and association, especially during elections, while requesting the High Commission for Human Rights to support states to reinforce and protect this right through the technical support programs it offer and through cooperation with relevant stakeholders. The resolution also urges civil society organizations and other stakeholders to enhance and protect the right to freedom of association and assembly, recalling that the exercise of this right can be subject, according to the international convention on civil and political rights and the international convention on economic social and cultural rights, to certain limits provided by law, which are vital in democracies to preserve national security or public safety or maintaining law and order.

The resolution also spells out the responsibilities of the Special Rapporteur for the Right to Freedom of Assembly and Association which include: collection of all relevant data; study of trends, developments, and challenges related to the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly and association; making recommendations on the necessary measure and means to enhance and protect this right; to include in his/her first report a framework for best practice to enhance these rights; seek to obtain necessary information from governments, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders; mainstream a gender perspective in all tasks he/she undertakes; contribute to technical support and consultation services rendered by the UN High Commission on Human Rights to enhance and protect this right; submit reports on violations related to his/her work wherever they arise; alert the council and the high commission to cases of special concern; work  in collaboration with other mechanisms of the councils, together with other UN specialized agencies, institutions of human rights conventions, and the ILO to avoid overlap between the tasks of all these mechanisms.

The new rapporteur will submit an annual report to the UN Council for Human Rights covering activities related to her/his mandate, where both the UN General Secretary and the High Commissioner will provide all human and funding resources necessary for the effective implementation of this new jurisdiction.

GIHR joins the UN Council for Human Rights in requesting all states to cooperate with the new rapportuer and extend all necessary support to accomplish his/her duties, providing him/her with all necessary information, and to promptly respond to any urgent calls, or any other form of reporting, he/she might make. It calls upon the High Commissioner, all relevant special procedures related to the council, and institutions of human rights conventions, to be more concerned, within their respective mandates, with cases of persons denied their right to freedom of assembly and association.

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