Remarks at a Meeting of the Third Committee on a Briefing with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
United States
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 16, 2018


We thank Special Rapporteur Voule for his report.

As you know, in countries across the globe, we are witnessing increasing attacks on individuals’ rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

In Syria, the Assad regime has reportedly tortured and killed thousands of Syrians since 2011 for participating in peaceful protests or civic activism with complete immunity.

In Iran, the regime forcefully cracked down on nationwide protests beginning in late 2017. The regime does not allow independent civil society, and detains hundreds of individuals for exercising their fundamental freedoms, including environmental scientists, scholars and students.

The Russian government has continued using its law on so-called “foreign agents” to justify a constant stream of raids, fines, harassment, and legal proceedings that heavily obstruct the work of NGOs. Russia also has expanded the law’s reach to include media outlets.

In Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba, autocratic authorities silence independent voices and democratic actors maintaining a repressive monopoly on power, and denying their people a meaningful choice through free and fair elections. In Nicaragua, at least 350 peaceful protestors were killed since April. Venezuela holds over 230 political prisoners; Cuba, approximately 130.

In Xinjiang, Chinese authorities have detained hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million, people, and are deploying pervasive surveillance technology and equipment, making it impossible for people to assemble. China continues its nationwide campaign to shutter churches, preventing people from assembling in prayer. In Tibet, they target monasteries, environmental NGOs and cultural groups that seek to preserve Tibetan identity.

In light of these and other incidents of closing civil space around the world, the United States is putting forward a draft resolution in third committee on the promotion and protection of fundamental freedoms, particularly the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

The draft resolution expresses concern regarding the growing threats, risks, and dangers faced by individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including human rights defenders, journalists, media workers, youth, and civil society.

We hope that you will support this draft text and address the issues many are facing around the world.

Special Rapporteur Voule, we look forward to your forthcoming report. What is your recommendation on how the international community can confront this growing threat to fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of assembly, while balancing legitimate security concerns?