United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights CCPR/C/GC/37 Distr.: General 17 September 2020 Original: English Human Rights Committee General comment No. 37 (2020) on the right of peaceful assembly (article 21)* I. Introduction 1. The fundamental human right of peaceful assembly enables individuals to express themselves collectively and to participate in shaping their societies. The right of peaceful assembly is important in its own right, as it protects the ability of people to exercise individual autonomy in solidarity with others. Together with other related rights, it also constitutes the very foundation of a system of participatory governance based on democracy, human rights, the rule of law and pluralism. Peaceful assemblies can play a critical role in allowing participants to advance ideas and aspirational goals in the public domain and to establish the extent of support for or opposition to those ideas and goals. Where they are used to air grievances, peaceful assemblies may create opportunities for the inclusive, participatory and peaceful resolution of differences. 2. The right of peaceful assembly is, moreover, a valuable tool that can and has been used to recognize and realize a wide range of other rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. It is of particular importance to marginalized individuals and groups. Failure to respect and ensure the right of peaceful assembly is typically a marker of repression. 3. The first sentence of article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that: “The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized.” The right is articulated in similar terms in other international and regional instruments,1 and its content has been elaborated upon by monitoring bodies, for example in their views, concluding observations, resolutions, interpretive guidelines and judicial decisions.2 In addition to being * Adopted by the Committee at its 129th session (29 June–24 July 2020). 1 For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 20 (1)); the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights) (art. 11); the American Convention on Human Rights (art. 15); and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (art. 11). The Arab Charter on Human Rights protects the right for citizens (art. 24). Specific obligations relating to participation in peaceful assemblies can also be found in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 15); the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (art. 5 (d) (ix)); and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (art. 8). 2 For examples from the regional mechanisms, see Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, 3rd ed. (Warsaw/Strasbourg, 2019); African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa (Banjul, 2017) and Guidelines for the Policing of Assemblies by Law Enforcement Officials in Africa (Banjul, 2017); and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Protest and Human Rights: Standards on the rights involved in social protest and the obligations to guide the response of the State (2019). GE.20-12048(E) 

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