Promoting and Protecting the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association and Civic Space Worldwide

Started in June 2020

Context

The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association play a key role in enabling individuals and groups to come together to improve lives and to contribute meaningfully to decision-making processes by governments.

These rights help to foster increased transparency and accountability and are basic prerequisites for the goal of securing substantive enjoyment of all human rights.

Although these two freedoms are guarantee and protected by articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, they have been under intensive attacks in the recent decade. State and non-state actors are devising novel ways to undermine these rights and civic space as a whole both at national and international levels is shrinking.

Measures to limit these rights are often grounded in state security notions that run counter to the very idea of democracy and basic human rights principles. The impact is felt well beyond the organizations attacked to those they serve, defend and support.

Objectives

This project, supported by the Ford Foundation, aims at providing support to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association Clément Voulé by:

  • Addressing emerging issues affecting civic space
  • Developing tools and materials allowing various stakeholders – including states, civil society organizations (CSOs), lawyers and human rights defenders – to promote and defend civic space.

By engaging states on cases, policies, laws and situations of concern, this mandate make states accountable for their decision-making affecting the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and contributes to creating a safe and enabling environment for civil society work worldwide.

Activities

Among other activities, the UN Special Rapporteur will hold consultations with CSOs on emerging issues affecting civic space, including:

  • The climate crisis and the mobilization of youth and other parts of society and the related repression of social movements
  • The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on civic space
  • The internet shutdown and peaceful assembly
  • Women and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

These consultations will inform the future programmatic work of the mandate, especially thematic reports that will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly in 2021.

In addition, the UN Special Rapporteur will provide to states, CSOs and other actors advocacy and implementation material to promote and protect civic space. This material will include, among others:

  • Guidelines on the role of lawyers in peaceful protest
  • Guidelines on CSOs’ participation in the implementation of SDGs
  • The dissemination of the upcoming General Comment 37of the UN Human Rights Committee on freedom of assembly.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

A demonstration Event

Law Enforcement and Digital Technologies: Strengthening Human Rights Safeguards for Facilitation of Peaceful Protests

11 March 2024, 16:00-17:30

This panel discussion will explore how the digital technologies component can help close the protection gap and advance human rights and accountable use of technologies by law enforcement to effectively facilitate peaceful protests.

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View of workshop News

Experts Address Human Rights Challenges Arising from the Use of New and Emerging Technologies in Law Enforcement

20 November 2023

During a workshop on the application and potential misuse of new and emerging digital technologies, including in law enforcement and the management of peaceful assemblies, academics, law enforcement professionals, human rights lawyers and representatives from international organizations and civil society focused on how best human rights can be protected.

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Protest march against police violence in Minneapolis News

New Research Project Addresses the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

25 August 2020

Our new research project will provide substantive support to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association Clément Voulé.

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RESEARCHERS

PIcture of Clément Voule

Clément Voule

Researcher

Clément Nyaletsossi Voule is Researcher at the Geneva Academy and UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.

Joshua Niyo

Joshua Niyo

Associate Research Fellow

Joshua Joseph Niyo is an Associate Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.

Past Events

CIVIC SPACE AND SUSTAINABLE PEACE: The critical role of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in advancing sustainable peace and democratic transitions

11 October 2023, 13:15-14:30

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Breaking the Cycle of Repression Against Activists and Protesters Through Accountability

30 June 2023, 15:30-17:00

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Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protest in Crisis Situations

20 June 2022, 13:15-14:45

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Discussion on the UN Guidelines for Lawyers in Support of Peaceful Assemblies

24 January 2022, 13:30-15:00

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Civic Space and Climate Justice: Launch of the UNSR Thematic Report on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

15 October 2021

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Celebrating Women in Civil Society and Activism

20 October 2020, 15:00-17:00

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Women's Perspectives on a Career in International Law: Navigating Humanitarian Negotiations

7 March 2024, 12:30-13:30

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Event

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13 March 2024, 18:30-21:30

This one-night-only film screening of The Recovery Channel will dissect this intersection and address the human rights violations witnessed in today's mental health care system and practices.

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Environmental Human Rights as a Tool in Early Warning and Conflict Prevention The Role of the Human Rights Council

published on January 2024

Erica Harper, Baïna Ubushieva

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published on December 2023

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