Freedom of assembly and association make it possible for people to express their political opinions, exercise their religion, form and join political parties and trade unions, and choose leaders to represent their interests. These freedoms are essential to strong and stable democracies and to the realisation of other human rights.
Norway strongly supports the right to freedom of assembly and association, and encourages all states to respect and promote these rights in legislation and in practice.
We would like to thank the Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai for yet another interesting report. We welcome his emphasis on fundamentalism as a broad and growing phenomenon. The Special Rapporteur has presented convincing arguments that various forms of fundamentalism, whether in the religious, cultural, political or economic sphere, may result in serious restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly and association.
Whether these restrictions are imposed by State- or Non-State actors, it is clear that the responsibility for protection lies with the State. Furthermore, as argued in the report, State protection of these rights should be given high priority, as they may play an important role in preventing violence and conflict. Denying people space for peaceful, legal and constructive engagement does not make their feelings of anger, despair and dissatisfaction go away, and may ultimately create an environment which is conducive to extremism.
Norway would like to thank the SR for making a number of relevant recommendations to member states. There are no specific recommendations to the UN-system. The UN has a wide presence and influence on member states. We would like to hear the SR’s thoughts on how the UN can contribute to uphold and strengthen assembly and association rights, in a global environment where fundamentalism in various forms is a growing threat.