An official website of the United States government

Ambassador Harper: Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Promote Broadmindedness, Diversity, and Tolera
June 17, 2016

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association – FOAA and Ed Clustered Interactive Dialogue

As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council

Human Rights Council Session 32,
June 17, 2016

The promotion and protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights are essential to the long-term stability and health of every state.  We agree with Special Rapporteur Kiai that the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association promote broadmindedness, diversity, and tolerance, and that these rights must be protected for everyone.  When everyone has the ability to associate freely, the resulting creativity and imagination can push society forward.  Progress depends on the ability of individuals to coalesce around shared goals, and harness the power of their convictions.

But when governments crack down on the right of individuals to work together, societies fall into stagnation and decay.  In the past six years we have seen, with alarming and increasing frequency, such attempts to restrict the fundamental freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association.  While we did not always share Special Rapporteur Kiai’s understandings and recommendations, we think his work has been vitally important and thank him for his six years of service, and in particular his important reminders to all of us that protecting the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association requires constant vigilance.


Drawing on your observations of the past six years, where are the most critical elements for protecting the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association?