Call for inputs from the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association for his report to be presented at the 74th session of the General Assembly

“The impact of restrictions to the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in development

The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Voule, invites you to provide input with the view of informing his forthcoming thematic report to the UN General Assembly at its 74th session to be presented in October 2019.

Last year, the Special Rapporteur presented a report to the General Assembly at its 73rd session on linkages between the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/73/279). In this report the Special Rapporteur highlighted the importance of the exercise of these rights as enablers in facilitating the participation of civil society to contribute to the implementation of Agenda 2030. The Special Rapporteur stressed that a commitment to achieve the 2030 Agenda should effectively be translated into a commitment to expand and maintain civic space.

As follow up to this previous report, the Special Rapporteur seeks to examine the effects of limitations to the rights of freedom to peaceful assembly and of association on development. The report will aim to present the different ways in which the exercise of these rights contributes to development and explore the costs and negative impacts of limitations placed on these freedoms.

The Special Rapporteur believes that unlawful and illegitimate restrictions to the rights to peaceful assembly and association reduce the space where people can articulate their voices and get organized around shared interests which could affect policies of development that take into account the voices of all, including those of groups most at risk. Furthermore, limitations to these rights may have a negative effect on sustainable development, including by inhibiting the reduction of poverty and equitable economic growth. Such restrictions could also generate an environment in which there is a heightened risk of social conflict and violence. The Special Rapporteur is particularly concerned that undue limitations to these freedoms are likely to have disproportionate and severe effects on the poorest and most marginalized groups in society and could further hinder all efforts to reduce inequalities.

In addition to examining State’s obligations in this field, the Special Rapporteur is interested in exploring the role of private business, international financial institutions and cooperation agencies/donors in development efforts to the protection and promotion of the rights to peaceful assembly and association.

The Special Rapporteur is interested in collecting information from States, civil society, national human rights institutions, donors, private businesses, and other interested stakeholders focusing on one or more of the following:

  1. Areas of sustainable development in which civil society actors have a significant positive impact. In particular, extent to which civil society contributes to the following development outcomes and goals: (i) reduction of poverty; (ii) gender equality; (iii) improved working conditions and economic growth; (iv) quality of education and access to good health; (v) reduced inequalities; (vi) environmental development and (vii) peace, democracy and rule of law.
  2. Examples or case studies where restrictions to the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association have limited the achievement of development. In particular, examples of studies that illustrate the economic, social and environmental costs of: (i) the application of legislation to suppress the exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; (ii) the excessive use of force to counter or repress peaceful protests; (iii) the restrictions targeting marginalized and groups most at risk; and (iv) obstructions related to the access and use of digital technologies for assembly and association purposes.
  3. The extent to which existing data and development indicators measure the impact of the restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association on the achievement of development. In particular, recommendations for how to improve the availability of data and research in this area.
  4. The role of international financial institutions, donors, international cooperation agencies, as well as private businesses in the creation and maintenance of civic space in the context of development. In particular, analysis of current challenges and examples of best practices.

Please substantiate your responses with examples or case studies that the Special Rapporteur could showcase in his report.

Submissions will be posted on the OHCHR website at the time of the report’s publication, except those containing a clear request not to be made public. Please send submissions, not exceeding 2000 words, no later than 2 July 2019 to freeassembly@ohchr.org using the email title: “GA74: Submission for FoAA and Development".