Resolution on on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association adopted at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
CIVICUS welcomes this new resolution on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, which addresses substantive concerns facing civil society today.
Civic space is central to free and vibrant societies, but it needs protecting and defending. Only three per cent of the world’s population live in countries with open civic space, with detention of peaceful protesters, restrictive laws, and excessive use of force amongst the most prevalent civic space violations documented by the CIVICUS Monitor. In this context, a mandate which focuses on association and peaceful assembly is central to the protection of civil society and fundamental freedoms.
The Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association has delivered comprehensive reports on the challenges facing these rights, and we welcome that the resolution reflected these concerns. Restrictions to foreign funding has emerged as an existential threat to civil society worldwide, significantly impacting its ability to carry out its crucial work. The resolution calls upon States to establish and maintain a safe and enabling environment in which civil society actors can operate freely, including by fostering and facilitating their access to financial resources, to ensure that national legislation, policies and practices are in compliance with their international human rights obligations and commitments.
Over the last years, numerous States have adopted or amended laws and regulations constraining the right of civil society organisations to access foreign funding, often under the spurious guise of national security concerns: imposing strict requirements for civil society organisations to access and use foreign funding, as well as increased administrative burdens, and creating harsher penalties for non-compliance. Such laws and regulations have sometimes been applied in a targeted manner to prevent critical voices from continuing to speak out.
The resolution further stresses that access to justice is an integral element of the protection of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Impunity for violations against peaceful protesters is a critical and widespread concern, and hindered access to justice for such violations has a chilling effect on people’s ability to gather and speak out.
We urge States to extend their full support to the Special Rapporteur, and to build on the strong basis provided by this resolution to ensure an enabling environment for civil society worldwide.