UN expert says elections cannot be legitimate if freedoms of peaceful assembly and association are curtailed

A Global Update by the Civic Space Initiative

The Civic Space Initiative (CSI) welcomes the recent report on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the context of elections by Mr. Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association (UNSR).  The report was presented to the United National General Assembly (UNGA) on October 29. 

In his presentation of the report, Mr. Kiai stated that he had received “numerous complaints from individuals and groups concerning the excessive force used by law enforcement officials in dispersing protests that advocate for electoral reform or challenge election results.”  He argued that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are often violated before, during, or after elections particularly in a highly tense political environment.  As “the electoral process is a major avenue” for citizens to participate in democratic governance and “elections confer legitimacy on governments,” he urges UN Member States to ensure the conduct of legitimate elections by protecting those rights.

FreeAssembly dot netCoinciding with the presentation of the report, Mr. Kiai launched FreeAssembly.net, which will serve as a portal for information related to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.  The October 29 report to the UNGA, along with his previous reports to the UN Human Rights Council, is available on this website. It also includes press releases and public statements by Mr. Kiai as well as information related to countries that he has visited or seeks to visit.  Through the website, various stakeholders, especially civil society groups and national human rights institutions, can communicate and share their information directly with UNSR.

The CSI assisted a number of civil society groups worldwide to participate in the consultation process for drafting the UNGA report.  The CSI also supported the development of FreeAssembly.net. 

Members of the CSI are the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, ARTICLE19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the World Movement for Democracy.



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