United States Statement in an Interactive Dialogue with Mr. Clemont Voule, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

Jason Mack
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Thank you, Special Rapporteur Voule, for your tireless efforts to advance freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. The United States remains dismayed by the unlawful denial of this fundamental freedom in many member states around the globe—despite their obligations under international law.

The denial of this right is often arbitrarily justified under the guise of “counter terrorism” or “national security” legislation and affects both individuals who exercise this right for political reasons and those who have other objectives.

Given these troubling trends, we call attention to:

China, where authorities continue to deny people the right to peaceful assembly and association throughout the country, including in Xinjiang where a campaign of repression includes the detention of over one million members of Muslim minority groups in internment camps since 2017 and pervasive, high-technology surveillance and control measures. China also continues its nationwide campaign to shutter churches, and to target Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan cultural groups – all efforts to prevent assembly.

The approximately 700 Iranian prisoners of conscience, charged with “national security crimes,” for merely seeking to organize community groups or peacefully protest.

The empty streets in Nicaragua, where protests have been drastically reduced out of a deep fear of renewed government repression. Even displaying balloons in the colors of the opposition makes one a target.

Uzbekistan’s draft Law on Rallies, Assemblies and Demonstrations, which, if enacted, would establish excessive requirements for assembly permits.

Togo’s revised law that establishes onerous new restrictions on public demonstrations, undermining their democratic trajectory in advance of 2020 Presidential elections.

Kazakhstan’s reported detention of 4000 individuals who took part in peaceful presidential election protests.

The United States reminds member states that affording the right of peaceful assembly and association does not weaken countries, but actually strengthens governance and respects the fundamental freedoms we have all recognized enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Special Rapporteur Voule, during your tenure you have conducted a number of in-country consultations and have also issued statements on concerning developments in several countries. Could you please comment on some of the trends you have noted over the past year, recommendations you may have to address areas of concern, and some of the good practices you have encountered?