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UN Human Rights Council Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protests

GE. 18 -11658 (E)

Human Rights Council
Thirty -eighth session
18 June –6 July 2018
Agenda item 3
Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 6 July
2018
38/11. The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of
peaceful protests
The Human Rights Council ,
Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
Reaffirming also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and recalling relevant
international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rig hts,
and other relevant regional human rights instruments,
Recalling the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,
Recalling also the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals,
Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Univ ersally Recognized Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,
Reaffirming that, consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, States
Members of the United Nations have pledged to achieve, in cooperation with the United
Nations, the promotion of u niversal respect for and observance of human rights and
fundamental freedoms for all without distinction such as race, colour, sex, language,
religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,
Recalling its decision 17/120 of 17 June 2011 and its resolutions 19/35 of 23 March
2012, 22/10 of 21 March 2013, 25/38 of 28 March 2014 and 31/37 of 24 March 2016 on the
promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, and other
relevant re solutions of the Human Rights Council,
Recognizing that, pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discriminat ion, the rights to freedom of peaceful
assembly, of expression and of association are human rights guaranteed to all, while their
exercise may be subject to certain restrictions, in accordance with States’ obligations under
applicable international human r ights instruments,
Recognizing also that any such restrictions must be based in law, and be necessary
and proportionate to further a legitimate aim, in accordance with the State’s obligations
under applicable international human rights instruments, and t hat, if imposed,
United Nations A /HRC/RES/38/11

General Assembly Distr.: General
16 July 2018

Original: English

A/HRC/RES/38/11
2
administrative or judicial review that is prompt, competent, independent and impartial
should be available,
Recalling that States have the primary responsibility for the promotion and
protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including in the context of
assemblies such as peaceful protests, and to ensure that national legislation, policies and
practices, as the national framework for the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful
assembly, of expression and of association, a re in compliance with international human
rights law,
Noting that the proper management of assemblies involves and can have an impact
on respect for human rights before, during and after an assembly, and aims to contribute to
its peaceful conduct and to prevent injuries to and loss of life of protesters, those
monitoring such protests, bystanders and officials exercising law enforcement duties,
Acknowledging that peaceful protests may occur in all societies, including protests
that are spontaneous, simul taneous, unauthorized or restricted,
Acknowledging also that participation in peaceful protests can be an important form
of exercising the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression, of association and
of participation in the conduct of public affairs,
Recognizing that peaceful protests can make a positive contribution to the
development, strengthening and effectiveness of democratic systems and to democratic
processes, including elections and referendums,
Recognizing also that peaceful prote sts have historically played a constructive social
and political role in the development of more just and accountable societies, and that such
protests can continue to make a positive contribution to human development,
Acknowledging that peaceful protest s can contribute to the full enjoyment of civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
Reaffirming that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person,
Reaffirming also that participation in public and peaceful protests should be entirely
voluntary and uncoerced,
Stressing therefore that everyone, including persons espousing minority or
dissenting views or beliefs, must be able to express their grievances or aspirations in a
peaceful manner, including through public protests, w ithout fear of reprisal or of being
intimidated, harassed, injured, sexually assaulted, beaten, arbitrarily arrested and detained,
tortured, killed or subjected to enforced disappearance,
Deeply concerned about extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executi ons, and torture
and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons exercising their
rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association in all regions of
the world,
Concerned about the emerging trend of disinformation and of undue restrictions
preventing Internet users from having access to or disseminating information at key
political moments, with an impact on the ability to organize and conduct assemblies,
Noting that the possibility of using communications technology securely and
privately, in accordance with international human rights law, is important for the
organization and conduct of assemblies,
Noting also that, although an assembly has generally been und erstood as a physical
gathering of people, human rights protections, including for the rights to freedom of
peaceful assembly, of expression and of association, may apply to analogous interactions
taking place online,
Recalling the rights to freedom of p eaceful assembly, of expression and of
association, which encompass organizing, participating, observing, monitoring and
recording assemblies,

A/HRC/RES/38/11
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Expressing its concern at the criminalization, in all parts of the world, of individuals
and groups solely for having organized, taken part in or observed, monitored or recorded
peaceful protests,
Stressing that peaceful protests should not be viewed as a threat, and therefore
encouraging all States to engage in an open, inclusive and meaningful dialogue when
dea ling with peaceful protests and their causes,
Recalling that isolated acts of violence committed by others in the course of a
protest do not deprive peaceful individuals of their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly,
of expression and of association,
Bearing in mind that assemblies can be facilitated on the basis of communication
and collaboration among organizers, protesters, local authorities and officials exercising
law enforcement duties,
Recognizing that national human rights institutions and r epresentatives of civil
society, including non -governmental organizations, can play a useful role in facilitating
continued dialogue between individuals taking part in peaceful protests and the relevant
authorities,
Stressing the need to ensure full acco untability for human rights violations or abuses
in the context of peaceful protests,
Recalling the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic
Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials,
Encouraging all Sta tes to make appropriate use of the Resource book on the use of
force and firearms in law enforcement published by the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and
the updated training package of the Office of the High Commissioner on human rights law
and law enforcement,
Recalling the importance of adequate training for officials exercising law
enforcement duties assigned to the management of assemblies, and of refraining, to the
exte nt feasible, from assigning military personnel to perform such duties,
1. Recalls that States have the responsibility, including in the context of
peaceful protests, to promote and protect human rights and to prevent human rights
violations and abuses, in cluding extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, arbitrary
arrest and detention, enforced disappearances and torture and other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment, and calls upon States to avoid the abuse of criminal and
civil procee dings, or threats of such acts at all times;
2. Calls upon States to promote a safe and enabling environment for individuals
and groups to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of
association, including by ensuring that domestic legislation and procedures relating to the
rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association are in conformity
with their international human rights obligations and commitments, to clearly and explicitly
establish a presump tion in favour of the exercise of these rights, and that they are
effectively implemented;
3. Encourages all States to give due consideration to the compilation of
practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies based on best
practices a nd lessons learned, 1 which provides a useful tool for States on how to fulfil their
obligations and commitments, including on how to operationalize them in their domestic
laws, procedures and practices, and to promote and protect human rights in the contex t of
assemblies, including peaceful protests;
4. Calls upon States to facilitate peaceful protests by providing protestors, to the
extent possible, with access to public space within sight and sound of their intended target

1 See A/HRC/31/66.

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audience, and by protecting th em, without discrimination, where necessary, against any
form of threat or harassment, and underlines the role of local authorities in this regard;
5. Underlines the important role that communication between organizers,
protestors, local authorities and officials exercising law enforcement duties can play in the
proper management of assemblies, such as peaceful protests, and calls upon States to
establish such appropriate channels;
6. Urges States to pay particular attention to the safety and protection of women
and women human rights defenders from acts of intimidation and harassment, as well as
gender -based violence, including sexual assault, in the context of peaceful protests;
7. Reaffirms that States must take all appropriate measures for the safet y and
protection of children, including while they exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful
assembly, of expression and of association, including in the context of peaceful protests;
8. Calls upon all States to pay particular attention to the safety o f journalists and
media workers observing, monitoring and recording peaceful protests, taking into account
their specific role, exposure and vulnerability;
9. Also calls upon all States to refrain from and cease measures, when in
violation of internation al human rights law, seeking to block Internet users from gaining
access to or disseminating information online;
10. Urges all States to avoid using force during peaceful protests, to ensure that,
where force is absolutely necessary, no one is subject to excessive or indiscriminate use of
force, and also to ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or
affected person at the earliest possible moment;
11. Calls upon States, as a matter of priority, to ensure that their domestic
legislation and procedures are consistent with their international obligations and
commitments in relation to the use of force in the context of law enforcement and are
effectively implemented by officials exercising law enforcement duties, in particular,
applicable principles of law enforcement, such as necessity and proportionality, bearing in
mind that lethal force may only be used as a last resort to protect against an imminent threat
to life and that it may not be used merely to disperse a gathering;
12. Affirms that nothing can ever justify the indiscriminate use of lethal force
against a crowd, which is unlawful under inter national human rights law;
13. Calls upon States to investigate any death or significant injury, including
those that lead to disability, incurred during protests, including those resulting from the
discharge of firearms or the use of less -lethal weapons by officials exercising law
enforcement duties or by private personnel acting on behalf of the State;
14. Also calls upon States to ensure adequate training of officials exercising law
enforcement duties and, where applicable, to promote adequate trainin g for private
personnel acting on behalf of the State, including in international human rights law and,
where appropriate, international humanitarian law, and in this regard urges States to include
in such training the application of de -escalation strategi es;
15. Encourages States to make appropriate protective equipment and less -lethal
weapons available to their officials exercising law enforcement duties in order to decrease
their need to use weapons of any kind, while pursuing efforts to regulate and e stablish
protocols for the training and use of less -lethal weapons, bearing in mind that even less –
lethal weapons can result in a risk to life;
16. Underlines the importance of thorough and independent testing of less -lethal
weapons prior to procurement a nd deployment to establish their lethality and the extent of
likely injury, and of monitoring appropriate training and use of such weapons;
17. Stresses the importance of international cooperation in support of national
efforts for the promotion and prot ection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the
context of assemblies, including peaceful protests, in order to raise the capacities of law
enforcement agencies to deal with such assemblies in a manner that conforms to
international human rights law and standards;

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18. Underlines the necessity to address the management of assemblies, including
peaceful protests, so as to contribute to their peaceful conduct, and to prevent injuries,
including those that lead to disability, and loss of life of protestors, those observing,
monitorin g and recording such assemblies, bystanders, and officials exercising law
enforcement duties, as well as any human rights violation or abuse, to ensure accountability
for such violations and abuses and to provide victims with access to a remedy and redress ;
19. Recognizes the importance of documenting human rights violations and
abuses committed in the context of peaceful protests, and the role that can be played by
national human rights institutions, civil society, including non -governmental organization s,
journalists and other media workers, Internet users and human rights defenders, in this
regard;
20. Urges States to ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses
through judicial or other national mechanisms, based on law and in conform ity with their
international human rights obligations and commitments, and to provide all victims with
access to a remedy and redress, including in the context of peaceful protests;
21. Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to
prepare a thematic report on new technologies, including information and communications
technology, and their impact on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context
of assemblies, including peaceful protests, and to submit it to the Human Righ ts Council
prior to its forty -fourth session;
22. Also requests the High Commissioner, in preparing the thematic report, to
draw from the experience of treaty bodies and to seek the views of States and relevant
partners, such as United Nations agencies, r egional organizations, national human rights
institutions, civil society organizations and relevant special procedure mandate holders;
23. Decides to continue its consideration of this topic and next steps at its forty –
fourth session under agenda item 3.
38th meeting
6 July 2018
[Adopted without a vote.]

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