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Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Call for a change © UN Photo, Jean Marc Ferré
Mr. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the
rights to freedom of peaceful assembly
and of association

© UN photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

A Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. This position is honorary and the expert is not United Nations staff nor paid for his/her work. The Special Rapporteurs are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

For more on Special Rapporteurs, please refer to Fact Sheet N° 27: Seventeen Frequently Asked Questions about United Nations Special Rapporteurs.


Historical background

In October 2010, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 15/21 in which it:

  • Reaffirm[ed] that everyone has the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and that no one may be compelled to belong to an association;
  • Recognizi[ed] the importance of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to the full enjoyment of civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights;
  • Recogniz[ed] also that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are essential components of democracy, providing individuals with invaluable opportunities to, inter alia, express their political opinions, engage in literary and artistic pursuits; and
  • Recogniz[ed] further that exercising the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association free of restrictions, subject only to the limitations permitted by international law, in particular international human rights law, is indispensable to the full enjoyment of these rights, particularly where individuals may espouse minority or dissenting religious or political beliefs”.

The Human Rights Council renewed its commitment to promote and protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, by adopting resolution 21/16 (October 2012) and resolution 24/5 (October 2013), in which it inter alia:

  • Reiterat[ed] the important role of new information and communications technologies in enabling and facilitating the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and the importance for all States to promote and facilitate access to the Internet and international cooperation aimed at the development of media and information and communications facilities in all countries;
  • Recogniz[ed] the importance of the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association, as well as the importance of civil society, to good governance, including through transparency and accountability, which is indispensible for building peaceful, prosperous and democratic societies;
  • [Declared itself a]ware of the crucial importance of active involvement of civil society in processes of governance that affect the life of people;
  • Remind[ed] States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law;
  • Expresse[d] concern at violations of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association;
  • Emphasize[d] the critical role of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association for civil society, and recognizes that civil society facilitates the achievement of the purposes and principles of the United Nations;
  • Stresse[d] that respect for the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, in relation to civil society, contributes to addressing and resolving challenges and issues that are important to society, such as the environment, sustainable development, crime prevention, human trafficking, empowering women, social justice, consumer protection and the realization of all human rights; and
  • Call[ed] upon States to continue to cooperate fully with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his mandate, to respond promptly to his urgent appeals and other communications and to consider favourably his requests for visits”.

Mandate

Resolution 15/21 established the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, for an initial period of three years. The mandate-holder serves for an initial period of three years, renewable once.

Resolution 24/5 extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years.

The Special Rapporteur is mandated by resolution 15/21:

  • To gather all relevant information, including national practices and experiences, relating to the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, to study trends, developments and challenges in relation to the exercise of these rights, and to make recommendations on ways and means to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in all their manifestations;
  • To incorporate in his or her first report an elaboration of the framework, including seeking the views of States, through which the mandate holder will consider best practices, including national practices and experiences, that promote and protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, taking into account in a comprehensive manner the relevant elements of work available within the Council;
  • To seek, receive and respond to information from Governments, nongovernmental organizations, relevant stakeholders and any other parties who have knowledge of these matters, with a view to promoting and protecting the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association;
  • To integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of the mandate;
  • To contribute to the provision of technical assistance or advisory services by the Office of the High Commissioner to better promote and protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association;
  • To report on violations, wherever they may occur, of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, as well as discrimination, threats or use of violence, harassment, persecution, intimidation or reprisals directed at persons exercising these rights, and to draw the attention of the Council and the High Commissioner to situations of particularly serious concern;
  • To undertake his o or her activities such that the present mandate will not include those matters of specific competence of the International Labour Organization and its specialized supervisory mechanisms and procedures with respect to employers’ and workers’ rights to freedom of association, with a view to avoiding any duplication; and
  • To work in coordination with other mechanisms of the Council, other competent United Nations bodies and human rights treaty bodies, and to take all necessary measures to avoid unnecessary duplication with those mechanisms.

Working methods

In the discharge of his mandate, the Special Rapporteur:

Latest news:


More press releases....

Highlights

New/renewed country requests

Special Rapporteur's statement during US civil society roundtable

Special Rapporteur

Mr. Maina Kiai (Kenya) since 1 May 2011

Contact the Special Rapporteur

Mr. Maina Kiai
Special Rapporteur on the rights
to freedom of peaceful assembly
and of association
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax : + 41 22 917 9006
Email : freeassembly@ohchr.org

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