Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, A/HRC/20/27, 21 May 2012
III. BEST PRACTICES RELATED TO THE RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND OF ASSOCIATION
A. Common principles
1. Legal framework
13. Resolution 15/21 reaffirms that “everyone has the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association” (emphasis added). This provision must be read jointly with article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates that “each State Party undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (emphasis added), and article 26 thereof, which guarantees to all individuals equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds identified in article 2. This applies inter alia to minors, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, persons belonging to minority groups or other groups at risk, including those victims of discrimination because of their sexual orientation and gender identity (see Council resolution 17/19), non-nationals including stateless persons, refugees or migrants, as well as associations, including unregistered groups. The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are key human rights in international human rights law, which are enshrined in article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
C. Best practices related to the right to freedom of association
3. The right to operate freely and to be protected from undue interference
- Negative obligation
64. Furthermore, States have a negative obligation not to unduly obstruct the exercise of the right to freedom of association. Members of associations should be free to determine their statutes, structure and activities and make decisions without State interference (e.g. legislation in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia). Associations pursuing objectives and employing means in accordance with international human rights law should benefit from international legal protection. Associations should enjoy, inter alia, the rights to express opinion, disseminate information, engage with the public and advocate before Governments and international bodies for human rights, for the preservation and development of a minority’s culture or for changes in law, including changes in the Constitution. The Special Rapporteur recognizes that the formation of associations embracing minority or dissenting views or beliefs may sometimes lead to tensions, but he emphasizes the duty of the State to ensure that everyone can peacefully express their views without any fear. For instance, in Lesotho, the Registrar General registered the first ever lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization in the country called Matrix in November 2010 (after numerous delays).
IV. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A. General recommendations
84. The Special Rapporteur calls upon States:
- To ensure that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are enjoyed by everyone and any registered or unregistered entities, including women, youth, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, persons belonging to minority groups or groups at risk, including those victims of discrimination because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, non-nationals, as well as activists advocating economic, social, and cultural rights.
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