Everyone has the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, which are essential components of democracy. The right of peaceful assembly includes the right to hold meetings, sit-ins, strikes, rallies, events or protests, both offline and online. The right to freedom of association involves the right of individuals to interact and organize among themselves to collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. This includes the right to form trade unions. Freedom of peaceful assembly and of association serve as a vehicle for the exercise of many other rights guaranteed under international law, including the rights to freedom of expression and to take part in the conduct of public affairs. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association is protected by article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
UN Human Rights has a mandate to promote and protect the right of peaceful assembly and association. This involves providing technical advice, tools and guidance to all stakeholders on measures needed to facilitate and protect the enjoyment of these rights as well as conducting monitoring and reporting on how these rights are protected in practice. We also provide advice and monitoring of the management of protests, including on the use of force and supporting the promotion of dialogue to address the issues that underlie protests. Additionally, our work involves advising on the enabling environment and legal framework needed for the operation of associations.
General Comment on the right to peaceful assembly
The Human Rights Committee published its interpretation of Article 21: The Right of peaceful assembly in July 2020, after an 18-month process involving two readings and hundreds of comments from States, civil society, national human rights institutions, academics and other UN agencies.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE
Summary of the panel discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, with a particular focus on achievements and contemporary challenges - Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Hum
Who else is involved
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
The Special Rapporteur’s mandate was created to gather and share information about global, regional and local trends and issues relating to peaceful assembly and association. It also makes recommendations on how to ensure the promotion and protection of these rights, and reports on violations, as well as discrimination, threats or use of violence, harassment, persecution, intimidation or reprisals directed at persons exercising these rights.
Human Rights Committee
The Human Rights Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties. The right to peaceful assembly and association is within its scope.
News and statements
20 Feb 2024
Belarus: UN experts concerned about new law on freedom of conscience and religious organisations
22 Jan 2024
Hong Kong SAR: UN experts urge authorities to drop all charges against Jimmy Lai, call for his release
22 Jan 2024
Eswatini: UN experts commemorate human rights defender Thulani Maseko, deplore lack of accountability for his killing
31 January 2024
A/HRC/55/60: Model Protocol for Law Enforcement Officials to Promote and Protect Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protests
27 July 2023
A/78/246: Importance of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in advancing sustainable peace and democratic transitions
23 June 2023
A/HRC/53/38/Add.4: General principles and guidelines on ensuring the right of civil society organizations to have access to resources - Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
23 June 2023
A/HRC/53/38/Add.3: Advancing the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association of workers in the informal economy - Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
23 May 2023