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Freedom of Assembly

Peaceful assembly is essential to healthy and effective democratic institutions. OGP members are sharing best practices and experiences to protect this fundamental human right.

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Overview

Peaceful assembly is the right to express, promote, pursue, and defend common interests collectively without fear of retribution – in public or private, both online and off. Forming a committed bloc of voices and acting as a group endows citizens with recognizable power. 

Around a third to a half of OGP countries perform consistently well on freedom of assembly according to independent indicators. At the same time, a third to a half of all OGP governments have challenges to freedom, including restrictions affecting demonstrations and protests and the excessive use of force. Those who face challenges are the least likely to have reforms in place. In fact, this area has the fewest commitments in OGP. 

OGP is working to learn from the experiences of countries performing well on freedom of assembly so that best practices can be shared, innovation increased, and leadership showcased.  

OGP’s ability to bring together government leaders and civil society advocates offers a pathway forward to address this critical issue.


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Faces of Open Government: Fatou Jagne Senghore

Fatou Jagne Senghore is the Director for Article 19, West Africa. As the open government community observed Open Gov Week and World Press Freedom Day this month, Fatou reflects on...

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Defending Civic Space: How OGP Can Step Up

There is a major opportunity in 2021 to advance civic space reforms in OGP that go to the heart of some of the democratic backsliding the world has seen in recent years, and to showcase them at the 10th anniversary Global Summit in December of 2021.

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Respond. Recover. Renew.

OGP turns ten in 2021. With more than 4,500 commitments made to date, we have much to celebrate. We are launching Open Renewal in our anniversary year in order to look forward and build on the lessons and accomplishments of the past.


Recommendations

  • Expand who protects and promotes the right to freedom of assembly beyond state actors, including the police. Northern Ireland has a civilian panel evaluate and make binding decisions on route changes for controversial parades.
  • Provide for adequate security and safety for assemblies, including clear guidance on the use of force. In the United States, the District of Columbia’s First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act states that police lines cannot be used at assemblies in an attempt to corral individuals expressing their right to peaceful assembly. 
  • Decriminalize assembly activities and focus on proportionate application and use of civil and administrative fines and penalties for violations. The South African Constitutional Court struck down a restrictive protest law that was being used by the government to criminalize public assembly through fines and jail time. 
  • Ensure proper and transparent use of digital technologies, including cybersecurity, online surveillance, and facial recognition software. Italy approved the Charter of Internet Rights, which recognizes the links between on- and offline rights, including basic civil liberties such as assembly.

OGP Global Report Data

The data below is drawn from the 2019 OGP Global Report. You can view and learn more about the report here.

These are members making OGP commitments to improve their performance in the respective policy area. As members that have demonstrated political commitment through OGP, the next step is ensuring that implemented commitments have maximal impact.

Key
Indicates that member has a starred commitment in this policy area.


Resources

  1. Actions to Protect and Enhance Civic Space

    Enhancing and protecting civic space is vital to achieving OGP’s bold goals of accelerating economic recovery, tackling systemic inequalities, and…

    2021, , Web Page

  2. Global Report - Freedom of Assembly

    Peaceful assembly is a bedrock of democratic institutions. It allows people to bring attention to issues, demand change, and get…

    2019, Document, PDF

  3. Working Together to Protect Civic Space

    There can be no doubt that we are witnessing a global trend that devalues and restricts the role civil society…

    2015, , Web Page

  4. Protecting Civic Space: A Private Sector Priority

    Space, both physical and intellectual, for people to think, speak, and act freely is shrinking around the world. Today, only…

    2018, Perspective, Web Page

  5. Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

    2010, Outbound Link, Web Page

  6. CIVICUS State of Civil Society Reports

    In CIVICUS' flagship annual publication find hundreds of pages of insight into the key trends affecting civil society organisations (CSOs)…

    2019, Outbound Link, Web Page

  7. Transparency and Accountability Initiative's Civic Space Compendium

    Find examples of approaches, tools, and strategies from existing cross-disciplinary literature on the transparency, accountability, and civic participation space.

    2019, Outbound Link, Web Page

  8. People Power Under Attack 2020: A Report Based on Data from the CIVICUS Monitor

    CIVICUS shares the status of civic freedoms in 196 countries, highlights regional trends and gives recommendations for enhancing civic space.

    2020, Outbound Link, Web Page


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There is a major opportunity in 2021 to advance civic space reforms in OGP that go to the heart of some of the democratic backsliding the world has seen in recent years, and to showcase them at the 10th anniversary Global Summit in December of 2021.

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