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UN Special Rapporteur

At the global level, international norms are highly contested. Concepts of state sovereignty, national security and public order, and traditional values are being pushed to challenge the notion of universal rights.  There is a need for a clear articulation of international norms relating to the freedoms of association and assembly.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (UNSR) mandate was established in October 2010 in order to address this need. The UNSR gathers critical information about violations to these freedoms through international consultations and country visits, communicate concerns about those violations to UN Member States, and present annual thematic reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. The CSI strengthens the mandate of the UNSR, Mr. Maina Kiai, by providing technical expertise and human resource support.

Key accomplishments

  • The CSI contributes directly to the content of the UNSR’s thematic reports, including on: (1) civil society’s right to receive resources, including international development cooperation; (2) the freedoms of assembly and association in the context of elections; (3) and most "at risk" groups, through organizing expert and regional consultations and providing input into the reports.
  • The CSI helps enable the UNSR’s consultative process and open dialogue approach on civic space and other human rights issues. With the support of the CSI and other partners, he has brought more than 2,870 diverse civil society actors into the dialogue, even activists from severely restrictive environments like Laos and Vietnam.
  • The CSI helps ensure that the UNSR is able to reach out to people around the world, by supporting a communications officer and website dedicated to his mandate. The website, www.freeassembly.net, serves as a portal for information related to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Indeed, more people access the UNSR’s reports here than through OHCHR’s website.
  • The CSI contributed to a High Level Event on Supporting Civil Society, convened by US President Barack Obama and resulting in a joint commitment of 24 countries to strengthen protection of civil society.
  • The CSI organized successful meetings between the UNSR and Organization of American States (OAS) to advance the implementation of the 2011 OAS Resolution on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.
  • The CSI supported UNSR visits to Malaysia, Rwanda, Burundi, Oman, Cambodia, and Kazakhstan.  Through these visits, the UNSR shared concerns with the host governments and offered solutions, drawing on content gathered in large part from consultations.  For example, during his academic visit to Cambodia, the UNSR raised concerns over a recent ban on public protests; two weeks after the visit, the government lifted the ban. 

This webpage is prepared by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law through the Civic Space Initiative, implemented in partnership with ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the World Movement for Democracy.