The Human Rights Council during its 50th session in June 2021, adopted resolution 50/21 mandating the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to develop “specific technical and practical tools to assist law enforcement in promoting and protecting human rights in the context of peaceful protests”. The resolution, while raising deep concerns over numerous human rights violations committed by State and non-State actors in the context of peaceful protests, recognised the important role of law enforcement in promoting and protecting human rights in the context of protests.
To strengthen the capacity of and assist law enforcement bodies to enable and facilitate the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of protests, the resolution requested the Special Rapporteur to develop the said practical tools in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The resolution further requested the Special Rapporteur to engage in global and regional consultations when developing these tools and “to seek the views of States, other relevant entities of the United Nations Secretariat, other relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, intergovernmental organizations, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders, including practitioners, such as law enforcement practitioners.” The Special Rapporteur will present these technical and practical tools at the 55th session of the Human Rights Council.
This request for the development of practical tools to assist the law enforcement in facilitating peaceful protests corresponds to the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur in his report presented to the Human Rights Council at its 50th session in June 2022, on the Protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests during crisis situations (A/HRC/50/42), pursuant to resolution 44/20.
In his report, the Special Rapporteur raised the following human rights concerns in the context of protests, that were echoed by the subsequent Human Rights Council resolution 50/21: extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions; arbitrary arrests and detention; enforced disappearances; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, in the context of protests; targeting of journalists and other media workers, monitors, lawyers, other observers, such as human rights defenders, and medical personnel while engaging in their legitimate activities during protests; excessive use of force by law enforcement and militarisation of policing of protests such as during crisis situations; as well as arbitrary and unlawful surveillance, both in physical spaces and online, of individuals engaged in peaceful protest. The resolution further highlights that women, children, youth, LGBTI persons, indigenous peoples, migrants, persons of African descent, persons belonging to minorities, persons with disabilities and other persons belonging to groups who are discriminated against and marginalized, are particularly vulnerable to unlawful police use of force while taking part in protests.
The need to provide practical tools to law enforcement in order to enable officers to better perform their important duties related to facilitating peaceful protests, in accordance with international human rights law and standards, has also been requested and supported by law enforcement practitioners from across all regions. This request was expressed during previous consultations conducted by the Special Rapporteur with law enforcement practitioners from around the world in the framework of the preparation of his report on protecting human rights in the context of peaceful protests in crisis situations, as per HRC resolution 44/20.
The Special Rapporteur will further consult closely with law enforcement practitioners in different regions when developing the said “specific technical and practical tools”, as requested by resolution 50/21. The Special Rapporteur, in collaboration with OHCHR and UNODC, is planning to hold five regional consultations with law enforcement practitioners and experts as well as with civil society activists, which will inform these practical tools.
To inform the development of specific technical and practical tools to assist law enforcement bodies in promoting and protecting human rights while facilitating peaceful protests, as per UN Human Rights Council resolution 50/21. The tools, which will be reflective of global and regional experiences and positive practices, will be presented by the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council at its 55th Session.
Key questions and types of input/comments sought
The questionnaires below solicit information with a view to gathering examples of protocols, guidelines, and other tools available to law enforcement relevant for facilitation of the right to peaceful assembly, as well as positive examples of strategies, measures, and practices undertaken by law enforcement around the world in promoting and protecting human rights in the context of peaceful protests (such as the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of association, freedom of expression, the right to life, freedom from torture and ill-treatment, protection from sexual and other gender-based violence, arbitrary detention, and other serious violations committed against protesters and activists in the context of protests).
The provided inputs will be used to assist the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in preparing the practical tools for law enforcement as requested by the Human Rights Council resolution 50/21.
Responses received may be made publicly available on the OHCHR website unless indicated otherwise in the submission. Please clearly state in your response if you would like your submission to remain confidential.
The questionnaire for Member States is available in English | Français | Español
The questionnaire for civil society and other actors is available in English | Français | Español