The report tells the story of 2016 from the perspective of assembly and association rights and recaps the Special Rapporteur mandate’s work during the year. The report also features Kiai’s farewell letter, in which he reflects on his nearly six years in the mandate.
When the Human Rights Council created his mandate in 2010, Kiai writes, “the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association were somewhat neglected in the pantheon of our most cherished rights – known, but rarely in the headlines. In the years since, they have underpinned some of the most cataclysmic political events of the 21st century.”
“And remarkably, all of this happened while governments everywhere were embarking upon the most comprehensive rollback of civic freedoms since the end of the Cold War,” he adds.
The Special Rapporteur also writes about his concern over the phenomenon of “closing civic space,” but emphasizes that it’s time for civil society look at the issue more broadly.
“We are in the midst of an epic global struggle, and it is not just over assembly and association rights, or any other human right in isolation,” he writes. “It is about our freedom writ large – a global clash between tyranny and self-determination that could shape the course of our world for generations to come. It pits people eager for democratic participation versus leaders – fearful after seeing the just how powerful an engaged populace can be – who are just as eager to stop them.
“It is no longer good enough to describe this conflict with euphemisms such as ‘closing space.’ It is more than that. It is a struggle for the future of democracy and democratic values.”
The report is available at the following link: http://freeassembly.net/