The United States is pleased to introduce a resolution on “The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association” for consideration and approval by this Council. We want to thank our fellow Core Group members — the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Mexico, and Nigeria — for their leadership and unflagging effort to advance this important and timely resolution. We present this text today on behalf of 62 cosponsors. We have made oral revisions to the tabled version – copies of these changes have been distributed in the room.
Two years ago we joined Council colleagues in supporting the landmark decision to appoint the first-ever Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to highlight the growing threats to peaceful assembly and association , while developing best practices for the protections of those rights. This important mandate makes the Council more effective in defending human rights on the ground throughout the world.
The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are essential components of democracy and pillars of a thriving society. While there is no single recipe for improving the human rights situation worldwide, a common ingredient in bringing about positive change in every region of the world is the strong role of civil society. Around the world, civil society – either as individuals or in groups - supports the work of our governments by filling gaps in education, health, and provision of many public services. They provide for interreligious dialogue, academic and cultural exchanges; they promote economic development and strengthen access for the most vulnerable and least empowered people; and they work to keep our governments on track by pushing us to remain transparent and accountable. Civil society has been at the forefront of promoting and protecting civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. But in order to fully enable civil society to serve the common good, governments must respect and uphold the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association. Regrettably, since the 2010 resolution was passed, the threats to civil society have increased, and thus it remains even more critical for the Council to address the issue today
It is in this context, that we bring this resolution before the Council: to reaffirm the importance of the protection of these important rights and to encourage other countries around the world to engage with the rapporteur in his important work in this area. This resolution also encourages the rapporteur in his next report to examine more deeply the role of civil society in relation to these rights and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.
We look forward to working with other Council members in the upcoming year on the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association and thank the plenary for considering this important resolution.
Thank you, Madame Chair.