Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 19, 2020
Thank you, Madam Chair.
2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association, the creation of which the United States championed. We continue to support this mandate and thank you, Mr. Voule for your efforts to renew the international community’s commitment to respect, protect, and enable these rights.
It is clear that the Special Rapporteur mandate and work remain more important than ever. Globally, we see the expanded use of internet shutdowns or slow downs, misuse of mass surveillance technologies, onerous restrictions on opposition party activities, and stifling of political and civic activists. The situation is worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which some governments have used to place undue limitations on the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
In Belarus, the government continues to detain and inflict severe abuses on members of civil society for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association. Authorities harass, expel, and detain members of the opposition. They arrest and strip accreditation of journalists; block independent media and opposition websites; and impose intermittent internet blackouts.
In Nicaragua, the Ortega regime continues to stifle dissent; harass and repress independent media; and arrest, abuse, and intimidate members of civil society and religious leaders for simply exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In Cambodia, the government jails peaceful protesters, human rights defenders and members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, whose leader, Kem Sokha, faces a meritless criminal prosecution for treason.
In the People’s Republic of China, the government denies the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association as a matter of state policy, most prominently in Xinjiang. The Chinese Communist Party has eradicated the enjoyment of these rights from the mainland and has shown its determination to destroy them in Hong Kong. The Chinese Communist Party wages a merciless campaign of repression against ethnic and religious minorities across the country.
The international community must join in calling on all governments to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of their people and honor their commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all other human rights commitments.
In light of the negative trends, what countries will be the focus of your fact-finding missions in the upcoming year and what challenges or issues will you highlight in your offices’ reports?