Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association


The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The mandate holder promotes the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association by studying national practices and experiences related to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, identifying trends and challenges, and making recommendations on methods for ensuring the protection of these rights.

The Special Rapporteur receives information from governments, nongovernmental organizations, individuals, and others regarding the rights to freedom of assembly and of association. Where violations of these rights are serious and where immediate attention might prevent further deterioration, the Special Rapporteur will bring the situation to the Human Rights Council or UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ attention.

The Special Rapporteur must apply a gender perspective throughout the work of his or her mandate.


The mandate of the Special Rapporteur lasts for a period of three years. The mandate is filled by one highly qualified individual.

The Human Rights Council established the Special Rapporteurship in 2010 with Resolution 15/21 and extended the mandate in 2013 with Resolution 24/5.

In fulfilling the mandate, the Special Rapporteur undertakes country visits, communicates with governments concerning information and complaints received regarding alleged rights violations, and submits activity reports to the Human Rights Council.

Country Visits

One important function of the Special Rapporteur is to conduct country visits, which it does on the basis of an invitation from the country concerned. Country visits provide the Special Rapporteur an opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge about the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of assembly and of association and to identify both challenges and best practices for their protection.

The Special Rapporteur undertakes an average of two visits per year, to States that have extended an invitation. View the list of previous country visits and the Special Rapporteur’s subsequent reports here.

More than 100 countries have extended standing invitations to country visits by all thematic special procedures. View the list of countries that have extended standing invitations here.

Receiving Information & Complaints

The Special Rapporteur receives complaints about alleged violations of the rights to freedom of assembly and of association. Importantly, the Special Rapporteur does not issue decisions concerning individual complaints and cannot require the State to remedy any alleged violation; rather, the Special Rapporteur raises the issue of concern with the relevant State. The Special Rapporteur may contact the government concerned to invite comment on the allegation, seek clarification, remind the government of its international obligations, or request information on steps being taken by the government to redress the situation. Generally called “communications,” these exchanges with the government can take a variety of forms of varying degrees of significance. Specifically, the Special Rapporteur contacts a government through either an allegation letter or an urgent appeal.

The Special Rapporteur keeps confidential all communications to and from the government until it includes them in periodic reports submitted to the UN Human Rights Council at each of its regular sessions.

In all communications, the Special Rapporteur is careful not to draw any conclusions about the facts of the case. Instead, the Special Rapporteur simply presses for the government to ensure that the rights to freedom of assembly and of association are not violated and to provide the Special Rapporteur with comments and observations.

Allegation Letters

Generally, the Special Rapporteur sends an allegation letter in circumstances where the alleged violation has already occurred, relates to a general pattern of violations, or is not so pressing as to warrant sending an urgent appeal. An allegation letter generally contains a request for the government to clarify the substance of the allegation and to forward any information related to the allegation to the Special Rapporteur.

Urgent Appeals

The urgent appeals procedure is reserved for cases in which there are sufficiently reliable allegations that the rights to freedom of assembly and of association may be infringed upon.

Reports to the Human Rights Council

The Special Rapporteur reports annually to the Human Rights Council on all of its activities relating to its mandate. These reports are available on the Special Rapporteur’s Annual Reports webpage.


Complaints and information submitted to the Special Rapporteur should comply with the guidance provided, and supply the following minimum details:

  • identity of the alleged victim(s);
  • status of the victim(s), i.e., in what type(s) of activity is the victim engaged;
  • nature of the alleged violation(s) or abuse(s) committed against the victim in the exercise of his or her rights to freedom of assembly and/or association;
  • identity of the alleged perpetrator(s) of the violation;
  • any action taken by the authorities to redress the situation; and,
  • the identity of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the communication, which will be kept confidential.

Complaints may be submitted by:

  • Mail:

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
c/o Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10

  • Fax: +41 22 917 9006

To contact the Special Rapporteur with regard to another matter (not a complaint), use the email address: [email protected].