A crowd of demonstrators. Photo by Alex Radelich on Unsplash

Second Reading of Draft General Comment No. 37 on Article 21 (Right of Peaceful Assembly) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The Human Rights Committee has now begun its second—and final—reading of Draft General Comment No. 37 on the right of peaceful assembly.

In March 2020, during its 128th Session, the Committee began the second public reading after receiving written and oral input on the first draft they adopted in 2019 by states, national human rights institutions, international organizations, academia and civil society. [See “Comments” linked below.] At this session, the Committee discussed the first seven paragraphs of draft General Comment 37 and provisionally adopted new wording for these paragraphs. The Committee will continue the second reading during the 129th Session in June/July 2020 and plans to complete the adoption of the new General Comment during 2020.

The revised draft General Comment No. 37 is available in:

The Drafting and Adoption of General Comment No. 37:

The process of writing General Comment No. 37 began with half-day discussion hosted by the Committee during its 125th session in March 2019. The Committee invited national human rights institutions, civil society, academia and international organizations to provide relevant information to be taken into consideration by the Committee during the preparation of the first draft.

The Committee then prepared a draft and commenced its first reading of the draft during its 126th Session. They completed the first reading of the draft general comment at the 127th session in November 2019.

In advance of the second reading, the Committee invited all interested stakeholders to comment, this time on the new draft. In addition to the written contributions received [See “Comments” linked below], the Committee heard oral inputs from Member States and other stakeholders during its 128th Session in Geneva.

The Committee will formally adopt General Comment No. 37 upon the completion of the second reading.


UN Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement (2019) [available in English]

Laws on the Right of Peaceful Assembly Worldwide, an online resource collated by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (2019)[available in English]

Law on Police Use of Force Worldwide, an online resource collated by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (2018) [available in English]

Library of UN and Regional Materials on Freedom of Assembly, an online resource collated by ICNL & ECNL (2019) [available in English]

Protest and Human Rights: Standards on the rights involved in social protest and the obligations to guide the response of the State, a report by the IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (2019) [available in English and Spanish]

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa (2017) [available in English and French]

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Guidelines for the Policing of Assemblies by Law Enforcement Officials in Africa (2017) [available in English/French/Portuguese/Arabic (one document)]



UN organizations, specialized agencies, and experts

Academia and other professionals

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and other national institutions

NGOs/Civil Society stakeholders

Country-specific information