UN: Special Rapporteur on freedom of association: "states which claim to be fighting terrorism yet restrict civil society are playing with fire"


A new report from a UN Special Rapporteur examines the effect of fundamentalism - in the form of market, political, religious, cultural and national fundamentalisms - on the rights to freedom of peaceful association and assemly.

The report also examines the role of those rights in "the context of rising extremism and radicalisation," arguing that "a major contributing factor" to the growth of extremism worldwide is "the on-going global crackdown on democratic freedoms."

The Special Rapporteur, Maina Kiai, argues that:

"States which claim to be fighting terrorism yet at the same time restrict civil society are playing with fire. The existence of a robust civil society and respect for human rights in general is critical in combatting extremism, and in channelling dissent and frustrations in a legitimate way through the system."

Fundamentally different

The report examines the effects of different forms of fundamentalism:

"This report is not concerned with fundamentalist viewpoints per se, but rather with fundamentalism in action: concrete, specific violations of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association that are motivated by these viewpoints. The mere voluntary adherence to a fundamentalist belief system is not a human rights violation in and of itself. The right to hold opinions and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion are protected by Articles 18 and 19 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)."

Kiai argues that:

"The danger arises when holders of these beliefs seek to impose them in a way that controls, restricts or deters the exercise of the rights of others who may have different views or backgrounds, thereby threatening the values of pluralism and broadmindedness, which are central to democracy. The tipping point, for purposes of this report, is when fundamentalist views form the basis for violations of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association."

The report is due to be adopted at the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, to be held between 13 June and 1 July 2016.

The report: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (pdf)

Factsheet: Fundamentalism's impact on FoAA rights (pdf)

And an online summary: Fundamentalism’s impact on peaceful assembly and association rights (link)

 

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