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U.S. Introduces Resolution on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
September 26, 2013

The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Statement of the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

UN Human Rights Council – 24th Session
Geneva, September 26, 2013

(Note: The Resolution was Adopted by Consensus)

Mr. President and fellow members:

Civil society organizations and related associations are facing an ongoing assault around the world.  On the margins of the UN General Assembly earlier this week, President Obama and numerous like-minded government leaders, as well as the UN, foundations, and civil society organizations met to voice their concern about the global deterioration in the environment for civil society and agreed to take additional steps to address it.  To that end, they noted in particular the importance of the mandate to be extended by the resolution we would like to introduce today, resolution A/HRC/24/L.7 “The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.”

We direct you to the oral revision that has been circulated.

We present this resolution for adoption along with the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Mexico, and Nigeria, and 60 co-sponsors including Angola, Botswana, Brasil, Egypt, Guatemala, Libya, Macedonia, Moldova, New Zealand, Panama, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Togo, and Uruguay.  The resolution’s purpose is to support the work of the Special Rapporteur on these rights.

This resolution extends his mandate and marks the third specific resolution on this issue.  We want to thank our core-group for their hard work on this text and for continuing to emphasize the importance of this issue in the Human Rights Council.

Three years ago, we joined Council colleagues in supporting the creation of a new special rapporteur on these rights.  Now we present an extension of his mandate in order to continue the vital work he has undertaken on this issue.  In May of this year we welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s annual report, which focused particularly on the undue restrictions relating to funding of associations and holding peaceful assemblies.  We also look forward to the presentation of his report before the UN General Assembly on October 29, which will focus on elections, and highlight the importance of protecting the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, particularly during the time before, during, and after an election.

We bring this resolution before the council to reaffirm the necessity of the protection of such rights and to encourage countries around the world to engage with the Special Rapporteur.  The resolution, among other provisions, calls upon states to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his mandate, to respond promptly to his urgent appeals and other communications, and to consider favorably his requests for visits.

Finally, we would like to re-affirm that the strength and vibrancy of nations depend on an active civil society and robust engagement between governments and civil society to advance shared goals of peace, prosperity, and the well-being of all.  We note our deep concern that many governments are restricting civil society and the rights of freedom of association and expression, both online and offline.

We look forward to working with other Council members in the upcoming year on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and we urge the Council to adopt this resolution by consensus.

Thank you.