On Thursday, the UN Human Rights Council recognized the critical importance of the freedom of peaceful assembly and association. This U.S. sponsored resolution reaffirms a basic truth: civil society plays a central role in promoting and protecting the enjoyment of human rights, but civil society can only serve the common good when the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association are protected.
Progress in the 21st century depends on the ability of individuals and organizations to come together around shared goals; harness the power of their convictions; and make societies more productive, transparent and accountable. Over the last 18 months, however, we have seen governments constrict civil society activism and increase their attacks against civic-minded organizations and individuals. These crackdowns mark a disturbing trend that requires global leadership.
The United States was proud to work with fellow Core Group members – the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Mexico, and Nigeria – to advance this important and timely resolution, and we thank them for their leadership and unflagging effort.
In New York last week, the United States was also proud to stand with 15 countries and two foundations that have joined us in supporting Lifeline, a rapid-response assistance mechanism for embattled NGOs that puts the principles endorsed by the resolution into action.
This resolution, and the Lifeline fund, shows that we have many partners around the world alarmed by these recent trends who are willing to support peaceful assembly and association. This is a critical moment to redouble our efforts to stand with civil society in the pursuit of democratic progress.