Focus on Freedom of Assembly and Association
On November 8-9 in Vienna, the OSCE held a Supplementary OSCE Human Dimension Meeting (HDM) on Freedom of Assembly and Association. The meeting was organized by the Irish Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Kazakhstan was represented at the meeting by a delegation led by Ambassador-at-large Usen Suleyman. The HDM provided a forum for the exchange of views on how the full implementation of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association can be advanced and protected, in order to encourage inclusive and diverse democratic societies.
The challenges faced by OSCE participating States were identified, and delegates discussed how these can be effectively overcome, so that the freedom of peaceful assembly and association can be fully implemented in line with OSCE commitments. The meeting also discussed the very rare circumstances in which these rights may be restricted, in accordance with the relevant international standards and commitments.
Discussions also addressed how the OSCE, its institutions and field operations can better help OSCE participating States to meet their obligations in this area. The influence of new technologies on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association was a subject of particular consideration.
The OSCE’s comprehensive view of security encompasses three “dimensions”: the politico-military; the economic and environmental; and the human. OSCE activities cover all three of these areas, from "hard" security issues such as conflict prevention to fostering economic development, ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources, and promoting the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Helsinki Final Act of 1975 sets out as one of the guiding principles of the OSCE the “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief”. For the first time, human-rights principles were included as an explicit and integral element of a regional security framework.
Since the Helsinki Act, the participating states of the OSCE – now 56 in number – have adopted a series of politically binding commitments on what has become known as the “human dimension” of the OSCE’s comprehensive security concept, covering activities related to human rights and democracy.
Annual HDM meetings and Supplementary HDM meetings on specific topics monitor progress on human dimension issues and challenges in these areas across the OSCE membership.