- Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
- No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
Freedom of peaceful assembly and association ensures that people can gather publicly and privately. These assemblies can be used to advocate for change, raising awareness on topics important to them, or simply to connect over common or opposite interests. It also covers the right to peaceful protests and demonstrations.
“Participating in peaceful protests is an alternative to violence and armed force, as a means of expression and change, which we should support. It must thus be protected, and protected robustly.” This quote was said by former UN rapporteur Maina Kiai. To understand it, it should be seen in accordance with article 19, Freedom of Opinion, and Expression. The point being, that article 19 gives people the right to form and express their opinions and this article gives the same people a place and room to express and amplify it. Assembly and association promote debate and discussion within a community, country, or even across the world, which makes it a vital part of a democracy.
However, it’s a right violated in a lot of countries. According to the United Nations, “1,019 human rights defenders were killed in 61 countries across the world from 2015 to 2017. And that is only the tip of the iceberg as many killings are not reported and countless other human rights defenders were subjected to intimidation, harassment, criminalization, arbitrary detention, torture, forced disappearance and other human rights abuses.”
As an example, Human Rights Watch highlighted that dozens of journalists in Moscow, Russia faced fines or detention for peacefully protesting in solidarity with their colleagues whom authorities are criminally prosecuting for their journalism work.
Written by Nanna Orloff Mortensen and Natalia Colmenar