Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session

Australian Statement for the Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur

on the Rights to Freedom of Assembly and of Association 20 June 2012

Australia thanks the Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly and Association and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism.

Our comments in this Interactive Dialogue will focus specifically on the report of the Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly and Association.

Australia thanks the Special Rapporteur for this report and for his committed work to protect and promote these freedoms.

We agree that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association play a fundamental role in the effective functioning of democracy.

Although international recognition of these principles is long standing, they are rights that cannot be taken for granted.

Upholding these rights provides a channel for dialogue, pluralism and tolerance, where minority or dissenting views or beliefs are respected.

We welcome this resource on best practice as it relates to the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

These freedoms serve as a vehicle for the exercise of many other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

Australia is committed to upholding the rights guaranteed in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We agree that these rights should be considered the rule, and their restriction the exception.

Australia would be interested in the Special Rapporteur providing further guidance on the situations where limits to these rights are permissible, for example, clarifying what is meant by public safety and recognising serious and organised crime, and terrorism, as threats to national security.

We also note with interest the Special Rapporteur’s discussion of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the context of elections.

Once again we thank the Special Rapporteur for this timely and considered contribution on the question of the rights to freedom of assembly and association.